Interview with Wouter Davidts

Christian Alonso


Art critic Wouter Davidts is professor of Modern Art History at the VU University in Amsterdam since 2009. Despite his young age, Davits is part of the most distinguished art theoreticians in our contemporary scene. He is the author of Bouwen voor de kunst? Museumarchitectuur van Centre Pompidou tot Tate Modern (A&S/books, 2006), the editor of The Fall of the Studio: Artists at Work (Valiz, 2009; With Kim Paice) and CRACK: Koen van den Broek (Valiz, 2010). Davidt’s body of work mainly focuses on the museum, contemporary art and architecture. He furthermore curated exhibitions such as Philippe Van Snick. Undisclosed Recipients at (BK SM Mechelen, 2006) and Beginners & Begetters at Extra City (Antwerp, 2007). The following text is based on an interview made on date 24th March 2010.

Wouter Davits does not make a division between the figure of the Art historian and the Art critic. He thinks that while historical work taught in Universities can achieve a real critical position, it can also disregard it. Therefore, he does not join the argument which considers the university with no real connection with what is happening in the actual field. ‘I think that practice of writing benefits form both aspects’ – he suggests. He noticed that nowadays, especially when one is young, there is a necessity to be on the forefront. ‘Then criticism seems to be the most active way of involving with the field’. Although Davidts is obviously interested in Art criticism, he is tending to write less and less critical reviews since he is giving lectures at the VU University. He also invests a lot of time writing books, ones that – as he argues- can work as criticism too. The book about Belgian artist Koen van den Broek for instance, works as an example of both criticism and a sort of promotion for the artist. He considers this kind of work more rewarding than writing reviews, even though, as he puts, “I have learned the skill of writing trough doing reviews”.