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Teaches at Rutgers. All time worst instructor ever. Toothless, often doesn't show up. If he does, it is usually late. Tolerated by all-male faculty boy's club. Big drinker although not a drunk. Just enough to make a female grad student uncomfortable being alone with him at a school event. Gets too close. Notorious backstabber. OK artist. Decent writer. Awful human being. -A Current Rutger's Grad Student
Really? One of the most intuitive, funny, generous, think-outside-the-box teachers I've ever had the honor to work with and be inspired by. Academia is lucky to have him. Do yourself a favor and take a moment to research his hundreds of poetry books and collaborative works and decades of art criticism and you might understand a bit this guy's place in art history. Groundbreaking stuff. Then you might get beyond the petty, and cut the guy some slack on a personal level.
to the first commenter:You're a grad student and you don't know that there's no apostrophe in your school's name?
I was a grad student of his 10+ years ago and found him energizing and inspiring. He was informed and enthusiastic about contemporary art, art history and literature. I still value many of the things he taught.
I worked at a gallery that he regularly wrote many catalog essays for. He often and fully took advantage of his role as a famous critic to secure fat kickbacks and free work from artists. The worst part is that I was a fan of his work as poet, the experience sullied all that for me.
John is one of the of the “old lions”, an influential poet with a long list of published works, a hard nosed critic with an encyclopedic knowledge of current art history, and a dedicated educator who’s “reached out” for his students.His critical work began in the seventies, probably before most of the folks reading this post were born. He’s written for all the bigs, AA, ARTFORUM et. al. Since he came on board at the ‘Rail he’s done more than anyone to raise the standards and encourage the writers to wield more critical pens. His reviews are some of the most fearless art writing out there. He’s plainly stated obvious weaknesses in major artist’s works that most of the MSM writers either didn’t see or were too cowed to mention (check his Richard Prince review) and he's challenged the rest of the NY critical establishment to stop writing ad copy. Some of his feature pieces on under-recognized artists are a great service to the community, filling in gaps in our art historic canon. “Big drinker although not a drunk.” Gees Current Rutger's Grad Student, time to get back to the convent, Mother Superior says it’s time for vespers.
although the first comment is a little over-blown (says more about you than mr. yau) i have to concur that he can be a back stabber, based on my professional dealing with mr. yau ( as an artist). the brooklyn rail supports brooklyn on provincial, as well as professional concerns. they covet relationships with locals while stereotyping things outside the burrough. i moved from a brooklyn gallery to a manhattan gallery and mr yau's enthusiasm was cut off at the east river. very un-new york. an ugly lesson.
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