Robert Hughes, Art Critic, Dies at 74

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Robert Hughes, controversial art critic and historian, died Monday, August 6, 2012.

His wife, according to the New York Times, claims the cause of death was an illness that was battled for a long time. According to Wikipedia, the cause of death was Alzheimer’s disease.

Hughes was the art critic for Time magazine for over three decades.

  • The Shock of The New

I had to read his book The Shock of the New for a class. I also watched the eight part documentary on Youtube. The Shock of the New was an exploration of the experience we call modern art. Hughes explores its origins and its contained intentions and meanings. His writing in the book and his use of rhetoric in the documentary (which is very much closely related to the book) is a most beautiful prose. He has a way with words that arguably makes the listener want to continue listening if only for the appreciation of the arrangement of those words.

  • The Mona Lisa Curse

But what I loved Robert Hughes the most for was his critical nature of the art market and the artists whom create art for the sole purpose of acquiring a fortune. Though sometimes harsh, he was one of the few critics who provided an alternative argument to fast art in the big market. His short(er) documentary Mona Lisa Curse gives an inside look at the art market in a very opinionated way.

  • American Visions

Another documentary by Hughes is American Visions. Here he informs the viewer about the progression of American art from the earliest settlers to the late 1900’s.

  • Conclusion

Robert Hughes is an art historian and critic who will always be appreciated for his opinionated, yet very educated, view of art and art history. The person interested in art and art history would do themselves well to familiarize themselves with this man and his work.

Thank you for reading,


2 thoughts on “Robert Hughes, Art Critic, Dies at 74

  1. I loved “The Mona Lisa Curse”. I wonder why it hasn’t been shown yet on American TV. Probably because of its awful truth, like holding up a mirror to the NY art scene! I was Bob Hughes’ neighbor for five years in that building in which he was filmed in SoHo and he was a great friend. As a painter I was privileged to have his counsel and advise. He always told the truth!

    • I was only able to see his videos online. I’ve seen almost all of them. Mona Lisa Curse is such a good one. I would have loved to have a conversation with him. Thank you for sharing!

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