It’s not that all art critics intend to mislead or that they purposefully or maliciously often go over — or under — the top (although I do suspect some exaggeration at times and, all too often, some relatively literate gobbledygook — but then, both critics and artists are equally guilty of that). Historically, their role as “middlemen” between artists and viewers has been largely foisted upon them by a world that has never properly understood “art” — with the jury, in fact, still out on just what "art" is. Not even the "experts" are in agreement here — I am (or was formerly) a member of such organizations as the International Association of Art Critics (AICA), the American Society for Aesthetics, etc. and my head still spins after each new journal gives me more "definitions" to consider. Not long ago, I received a set of books for review — a set of five from the Oxford University Press that promised to look at art history — and I quote here — "from a fresh perspective". Some prominent 'modern' art critic "experts", in fact, have declared art "dead", even bestowing the title "genius" on such "pop artists" as Andy Warhol for bringing us to the point of not being able to distinguish between a box of Brillo or a picture of a box of Brillo! So, how can you coherently and believably critique something that will not stand still long enough to even determine its broadest outlines?
Magill, Frank N., Critical Survey of Long Fiction, English Language Series, Revised Edition and Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Foreign Language Series
These two series have short biographical and in-depth critical essays on major authors and their works. Each essay also includes a brief annotated bibliography of further readings.
Essays on Books, Poems, Plays, and Movies
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illogical, warm, cool, symbolic, etc.
Well then, how about artists speaking about their art? Herbert George Wells warned that "An artist who theorizes about his work is no longer artist but critic" while a number of people have pointed out that "if artists made good critics, there wouldn't be any bad artists". Every serious artist I've ever known, has judiciously been silent on the subject of their art; it is the glib ones I am suspicious of — and there are a great many — too many — out there roiling the waters and the only thing unmistakable about their statements is that they are less in the business of making art and more in the business of making money. Over the years I've been writing for art times, I've often railed against the absurdly ridiculous "artist's statement" requested by galleries and/or exhibition venues to display during an exhibition. Damn! Don't they know that the artist's "statement" is already framed and hanging on every wall, in every room, of the exhibition space? What else — what words — need be said? And, if words are needed, doesn't that imply that the art has failed to stand on its own? My friend Rick Pantell, master print-maker and teacher at the Art Students League of New York, once remarked: “If they invite a poet to speak, do they ask him/her to first draw a picture?”
g. Portrayal of movement and how it is achieved
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.
h. Effect of particular medium(s) used
As I note above, think of the U.N. Each person has a "label" identifying him/her as a "Palestinian", "Russian", "Israeli", and so on. Once we learn the "label" we no longer have to deal with them as a "human", as a "Thou", as an existing phenomenon we ought to experience and get to know and understand. They are "its". My "father", my "sister", my "boss", my "student", a "Democrat", a "holy man", a "guest", and so on, and so on. How then can we truly "see" a work of "art", experience it on our own terms, by reading someone's words about it? Watching a person in a museum with headphones, "seeing" the art in front of them through the use of their ears rather than their eyes, continually puts me off. "Note the splash of red in Corot's painting — his usual 'trademark' or 'signature', if you will, that you will find in almost every one of his works", they hear the "expert" saying. So, for ever after, the visitor will seek out — and see — that "splash of red" in a Corot and simply stop looking, studying, experiencing, the work as a whole, excitedly awaiting the moment when the "knowledge" can be passed on, proudly showing everyone that they, also, are an "expert" with a label, a word. It's like the old "How to make gold out of water" gag: Pour water into an aluminum pot, set it over a flame until it boils, but do NOT think of 'hippopotamus' during any part of the process". Yeah, right. Now try it; try to erase "hippos" from your mind while "making gold" and "red" while looking at a Corot.