Raphael Rubinstein is a New York-based poet and art critic whose numerous books include Polychrome Profusion: Selected Art Criticism 1990-2002,  The Afterglow of Minor Pop Masterpieces and The Miraculous. He edited the anthology Critical Mess: Art Critics on the State of their Practice and is widely known for his articles on “provisional painting.” His poetry has appeared in, among other places, Grand Street, Fence and Harper’s Magazine and in Best American Poetry 2015. From 1997 to 2007 he was a senior editor at Art in America, where he continues to be a contributing editor. He is currently professor of critical studies at the University of Houston. In 2002, the French government presented him with the award of Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters. In 2010, his blog The Silo won a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. In 2014 The Silo was given a Best Blog Award of Excellence by the International Association of Art Critics. In April 2017, The Miraculous: Houston, a public-art installation by artist Heather Bause based on his book The Miraculous debuted as part of the CounterCurrent Festival.

11 Responses to About

  1. I just finished reading your article in the February issue of Art in America. Well done. It really brought together many of the issues and ideas that I think about in my life and my work.
    I have always loved those stories about Giacometti and found his struggle to be creative a continuing source of inspiration. He reminds us all that were are like Prometheus in our repeated attempts to roll our rock up the mountain to only see it come crashing down again time after time. In spite of his frustrations Giacometti never gives up trying. I’m reminded of the Inuit who throw away their carvings after the work is finished. It is the process that is important and not the end result. It is the act of being creative in spite of knowing of the coming failure that is the true challenge as an artist. After all, it is the struggle that is interesting in any story. A work of perfection is inherently boring in this age if at anytime.
    I was also excited to see you are teaching at U. of H. I was there in the 80’s and was lucky enough to study with Barthelme and Shange. In a funny twist of fate I ended up falling in with sculpture crowd at the Lawndale founded by James Surls. It’s great to see that you are part of that continuing tradition.
    Mark Castator

  2. Just finished reading your article “The Active Voice: 12 Poems on Contemporary Art” (Art in America/June – July 2013) and really enjoyed the diverse selection of writers and artists that you selected for the piece. Thank you for sharing these ekphrastic works with a wider audience. Rarely have I flipped through a mainstream art magazine and found myself reading the poetry of my contemporaries. Strangely, this has happened to me twice today already, as the current Art Forum features poetry by Carl Andre. This must mean that all hope is not lost for those of us who begin to create with our words.

    Natasha Marin

  3. Pingback: The Miraculous, a Book About Art That Is a Work of Art Itself - artnet News

  4. Kevin Avery says:

    Just a note to say that I greatly enjoyed your article in the July – August BROOKLYN RAIL, “Bartleby on Carmine Street” (http://www.brooklynrail.org/2016/07/fiction/bartleby-on-carmine-street). More to the point, thank you for your kind mentions of my book, EVERYTHING IS AN AFTERTHOUGHT.

    Kindest regards,

    Kevin Avery

    • Raphael Rubinstein says:

      Thanks, Kevin. I could never have written my memoir of Paul Nelson without your great biography of him!

  5. Hello,

    I am from the broke, Black and brilliant corner of life, specifically NYC by way of Uganda. I’m a writer, rapper, vocalist and dancer doing visual art for the 1st time in my life ambitiously. I picked up some art magazines someone was throwing away including the March 1988* issue of ARTS mag which I’m in the middle of reading right now…your analysis of Melissa Meyers’ journey and yourself as her critic are as intuitive and inspiring as her art. I found a new favorite painter and writer today. I hope one day you collaborate with me in the mediums of Hip Hop, lyricism and the aesthetics of my cultures in art. Thank you and positive thoughts.

    Emma Lee

    • Raphael Rubinstein says:

      Dear Emma Lee,

      I love this story, how you found a nearly 30-year-old article of mine in a magazine someone was throwing away, and were inspired by it. Art criticism never has many readers to begin with, and the only people interested in old art criticism are usually art historians. It’s reassuring to know that old articles can have a second life. I wish you luck with your multi-medium artforms!

  6. AZARIA says:

    I have a query: how can Raphael justify translating judeo-espagnol in French by Ladino in English?

    Isn’it a major gross error?

    • Raphael Rubinstein says:

      I’m not sure I completely understand your question. The issue of translation in my translation of Marcel Cohen’s book “In Search of a Lost Ladino” is complicated. As I explain in my introduction, I translated from the author’s French translation of his own Ladino text. I consulted the Ladino original (as well as I could, not speaking the language myself), but what I primarily translated was Cohen’s French. The title page of the book simply says “translated by Raphael Rubinstein” without specifying the language.

  7. Ke Yi says:

    Hi Raphael,

    I am reading your curious, fascinating, wondrous . I love love the story of Perec, Georges: 22, so I googled Georges Perec, is the Georges Perec the French Novelist who wrote Things: A Stories of the Sixties? I’d really appreciate it if you can confirm the identity of this watercolor artist!

    best regards,
    Ke Yi

    • Raphael Rubinstein says:

      Dear Ke Yi,

      Yes, the inspiration for episode 22 in “The Miraculous” is, indeed, Georges Perec. The tale of the painter Percival Bartlebooth comes from Perec’s novel “Life: A User’s Manual” (La Vie: Mode d’Emploi). This is one of three fictional artists in The Miraculous.

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