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Thursday, November 29, 2012 - Professor offers passionate, partisan critique in Detroit art blog
By Katie Land, news editor

As a new and growing Metropolitan Detroit art scene begins to unfold, it has brought with it a resurgence of art criticism that is partisan, passionate, and political.

Among this burgeoning group is intrepid blogger, art critic and assistant professor John Corso. Since 2008, Dr. Corso has brought his expertise in critical theory and contemporary art to Oakland University students. Now he speaks to a wider audience through his Huffington Post Detroit art blog.

Utilizing a style of "partisan, passionate, political" discourse from famed art critic Charles Baudelaire, Dr. Corso hopes to generate enthusiastic discussion among art lovers of all kinds.

“Some important critics today have observed that the majority of art critics either pander to the market or else write without any sense of judgment,” Dr. Corso said. “Too often art criticism looks just like objective journalism. This is a problem because the word “critic” requires a judgment. Though we may disagree with the judgment a critic makes, at least they're trying to understand how contemporary art impacts real people.”

Through his monthly blog that launched this June, Dr. Corso writes to bring attention to art that may be overlooked.

Thus far, he has written about a variety of exhibits ranging from Patti Smith photographs at the Detroit Institute of Arts to a performance art workshop at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, to his most recent entry about a “painting” created from animal blood, copper and resin now on display at The Butcher’s Daughter Gallery in Ferndale.

With an increasing frequency, the City of Detroit has begun to offer diversity and innovation in art. Dr. Corso hopes to see the trend continue, with a movement that includes electric and digital art, perhaps something drawn from the electronic music scene that is distinctively Detroit.

He points to the recent DLECTRICITY light festival as an important first step in the process, one that could help spur on more cutting edge artistic endeavors.

“I'm really hoping to be a part of an exciting, growing critical community,” Dr. Corso said. “Critics oftentimes can be intermediaries between artists and institutions, and between exhibits and the public. I hope in my role as critic to facilitate discussions between diverse communities of art lovers.”

In his blog, Dr. Corso seeks to be accessible while offering expertise and critique. “I try to use very plain words to describe complex ideas, so that anyone can gain a more sophisticated approach to contemporary art,” he continued.

This approach extends to the classroom as well, where Dr. Corso teaches by “doing as well as saying.” He discusses the exact processes used in his own writing and works to explore the variances between critique from practicing artists and those from art critics.

Dr. Corso holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University, as well as a Master’s of Fine Arts degree from Cornell University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. At Oakland, he teaches courses in critical theory and contemporary art.

Dr. Corso’s art blog can be viewed at the HuffPost Detroit website at For more information about programs, events or courses in OU’s Department of Art and Art History, view the website.