November 27, 2012
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“Black artists didn’t invent assemblage.” That statement, and others like it, written by The New York Times art critic Ken Johnson, has provoked the ire of fellow critics, artists, and Times readers alike. His remarks about two recent exhibitions, Now Dig This! Art & Black Los Angeles 1960-1980 and The Female Gaze: Women Artists Making Their World have exploded into a tirade across Facebook—with complaints lodged by Kara Walker and Jerry Saltz among others—and now, an anonymous group has gone so far as to petition the Times to “acknowledge and address this editorial lapse and the broader issues raised by these texts.” So, what are these broader issues, and problems, if any?