Is Art Criticism essential?

Art criticism has historically been an important part of the art world, such as Clement Greenberg’s influence on the success of the abstract expressionist. But is art criticism an essential part of this world? Does it exist in its own sphere, isolated from the real world as Ben Davis expresses in his Theses on Art and Class? I am not convinced that art does or should fit in this separate sphere, untethered from the same rules of the “non-art” world as Davis puts it. While critique is an important step in an artists development of their work and practice, is a critic an important player in the game of art as a whole? Must you be well versed in the historical context of the art world in order to have an opinion about it or the contemporary art which feeds it? The argument can be made that this academic approach to the visual arts has made a significant impact on contemporary art that exists within the institution. But an argument can also be made that this has ungrounded art from being relatable, that it has driven art to be only obtainable and understood to those who exist within its sphere.

So is art criticism an essential part of this world? It has certainly had an impact on it, and has shaped the way art is approached. And while the role of a critic in this visual arts sphere, which they have created, is in a state constant flux as the art world changes around it, the critics have engrained themselves into this world for better or worse.

Dylan Draper



  1. Art Criticism is an essential part of this as it offers a constant advancement or changing of an artist’s work as stated in the original blog, but that it also does offer one who may not be as historically versed in art a chance to read a rhetoric of an art exhibit, a specific work or of an artist and can either follow the opinion of the critic or at least learn something from the work and begin to form a foundation to form their own critique on the work. Which I believe makes it a key player in the art game. However, one does not need to know a historical-context to form a critique of the work. Saying this I must also state that having a historical context of a work or works will change the critic’s critique. The presence of a historical context does make the critic one with more of educational stability to support the critique.
    –Krista Kelly

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  2. I agree with you– I’m also not convinced that art criticism should be in its own sphere. But, the thing is, I don’t think it is. I believe, especially after hearing from Chad, that criticism isn’t inherently critical, overbearing, or dull. I think that criticism, in art as well as in life, is a breath of fresh air that can help by giving direction. It tends to come off as esoteric, but can apply to relevant, constructive topics if given the chance.

    -Hannah Jurgens

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  3. I think that when art criticism started it was necessary for it to be so academic. There were symbols and icons ingratiated into works that needed explanation. The cricism acts as a decoder for the viewer in a way that creates place as a necessity. For the contemporary world, I believe art criticism acts in the same way. The more abstract a piece, the more it opens itself up for discussion and interpretation, done by critics and viewers alike.

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