The Washington Post has found art critic Blake Gopnik’s replacement: Current Post culture and architecture critic Philip Kennicott.
The problem isn’t Kennicott, who is the most thoughtful writer on the Post’s Style section staff. This is bad news because the Post is downgrading its art critic’s duties to a part-time responsibility. According to a Washington Post memo, Kennicott will serve as the paper’s art critic, its “lead writer” on architecture and he’ll contribute “other pieces” as well. The Post’s halving of the job (or worse) continues a recent trend: Newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Diego Union-Tribune have all either laid off or lessened their art critics’ duties. [Note, 4/25: When I used the word “halving” I meant that Kennicott was now responsible for three areas — art, architecture and cultural criticism — not that the Post was halving the hours it was devoting to any one area.]
While those are all good art cities, none is Washington (America’s No. 3 art city) and none of those papers is as widely admired as the Washington Post. (True: The Post’s visual art coverage has long been lacking, as most recently evidenced by this.)
The Washington City Paper’s Jonathan Fischer has the Post’s memo here.