Bashing Art Critics


The other evening I was reading a blog post written by Jonathan Jones, the art critic for the Guardian. His jumping-off point was how art critics get bashed for saying “I like this” and “I don’t like that”. Jonathan points to a recent interview with Lucien Freud where the artist himself is listing artists he likes and doesn’t. So, artists do it, too – have gut reactions, off the cuff, intuitive responses to artwork. It would appear that we all start off at like and dislike. It’s called taste.

So why do critics get to print their opinions in the New York Times and such? And why do people pay attention? It’s because critics put their visual and emotional reactions to art into words. The thoughtful process of verbalizing what may have been a gut feeling hones our tastes and is essential to the development of judgment. And reading the thoughtful opinion of someone else can cause us to vehemently disagree, and therefore bash.

Freud goes on to dump Delacroix from his likes list, and Jones admits to changing his mind on Delaroche. Critics see a lot of art, and although comparison of better to best does knock good work out of the top spot (i.e. Delacroix), exposure to a large number of paintings is imperative for the maturity of judgment.

So what does this matter to you and me? Whether you are an artist or a collector – or both, recognizing quality in art is key to knowing when to stop working on a painting and when to purchase one. We all start with “I like this” and I don’t like that”. It’s when we start delving into the “Why?” that the true riches of art begin revealing themselves. Look at a lot of art and take the time to know, in words, what you think of it. But, once you articulate your opinion, prepare to be bashed.

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Source by Nancy D Marshall