Art critic Jerry Saltz is regarded as a pioneer of online art criticism by the mainstream press, yet the Internet has been used as a platform for art discussion for over 30 years. There have been studies of independent print-based arts publishing, online art production and electronic literature, but there have been no histories of online art criticism. In this article, the author provides an account of the first wave of online art criticism (1980–1995) to document this history and prepare the way for thorough evaluations of the changing form of art criticism after the Internet.
The author develops a theory showing how archival technicity impacts art historical thinking. She describes an example of a web-based art critcal/contextual platform and indicates the prevalent theme of performativity in art history as per today's web-based archival imperative.