Here’s an interesting passage from Octavio Paz’s introduction to his Essays on Mexican Art:
Between 1830 and 1930 artists formed a society within society or, more exactly, a confrontation with it. The rebellion of artistic communities against the taste of the Academy and the bourgeoisie manifested itself, brilliantly and consistently, in the critical works of a number of poets: Baudelaire, Apollinaire, Breton. I have mentioned only French poets because the phenomenon occurred most strikingly and most decisively in Paris, which was the center of modern art during those hundred years. These poets were not only the voice but the conscience of artists. After the Second World War the focal point of world art shifted to New York. […] No great poet writing in English has been, as Baudelaire was, a great art critic as well. The most serious consequence was the change in the social situation of artists: in New york the art galleries, closely connected to the great economic network, direct and promote artistic movements (and at times invent them), dominate museums, and have appropriated the functions that once belong to critics. Poets have ceased to be the conscience of modern art. (But does modern art still have a conscience?) The great rebellion of art and poetry began with Romanticism; a century and half later artists had been assimilated and integrated into the circular process of the market. They are just another part meshing with the rest of the financial train of gear wheels as it goes round and round.
I wonder if poets, via the workshop system rather than the gallery system, haven’t been similarly co-opted. And I wonder—after roving among the Flarfists and the post-avants, among the neo-formalists and the hybridists, among the career-seekers at AWP and the winners of Guggenheims and Fulbrights—if one can honestly say that poetry still has a conscience.