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The Hillary syndrome: Everyone thought Roberta Smith should have won the Pulitzer
The Pulitzer Prize for criticism went to New York magazine art critic, Jerry Saltz...
News 30 Apr 2018
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Last week, the Pulitzer Prize for criticism went to New York magazine art critic, Jerry Saltz, who is 67-years-old. While the art world was cheering – as Saltz was nominated numerous times before winning this year – some pointed out the Hillary syndrome to this situation: Saltz’s wife is Roberta Smith, The New York Times art critic. Roberta is less candid than Jerry but her reporting skills and criticism is a sharp-edged sword.
The Observer’s Margaret Carrigan first pointed out that the win raises questions, when she wrote “His brilliant wife has been tirelessly, smartly and humbly interrogating the work of some of the most profound artists working today for longer than I can remember.” She proceeds to explain that she doesn’t believe Smith is more deserving of the prize just because she is a woman but claims Roberta’s talents are “overlooked.” Especially to Jerry, who was written about This viewpoint is not new. In 2010, The New Criterion wrote about Saltz’s criticism as being “filled with internet messianism, unctuous flattery of his followers, treacly self-doubt and gaseous emissions of political cant. The ultimate topic of discussion is not art or even his devoted followers but Jerry Saltz himself.”
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In The Guardian, the headline was “Congrats, Jerry Saltz – but when will a female art critic win a Pulitzer?” where the writer goes on to explain that “the lead art critics for the Sunday Times, the Washington Post, the Independent, the Telegraph and the Guardian are all male.
Laura Cumming at the Observer, Rachel Campbell-Johnston in the Times and Roberta Smith, co-chief art critic at The New York Times, are rare examples of female critics given a broadsheet platform. It’s not as though the visual arts industry is devoid of women – in fact statistics point towards a gender disparity in the opposite direction: arts, design and history graduates are overwhelmingly female. Yet the art press is still a boys’ club.”
Truth be told, times will tell if it will change.

Text by Nadja Sayej
photos via pinterest, interviewmagazine

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