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Writings: The Art of Criticizing Art

I wonder how many art critics are frustrated former artists who climbed the stairs of social success through chit-chat and favors to reach a semi-respectable position in their mini-universe allowing them to successfully suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect?

You can always tell if an art critic is merely a failed artist by the way they dispense their criticism. Do they treat the artist and their art respectfully or is the purpose of their critique to slam and “shut down” the artist?

Norman Rockwell's "Art Critic" (1955)A quick glance across art history shows us that art is changeable and highly subjective. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Yet art and what art is is constantly being defined and redefined, like anyone could ever reach the ultimate conclusion.

According to the dictionary art is the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

Therein lies the problem.

Many artists, in order to be commercially successful, conform to “the latest fashion”. If you, as an artist, happen to not fit the taste of the masses, or simply not be willing to conform to it, then you have made a pretty big decision, the consequences of which ripple on and outward, and may make their way back to you to bite you in your derrière.

But there are worse things than being bit.

 

I will close this with the words of Oscar Wilde:

“A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is. It has nothing to do with the fact that other people want what they want. Indeed, the moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist, and becomes a dull or an amusing craftsman, an honest or dishonest tradesman. He has no further claim to be considered as an artist. “

…and Henri Matisse: “Creativity takes courage.”

Sabina Nore
September 2011

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