On April 21st, Art in America online published an interview with Douglas Eklund, curator of then just-opened “The Pictures Generation” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In early June, we received a letter from the artist Philip Smith in response to Eklund’s commentary on his decision to exclude Smith’s work from the “Pictures” show. Smith cited New York Magazine critic Jerry Saltz’s review of the exhibition, wherein he questioned Eklund’s curatorial judgment. Here, Saltz comments on Smith’s statement:
“As I wrote in my New York Magazine review, Doug Eklund’s “The Pictures Generation” was such a muddled, misrepresentative, hodge-podge, such an unscholarly dissonant-looking mish-mash of hundreds of objects, books, posters, photos, films, and videos, that had a museum outside New York curated a show this slipshod and uncritical, it is doubtful that any museum in New York, let alone the Met, would have had anything to do with it.
As curated by Mr. Eklund, “Pictures” was less a show than a feel-good class-reunion. Except Mr. Eklund expanded and contracted the class in dubious ways. Firstly, “Pictures Art” is the only movement of the 20th century that is made up primarily of women. Creepy and depressing, then, that of the 30 artists in “The Pictures Generation,” only 11 are women. That’s 36 percent. Secondly, for an exhibition based on a 1977 show called “Pictures” to have excluded only one artist from that show, Philip Smith, seems as misinformed and misguided as most of the other decisions in his unfortunately flawed show.”