Artists have plenty of ways of dealing with criticism: They put dead critics in their paintings (à la Llyn Foulkes), they make their critics obnoxious fops (like John Ruskin in "Mr. Turner") or martini swilling harpies ("Birdman"). But in this day and age, they also take to Facebook — as in the case of French artist Loris Gréaud in Dallas.
For his installation "The Unplayed Notes Museum" at Dallas Contemporary, the artist built a fictional museum, which he then had a crew of rioters, played by actors, destroy during a patron party on Jan. 17.
Critic Lauren Smart, of the Dallas Observer, was not impressed. As she noted in her review of the show a week later:
"It became representative to me of how I see a lot of contemporary conceptual art. The presence, the absence, the convolution, an attempt to say something so desperate that nothing gets said. An audience just as interested in artistic consumption — or the appearance of it — that we engage with the emptiness, we believe the narratives, we assign value."
Gréaud responded by sending the critic a series of emotional messages on Facebook (which she screengrabbed and then posted online) calling her review "ignorant, frustrated, uncultured" and then recommending she do some studying and get "a boyfriend with at least 400mg Anadrol a day. and i swear you'll make it ..."
Anadrol, for the record, is a type of steroid.
Smart tells me that she hasn't heard "a peep" from the museum, though the institution did issue the following statement to The Times:
"Dallas Contemporary greatly appreciates the efforts of arts writers and community members who choose to participate in the critical dialogue around our exhibition program. The views of exhibiting artists shared through private exchanges are not representative of those of our institution, nor are they condoned."
Perhaps the most interesting story on the matter is by Peter Simek in D Magazine, who discusses the controversy as part of an institutional culture that has historically been a bit of a "boy's club." Gréaud's comments, he writes, "threaten to take that reputation to the next level."
Interestingly, the controversy has resulted in plenty of national attention for Gréaud's installation. He hasn't apologized for his rants, but he did send Smart another Facebook message, which she described to me via email as, "A big thank you smiley face in all capitals."
It must be true that there's no such thing as bad publicity.