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The Washington Post finally has a new visual art critic. Philip Kennicott, currently the paper’s culture critic, will fill the post vacated by Blake Gopnik in December. Kennicott will continue to write on architecture, one of the many topics he covered as culture critic; he’s been regularly reviewing museum exhibits since Gopnik’s departure.
Kennicott confirmed the news to Arts Desk via email.
No word on whether the Post will search for a new culture critic—-in that role, Kennicott covered a wide swath of disciplines. Kennicott wasn’t sure what will happen to that job. “I think many of the ‘culture critic’ type pieces I was doing will probably continue in some form under the new ‘art critic’ title, such as the images pieces and some of the commentary on museum culture,” he wrote.
Memo to WaPo staff is below:
After an intensive search, we’ve found the perfect art critic for Style, and, fortunately for us, his work already graces our pages: Philip Kennicott.
Since joining The Post in 1999, Phil has made his mark as a critic and keen observer of our culture across various artistic disciplines. He is the very definition of a polymath. He started out covering classical music here, then became culture critic in 2001. In that spot, he has written about architecture, design, theater, opera and the impact of images in the media. He also wrote a remarkable series about emerging democratic movements in the former Soviet bloc in 2005.
As culture critic, Phil developed a particular expertise in pivoting off the news to produce thought-provoking and controversial pieces — for example, on the photos from Abu Graib; the caricatures of Obama as The Joker during the campaign; and plans for the Park 51 Islamic center near Ground Zero. He has also written passionately on the need for keeping Washington’s public spaces open despite stringent security requirements post-9/11.
Phil been covering major art exhibitions regularly during our search. His keen intellect, refined aesthetic and never-hold-back approach to criticism will serve readers well in a museum-rich city that houses and hosts some of the world’s greatest works of art, as well an emerging cadre of local artists.
Additionally, Phil will continue to be our lead writer on architecture and contribute pieces on other subjects, as he has been doing so ably on the Civil War project. He will begin on the new beat May 2.
KEVIN RICH LYNN NED