Peter Plagens

A provocative critic and painter reflects on 50 years in the art world

Self-described curmudgeon and esteemed critic Peter Plagens talks to us about his 50-year career as both an artist and writer. Early on he befriended renegade multimedia maestro Bruce Nauman, who later became the subject of his monograph, Bruce Nauman: The True Artist (Phaidon, 2014)—a friendship that involved such things as playing in the same basketball league and running on a treadmill in Nauman’s studio as part of a video project.


Plagens talks to us about his day-to-day life as a critic for ARTforum, Newsweek, and, most recently, the Wall Street Journal (even though he’s not a Republican and almost has “apoplexy” when he reads the editorial page). As our slideshow this week attests, he is also an adventurous painter, who shows regularly at Nancy Hoffmann, but his advice to younger artists is blunt: “Don’t be a critic.”


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