David Levi Strauss and the Future of Art Criticism

It's equally exciting to have the head of SVA's Art Criticism and Writing program come from a photography background. Because it's great the people but it's more important that the public at large learn to think critically about images. That's one of the reasons Strauss has worked to make his writing approachable. And I'm glad that is the precedent he's setting for the students coming out of SVA's new program.

If you haven't see it already, there is a new profile on_ popphoto.com_ about photography writer David Levi Strauss, who just accepted the position of chair of SVA's new Art Criticism and Writing program. I'm only a little embarrassed to admit that the interview I did with Strauss had me pretty nervous -- he is, after all, one of the foremost thinkers on the art of photography. So I did my research, scoured the internet for interviews (a good one here), and read his seminal essay collection, Between The Eyes.

It turns out my anxiety was misplaced; Strauss is a really nice guy, though just as eloquent and thoughtful as I expected. As a bonus, he's also dedicated to teaching people to really looking at the images all around us -- especially the photographs. I love how simple and obvious huge ideas seem in his words, such as the misconception that just because photographs are instantaneously created, they can also be instantaneously understood. And I'm excited to be part of the generation that is realizing how false that assumption is.

It's equally exciting to have the head of SVA's Art Criticism and Writing program come from a photography background. Because it's great the people "in the industry" know about Strauss and his careful approach to "technology-based images," but it's more important that the public at large learn to think critically about images. That's one of the reasons Strauss has worked to make his writing approachable. And I'm glad that is the precedent he's setting for the students coming out of SVA's new program.

~Miki Johnson

(Photograph by Sterrett Smith)