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The Critic as Artist


Reading International

You are invited to the opening of ‘The Critic as Artist’ alongside a full day of readings, performances and events to launch Reading International’s autumn 2017 season.

Saturday 7 October 2017
1.00pm to 8.00pm


A free coach to Reading will leave from two collection points in London – Whitechapel Art Gallery and Frieze Art Fair – and return visitors after the final performance. To book your place please contact Kirsten Cooke, Reading International Assistant Curator: 


‘The Critic as Artist’
curated by Michael Bracewell and Andrew Hunt
Reading Museum
10 October 2017 to 28 January 2018

Including work by Miles AldridgeStephen Buckley, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Lucienne Cole, Dexter DalwoodKaye Donachie, Donna Huddleston, Travis Jeppesen, Gareth Jones, Scott King,Linder, Bertie Marshall, Malcolm Mclaren, Katrina Palmer, Alessandro Raho, Simeon Soloman, Cally Spooner and Katharina Wulff.

‘The Critic as Artist’ is an exhibition at Reading Museum about and for the Irish writer and dramatist Oscar Wilde, who had been a visitor to Reading prior to his imprisonment at Reading Gaol, and whose ideas and legend remain startlingly contemporary.

Appropriately, the museum in Reading is housed in a building partially designed by Waterhouse which opened in 1883, the year Wilde set sail to ‘declare his genius’ to America. Rather than focus on Wilde’s sensational and tragic downfall, as is too often the case, ‘The Critic as Artist’ examines the author’s theories of aesthetics and art criticism, which advocated freedom from moral restraint and the limitations of society, as well as the creative ability of criticism to reach beyond the limitations of the work of art. These were and remain radical, integral to a developing idea of ‘the modern’ and above all joyously balanced between seriousness, ironic play, provocation, poetry and paradox.

With this in mind, the exhibition is titled after Wilde’s celebrated essay of 1891, in which he lays out the central points of his aesthetic and art critical theories. Wilde subtitled his essay, ‘With some remarks upon the importance of doing nothing’ – championing indolence as necessary to artistic cultivation, and pose, repose and contemplation as elevated modes of existence – very much in the lineage of what Kierkegaard had previously defined as the ‘glittering inactivity’ of the aesthetic state.

Combining the historical and the contemporary, notions of the cult of the beautiful with the role of the critic, symbolist fantasy and the many-layered relationships between life, morality and art, ‘The Critic as Artist’ aims to combine substantial homage and renewed interpretation of Wildean aesthetic theory, while remaining very much in the spirit of his own serious play – the ‘new Hellenism’ of artistic ideas.


Full schedule of events for Saturday 7 October:

Launch event for
‘reading in Reading’
by David Raymond ConroyGhislaine Leung, Cally Spooner and Jesper List Thomsen
Reading Library, Abbey Square, Reading RG1 3BQ, UK.


2.00pm to 4.00pm
Opening of
‘The Critic as Artist’
Reading Museum, Blagrave Street, Reading RG1 1QH, UK.
Exhibition runs through to Saturday 27 January 2018
Includes readings and performances by Travis JeppesonBertie Marshall and Cally Spooner.


4.00pm to 6.00pm
Opening of
How a Black Void Replaces the White Cube and a Painting Moves from the Fine to the Performing Arts
by Abel Auer
The Rising Sun Arts Centre, 30 Silver Street, Reading RG1 2ST, UK.
Exhibition runs through to Saturday 11 November 2017


6.00pm to 8.00pm
Performance of
 ‘Ante Phylloxera’
by Rochelle GoldbergVeit Laurent KurzStefan Tcherepnin and friends
South Street Arts Centre, 21 South Street, Reading RG1 4QU, UK.
‘Ante Phylloxera’ will run from 14 October to Saturday 11 November 2017
at Jelly, 53 Broad Street, Reading RG1 2AA, UK.


For further information and images, please contact Kirsten Cooke, Reading International Assistant Curator on  / +44 (0)118 378 8050


Reading International is supported by Arts Council England, the University of Reading and Reading Borough Council.