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Spring 1998, Volume 1, Number 1, page 4

In an effort to set standards of professionalism for our profession, we propose the following oath:

The Oath of the Art Critic

I swear to uphold the following principles so that I may serve the art community and each of its members with integrity and honor, that I may be worthy of every plastic cup of opening-reception wine, every show announcement mailed to me, every press pass issued in my name, every ad and subscription dollar earned by my publishers, and that I may gain the respect and admiration of my editors, peers and readers; dealers, collectors, patrons, and scholars; and all artists sacrificing their youth and intellect for the love of art.

I swear to attend every exhibition, every month, rain or shine, in every gallery, loft, apartment, food-and-spirits establishment, school, and multi-million-dollar building in the metropolitan area; to give each piece as much time as it takes for me to understand its genius, and to watch every art video, no matter how aimless, through to the end at least once.

I swear to go to New York and Los Angeles, and international art events including the Venice Bienale, Documenta, Cologne, Madrid, Istanbul, Sao Paulo, every year, and at every opportunity to speak of Chicago artists, galleries, and museums with the utmost admiration.

I swear to read every art magazine, newspaper, volume of art-theory, and every text-encrusted artwork; to attend every public lecture and panel discussion, and to visit every artist's web site.

I swear to keep my word count at 350 words and to spell every artist's name correctly.

I swear to meet every deadline with alacrity.

I swear to be fair, and to know the difference between right and wrong; never to allow my biases, life experience, education, or research to interfere with my articulation of an artist's vision.

I swear to believe every word in an Artist's Statement and press release, regardless of grammatical and spelling errors, logical failings, vagueness, obtuseness, or poetic flights of fancy.

I swear never to use any common or grammatically correct English pronoun, adjective, or description when it is possible to use or invent a stereotype-unchallenged construction.

I swear to decline sexual favors, home-cooked meals, or any other form of payment in exchange for a favorable review.

I swear to keep in mind the psychological and financial well-being of the artists, curators, and dealers whose shows I review.

I swear never to review relatives, friends, lovers, former relations, or people to whom I owe money. I will hereby sever all my social ties with the art-world.

I swear never to sully my work as an art critic with the expectation of compensation, as it is a vocation, a labor of love, my service to my community and the endeavor that gives my life meaning.

I swear to strive to get along well with others, to the best of my ability.


--Maria José Barandiarán and Michael Bulka