Social media gets a lot of bad press, but sometimes, it serves better than an orthodox source of information.

Consider the non-story made to look like news in Artforum magazine headlined "Top Art Critic Roberta Smith Retires From The New York Times."

Even the Gray Lady herself offered a similar header: "Roberta Smith is retiring."

But far from buzzworthy, such proclamations suggest that Smith will no longer be writing for the Times. Yet she will. This is where social media comes in.

An inside baseball story

Smith posted on Instagram that she would still write for the Times, but less often.

So, what we have here is a simple shift in her work schedule. Thank you, Instagram.

The critic also posted her reason for continuing with her work for the Times: "I will have more time to pursue my number one interest, which is going to galleries and museums, looking at stuff."

That "stuff" she references reminded me of her preferred "stuff" – namely the work of Minimalist sculptor Donald Judd. She made this clear in an obit when he died in 1994. Artforum provided the clip. Thank you, Artforum.

Smith said that Judd didn't like being called a Minimalist; instead, he favored "empiricist." He also didn't like being called a sculptor, saying it implied "carving."

And another thing Judd didn't like was the art of painting.

He called it a dead art.

Painting versus sculpture

Arguments about painting versus sculpture are as old as the seven hills of Rome. Leonardo da Vinci didn't think much of sculpture any more than Judd thought of painting. But then again, he had a bias. The Old Master was a painter.

Even so, Leonardo's low opinion of sculpture as an art form was mighty low.

As he wrote in "The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci," "Painting is the more beautiful and the more imaginative and the more copious, while sculpture is the more durable, but it has nothing else."

Judd's low opinion of painting aside, there's something else he didn't like: getting his hands dirty and doing his work – large-scale spare cubic and rectilinear structures – himself.

Smith acknowledged Judd's disregard for doing his own work, although her high regard for him comes through like this: "Much was made of the fact that Mr. Judd's work was fabricated by others," as if too much was made of this fact.

Calling him "Mr. Judd" showed her high regard for him despite his ways and means. She even quoted him rationalizing his hands-off process: "Art need only be interesting." Translation: never mind art movements and styles and who actually created them.

Of course, by that logic, everyday objects – machine-made and mass-produced, such as the paper clip and safety pin, are art forms.

Another Judd bon mot: "Art is something you look at." In that case, the world and everything we see in it is art.

This definition would not only leave out the hands of artists but also artists themselves.

None of this is to say that Judd was alone in his way of thinking about art. In Smith's hero-worshipping obit, she said this about him: "Like the efforts of other Minimalists, including Dan Flavin, Frank Stella, Carl Andre, and Robert Morris, his simple, factory-made forms were seen as "radically depersonalized" (in the words of one critic Hilton Kramer), devoid of emotion and signaling a dead end for art."

Why an art critic who wants "more time to pursue my number one interest, which is going to galleries and museums, looking at stuff," would favor this guy is beyond my understanding unless she's into paper clips, too.