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For the threshold mass of a fissile material, see Critical mass. “Critique” redirects here. For the socialist magazine, see Critique (Journal of Socialist Theory). The word critic comes from the Greek κριτικός, kritikós - one who discerns, which itself arises from the Ancient Greek word κριτής, krités, meaning a person who offers reasoned judgement or analysis, value judgement, interpretation, or observation. The term can be used to describe an adherent of a position disagreeing with or opposing the object of criticism. Modern critics include professionals or amateurs who regularly judge or interpret performances or other works (such as that of artists, scientists, musicians or actors) and, typically, publish their observations, often in periodicals. Critics are numerous in certain fields, including art critics, music critics, film critics, theatre or drama, restaurant and scientific publication critics. Criticism in general terms means democratic judgement over the suitability of a subject for the intended purposes, as opposed to the authoritarian command, which is meant as an absolute realization of the authority's will, thus not open for debate. Criticism is the activity of judgement or informed interpretation. In literary and academic contexts, the term most frequently refers to literary criticism, art criticism, or other such fields, and to scholars' attempts to understand the aesthetic object in depth. In these contexts the term "critic", used without qualification, most frequently refers to a scholar of literature or another art form. In other contexts, the term describes hostility or disagreement with the object of criticism. Sometimes context, and the contentiousness of the subject, are the only differentiating factors between these two approaches. In politics, for instance (as in the phrase "criticism of U.S. foreign policy"), criticism almost exclusively refers to disagreement - while in an academic, artistic, or literary context (as in "criticism of Romantic poetry") it usually refers to the activity of subtle interpretation or analysis. Criticism can also be a tool of an anti-social behavior, such as a passive-aggressive attack. Constructive criticism is a form of communication in which a person tries to correct the behavior of another in a non-authoritarian way, and is generally, a diplomatic approach about what another person is doing socially incorrect. It is 'constructive' as opposed to a command or an insult and is meant as a peaceful and benevolent approach. Participatory learning in pedagogy is based on these principles of constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others with the intention of helping the reader or the artist, rather than creating an oppositional attitude. An art critic can also be a champion of a new artistic
movement in the face of a hostile public (e.g. John Ruskin), using scholarship and insight to show the value and depth of a new style. Critics might even champion a wholly new art medium; for instance the century-long critical struggle to have photography recognised as a valid art form. There can be a tension between constructive and useful criticism; for instance, a critic might usefully help an individual artist to recognise what is poor or slapdash in their body of work - but the critic may have to appear harsh and judgemental in order to achieve this. Criticism: An evaluation, both good and bad, based on prior knowledge.  Critique Critique, especially in philosophical contexts (where it is used to translate the German word Kritik), has a more clearly defined meaning than criticism. (Confusingly, the adjectival form of both critique and criticism is critical, making some uses ambiguous, e.g. "critical theory"). In this broadly political context, a critique is a systematic inquiry into the conditions and consequences of a concept or set of concepts, and an attempt to understand its limitations. A critical perspective, in this sense, is the opposite of a dogmatic one. In philosophy this sense of the word was defined by Immanuel Kant, who wrote: We deal with a concept dogmatically…if we consider it as contained under another concept of the object which constitutes a principle of reason and determine it in conformity with this. But we deal with it merely critically if we consider it only in reference to our cognitive faculties and consequently to the subjective conditions of thinking it, without undertaking to decide anything about its object. (Critique of Judgment sec. 74) Later thinkers used the word critique, in a broader version of Kant's sense of the word, to mean the systematic inquiry into the limits of a doctrine or set of concepts (for instance, much of Karl Marx's work was in the critique of political economy). The cultural studies approach to criticism arises out of critical theory. It treats cultural products and their reception as sociological evidence, which may be sceptically examined to divine wider social ills such as racism or gender bias. Art criticism is the written discussion or evaluation of visual art. Art critics usually criticize art in the context of aesthetics or the theory of beauty. One of criticism's goals is the pursuit of a rational basis for art appreciation. Though critiques of art may have lasted as long as art itself, art criticism as a genre refers to a systematic study of art performed by scholars and dedicated students of art and art theory. Throughout history, wealthy patrons have employed art-evaluators; however, only
from the 19th century onwards has criticism had developed formal methods and became a more common vocation.  The variety of artistic movements has resulted in a division of art criticism into different disciplines, each using vastly different criteria for their judgements. The most common division in the field of criticism is between historical criticism and evaluation, a form of art history, and contemporary criticism of work by living artists. Despite perceptions that art criticism is a much lower risk activity than making art, opinions of current art are always liable to drastic corrections with the passage of time. Critics of the past are often ridiculed for either favoring artists now derided (like the academic painters of the late 19th Century) or dismissing artists now venerated (like the early work of the Impressionists). Some art movements themselves were named disparagingly by critics, with the name later adopted as a sort of badge of honor by the artists of the style (e.g. Impressionism, Cubism), the original negative meaning forgotten. Artists have often had an uneasy relationship with their critics. Artists usually needs positive opinions from critics for their work to be viewed and purchased; unfortunately for the artists, only later generations may understand it. Some critics are unable to adapt to new movements in art and allow their opinions to override their objectivity, resulting in inappropriately dated critique. John Ruskin famously compared one of James Whistler's paintings to "flinging a pot of paint in the public's face".  Art critics of the pre-World War II era Bloomsbury Group members Roger Fry and Clive Bell were notable English pre-war art critics. Fry introduced post-impressionism to the country, and Bell was one of the founders of the formalist approach to art. Herbert Read championed modern British artists such as Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. In the U.S, Clement Greenberg first made his name as an art critic with his essay AvantGarde and Kitsch, first published in the journal Partisan Review in 1939.  Art critics of the post-World War II era In the 1940s there were not only few galleries (The Art of This Century) but also few critics who were willing to follow the work of the New York Vanguard. There were also a few artists with a literary background, among them Robert Motherwell and Barnett Newman who functioned as critics as well. As surprising as it may be, while New York and the world were unfamiliar with the New York avant-garde, by the late 1940s most of the artists who have become household names today had their well established patron critics: Clement Greenberg advocated Jackson Pollock and the Color field painters like Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Adolph Gottlieb and Hans Hofmann. Harold Rosenberg seemed to prefer the
action painters like Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline. Thomas B. Hess, the managing editor of Art News, championed Willem de Kooning. The new critics elevated their proteges by casting other artists as "followers" or ignoring those who did not serve their promotional goal. As an example, in 1958, Mark Tobey "became the first American painter since Whistler (1895) to win top prize at the Biennale of Venice. New York's two leading art magazines were not interested. Arts mentioned the historic event only in a news column and Art News (Managing editor: Thomas B. Hess) ignored it completely. The New York Times and Life printed feature articles." Mark Tobey by William C. Seitz, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1962). Barnett Newman, a late member of the Uptown Group wrote catalogue forewords and reviews and by the late 1940s became an exhibiting artist at Betty Parsons Gallery. His first solo show was in 1948. Soon after his first exhibition, Barnett Newman remarked in one of the Artists' Session at Studio 35: "We are in the process of making the world, to a certain extent, in our own image." Utilizing his writing skills, Newman fought every step of the way to reinforce his newly established image as an artist and to promote his work. An example is his letter in April 9, 1955, "Letter to Sidney Janis: ---It is true that Rothko talks the fighter. He fights, however, to submit to the philistine world. My struggle against bourgeois society has involved the total rejection of it." Strangely the person thought to have had most to do with the promotion of this style was a New York Trotskyist, Clement Greenberg. As long time art critic for the Partisan Review and The Nation, he became an early and literate proponent of abstract expressionism. Artist Robert Motherwell, well heeled, joined Greenberg in promoting a style that fit the political climate and the intellectual rebelliousness of the era. Clement Greenberg proclaimed Abstract Expressionism and Jackson Pollock in particular as the epitome of aesthetic value. It supported Pollock's work on formalistic grounds as simply the best painting of its day and the culmination of an art tradition going back via Cubism and Cézanne to Monet, in which painting became ever 'purer' and more concentrated in what was 'essential' to it, the making of marks on a flat surface. Jackson Pollock's work has always polarised critics. Harold Rosenberg spoke of the transformation of painting into an existential drama in Pollock's work, in which "what was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event". "The big moment came when it was decided to paint 'just to paint'. The gesture on the canvas was a gesture of liberation from value--political, aesthetic, moral." One of the most vocal critics of Abstract expressionism at the time was New York Times art critic John Canaday. Meyer Shapiro, and Leo Steinberg were also important art historians of the post-war era who voiced support for Abstract expressionism. During the early to mid sixties younger art critics Michael Fried, Rosalind Krauss and Robert
Hughes (critic) added considerable insights into the critical dialectic that continues to grow around Abstract expressionism. Other people, such as British comedian/satirist Craig Brown, have been astonished that decorative 'wallpaper', essentially brainless, could gain such a position in art history alongside Giotto, Titian and Velazquez. ART CRITICISM AND FORMAL ANALYSIS OUTLINE ART CRITICISM Defining Art Criticism • Art criticism is responding to, interpreting meaning, and making critical judgments about specific works of art. • Art critics help viewers perceive, interpret, and judge artworks. • Critics tend to focus more on modern and contemporary art from cultures close to their own. • Art historians tend to study works made in cultures that are more distant in time and space. • When initially introduced to art criticism, many people associate negative connotations with the word "criticism." A professional art critic may be • a newspaper reporter assigned to the art beat, • a scholar writing for professional journals or texts, or • an artist writing about other artists. Journalistic criticism – • Written for the general public, includes reviews of art exhibitions in galleries and museums. • (Suggestions that journalistic criticism deals with art mainly to the extent that it is newsworthy.) Scholarly art criticism
• Written for a more specialized art audience and appears in art journals. • Scholar-critics may be college and university professors or museum curators, often with particular knowledge about a style, period, medium, or artist. FORMAL ANALYSIS
-Four levels of formal analysis, which you can use to explain a work of art: 1. Description = pure description of the object without value judgments, analysis, or interpretation. • It answers the question, "What do you see?" • The various elements that constitute a description include: a. Form of art whether architecture, sculpture, painting or one of the minor arts b. Medium of work whether clay, stone, steel, paint, etc., and technique (tools used) c. Size and scale of work (relationship to person and/or frame and/or context) d. Elements or general shapes (architectural structural system) within the composition, including building of post-lintel construction or painting with several figures lined up in a row; identification of objects e. Description of axis whether vertical, diagonal, horizontal, etc. f. Description of line, including contour as soft, planar, jagged, etc. g. Description of how line describes shape and space (volume); distinguish between lines of objects and lines of composition, e.g., thick, thin, variable, irregular, intermittent, indistinct, etc. h. Relationships between shapes, e.g., large and small, overlapping, etc. i. Description of color and color scheme = palette j. Texture of surface or other comments about execution of work
k. Context of object: original location and date 2. Analysis = determining what the features suggest and deciding why the artist used such features to convey specific ideas. • It answers the question, "How did the artist do it?" • The various elements that constitute analysis include: a. Determination of subject matter through naming iconographic elements, e.g., historical event, allegory, mythology, etc. b. Selection of most distinctive features or characteristics whether line, shape, color, texture, etc. c. Analysis of the principles of design or composition, e.g., stable, repetitious, rhythmic, unified, symmetrical, harmonious, geometric, varied, chaotic, horizontal or vertically oriented, etc. d. Discussion of how elements or structural system contribute to appearance of image or function e. Analysis of use of light and role of color, e.g., contrasty, shadowy, illogical, warm, cool, symbolic, etc. f. Treatment of space and landscape, both real and illusionary (including use of perspective), e.g., compact, deep, shallow, naturalistic, random g. Portrayal of movement and how it is achieved h. Effect of particular medium(s) used i. Your perceptions of balance, proportion and scale (relationships of each part of the composition to the whole and to each other part) and your emotional j. Reaction to object or monument 3. Interpretation = establishing the broader context for this type of art. • It answers the question, "Why did the artist create it and what does it mean • The various elements that constitute interpretation include:
a. Main idea, overall meaning of the work. b. Interpretive Statement: Can I express what I think the artwork is about in one sentence? c. Evidence: What evidence inside or outside the artwork supports my interpretation? 4. Judgment: Judging a piece of work means giving it rank in relation to other works and of course considering a very important aspect of the visual arts; its originality. • Is it a good artwork? • Criteria: What criteria do I think are most appropriate for judging the artwork? • Evidence: What evidence inside or outside the artwork relates to each criterion? • Judgment: Based on the criteria and evidence, what is my judgment about the quality of the artwork?
Barrett's Principles of Interpretation 1. Artworks have "aboutness" and demand interpretation. 2. Interpretations are persuasive arguments. 3. Some interpretations are better than others. 4. Good interpretations of art tell more about the artwork than they tell about the critic. 5. Feelings are guides to interpretations. 6. There can be different, competing, and contradictory interpretations of the same artwork. 7. Interpretations are often based on a worldview. 8. Interpretations are not so much absolutely right, but more or less reasonable, convincing, enlightening, and informative.
9. Interpretations inclusiveness.
10. An artwork is not necessarily about what the artist wanted it to be about. 11. A critic ought not to be the spokesperson for the artist. 12. Interpretations ought to present the work in its best rather than its weakest light. 13. The objects of interpretation are artworks, not artists. 14. All art is in part about the world in which it emerged. 15. All art is in part about other art. 16. No single interpretation is exhaustive of the meaning of an artwork. 17. The meanings of an artwork may be different from its significance to the viewer. Interpretation is ultimately a communal endeavor, and the community is ultimately self- corrective. 18. Good interpretations invite us to see for ourselves and to continue on our own. Barrett, Terry. (1994) Criticizing Art: Understanding the Contemporary. Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Company. What is art? In 1963, Pop artist Andy Warhol exhibited "Brillo Box" in a New York gallery. The sculpture was identical in appearance to the large cardboard container in which little packages of Brillo are shipped to stores (though Warhol's is made of wood, not cardboard). You can see a version of the sculpture (three cartons rather than one) in the Modern wing of the Philadelphia museum of art. Is "Brillo Box" art? Customs agents said "No." When the work was shipped across the border to Canada for a show, it was taxed as a commercial product, and denied the special tax status of an art work. Art critic Arthur Danto, in Beyond the Brillo Box, sees "Brillo Box" as marking the end of modern western art, or at least of the linear history he thinks art had in the west from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century. From the middle of the nineteenth century, that history was one of increasingly radical challenges to the canons and conventions that were established in the Renaissance. At that time, the invention of geometrically precise
perspective, and many innovations in the use of oil paint, made possible a degree of realism in two dimensional representation of three dimensional reality that had never before been possible. The painter and art historian Vasari, in his Lives of the Painters, makes it clear that realistic representation of this sort is what painting is about. "Painting", he writes, "is just the imitation of all the living things of nature with their colors and designs just as they are in nature." "The School of Athens", the famous painting by Raphael found on the home page for this course, is a very detailed example of some of the techniques that made such realism possible (though in other ways it either gives the lie to Vasari's theory, or is a bad painting, since no photograph would ever have captured the symbolically rich and didactic image that Raphael gives us). The rennaissance canons persisted into the eighteenth century, though the kind of paintings that were done within them varied greatly. In the nineteenth century, however, they were challenged more and more radically. Thus, (to pick a few highlights), Delacroix's intense color, sinuous forms, and loose strokes are plainly designed to show what the artist sees and feels rather than to give a precise representation of things "just as they are in nature." Goya's "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters", and his "Third of May, 1808" move even farther away from literal realism, picturing fantasies and distorting exact resemblance in order to convey disturbing horrors more powerfully. Cezanne began using flat areas of color instead of modelling; Van Gogh let the brush strokes show, so that viewer looks at the paint instead of past it. Matisse flattens out the canvas, and gets rid of the illusion of depth. Picasso introduced primitive forms, and broke up forms so that they aren't seen from any one perspective. Klee, Kandinsky, and Mondrian painted abstractly, including fewer and less recognizable forms. Jackson Pollack dribbled paint on canvas. Danto sees Andy Warhol's work as a kind of final stop for this train. In the case of "Brillo Box", the only difference between art and non-art is the fact that art is displayed in art galleries! See also Wendell Castle.
Questions: Is there really a difference between fine art, commercial art,
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Who decides what is art? Can art be important and not beautiful? Is the Brillo Box art?
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What's the boundary between art and non art? What's the boundary between fine art and craft? Is a beautiful sunset art? Is a photograph of a beautiful sunset art? Can animals make art? Can a computer make art?
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