Taste and Value

During our class discussion on Taste and Value, we considered some fundamental questions about critique and how it is related to us. Art critics have a negative stereotype, but why is this? After all, we all participate in the dialog of criticism everyday. It envelops us. It exists in our thoughts and in our conversations. We elaborate on the dialog from an art critic (or source of art and find ourselves functioning as our own critics), thus bringing art out into our lives. Yet despite us critiquing inside and outside of the art world („Yelp!“), many still regard art critics (critics in general? The film „Ratatouille“ was mentioned in class…) as snobs. Perhaps it has something to do with the history of the field and the intensely academic writing style we come across.

We also discussed how vocabulary can shape and classify you. One’s vocabulary repertoire sheds light on if one is informed or not. The question was also raised as to where our personal taste comes from. Taste is naturally influenced by one’s social surroundings— the environment in which one lives/ was raised— as well as exposure in the world (experience in other cultures/ with other people), education and is also partially based on personality. The point in class was made that some of us have siblings with whom we were raised, yet the siblings have very different tastes! Of course, despite having been brought up under the same roof, we still live out other experiences, so one could argue against this. I actually think that it is precisely the personality that accentuates the differences amongst siblings despite the same upbringing, just like the difference amongst members of the same culture or sub culture.




  1. I agree with your comment on personality affecting our taste. Growing up my brother and I had completely different hobbies and interests and on top of that we both deviated from what our parents liked as well. My Dad played baseball and basketball and as kids we would watch games with him on the television and go watch his softball games every weekend and we loved it and those sports because our Dad did. However even though both myself and my brother played sports we never played basketball or baseball, I ended up playing hockey and paintball while my brother was attracted to football and wrestling. If our taste was purely affected by our upbringing we both would have ended up playing basketball and baseball, but some other outside force drew us to different places.

    Matthew Draper


  2. Art critics are definitely considered to be snobs by most and I agree with Natasha that this is partially, possibly mostly, due to the vocabulary that these writers are using. As an art history student, I often find myself reading art criticism, essays, and other scholarly articles on art. Personally, I think finding a piece with little art jargon is like hitting the jackpot. I get frustrated when I read an entire page and do not grasp a single concept in it because of its vocabulary. I think this frustration is felt by the general public when they encounter art criticism or most criticism in general and this leads to the reader deliberately excluding themselves from that audience because they do not feel comfortable navigating the text. This causes the art critic to exist in a social limbo wherein only those that are capable of understanding are allowed to participate.



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