In the pages of this continuing series Artforum invites a range of critics or theorists to articulate what they see as the role and responsibilities of art criticism today.

IN THE YEARS SINCE 1970 or so, a deep divide has occurred in art criticism: its vocabularies and modes of address no longer even begin to cohere into one dialogue. By contrast, even the most demanding criticism of the Modernist generation took for granted a common space of viewing and, by extension, of discussion of art. Art was made in the studio, then brought complete and intact to the gallery. The critic’s task was to give a response to what was immediately present to vision, that is, to offer an account of an experience available in principle to every visitor to that space. And any member of the lay audience was in principle able to judge the adequacy of the critic’s assessment. The arena of exhibition remained the

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