Letter: Artless review

August 17, 2001

Your grudging and belated review of Stephen Farthing's Intelligent Person's Guide to Modern Art (Books, THES, August 10) exemplifies almost everything that is wrong with contemporary art criticism in this country. It has a facile headline ("Swot up on the big issue at dinner parties") that suggests art is a matter of cocktail chat. It has an illustration featuring a portrait of Myra Hindley that is nowhere referred to in the review. All the major issues Farthing's book raises are ignored. It further complains that Farthing has now emigrated to New York. Can anyone wonder? Why does The THES not treat the subject more seriously?

Roy Harris
Oxford

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