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Thread: What is Criticism?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2001

    What is Criticism?

    What is Criticism? Folks here seem to agree that transcendening is neither encou raged nor acceptable. So what do we discuss on. Take for instance "The Steerage" by Stieglitz. How do we interprete or evaluate it? How do we even judge it and based on what theory or critera? Is the artist's verbalisation to be taken into account? Do critics have the last say about what they critique on? The last few threads seemed to conclude that photographers should just present our photograph s and "shut-up!" So as to leave the general audience to decide if the artworks a ppeal to them. Then what is the job (and justification for) of the critics? Your thoughts??


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    What is Criticism?

    Some information at:

  3. #3

    What is Criticism?

    The job of the critics is to promote sales of the publications, or sales of the broadcasting airtime, for the companies that pay their wages...

  4. #4

    What is Criticism?

    OOPS...sorry, I didn't sign that last posting correctly...

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Apr 2000

    What is Criticism?


    I think you are still trying to translate photographs into words and then deal with the words. This misses the point of visual art. If something is best expressed in words, use words. If best in pictures, use pictures. It's up to the audience to perceive or not once the artist has chosen the medium. Verbalizing your experience of visual art is more likely to diminish than enhance the experience.

    As for criticism, there are two very different meanings to the term. The first is best exemplified by an honest movie reviewer. Her published opinions are helpful to an audience. They are irrelevant to a creator's efforts (though they may have a strong impact on the creator's financial success). The other model is the accomplished artist giving a Master Class. He coaches the aspiring artist to increase strengths and avoid weaknesses. The process is of no interest whatsoever to the audience, but the result may be.

    As for Stieglitz, he's been dead for over half a century and never listened to anyone while he was alive, so the only role of criticism would be on the lines of the first model. Pointing out that Stieglitz made great photographs and that an audience will do well to study and enjoy his work is a great idea. Trying to figure out what "The Steerage" means in words is just a wast

  6. #6

    What is Criticism?

    Aaron: Criticism is akin to listening to the President speak on television, then having all the dumbass reporters get on the air and tell us what he really said and meant because they think the audience is too stupid to listen and understand. In doint the art shows with my photography, I have learned the true value of criticism. If the criticism is good, I get a ribbon and a check from the judges. If bad, I get nothing. I have showed at larger shows and got a first place and then go to another, smaller show, and not even won an honorable mention. Critics have their own likes and dislikes just like you and I have, and their opinion is no more important. Most critics are self appointed or hired by a publication to fill a hole in the page. Tolerate them, but don't put too much weight to what they say.


  7. #7

    What is Criticism?

    November, l946

    To all critics, pro or con--my work or anyone's work--in photography,painting, sculpture or music, I say (digo yo) you can't explain a Bach fugue. If you could you would explain away its very meaning--its reason for existence.

    -E. Weston, The Flame of Recognition

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA

    What is Criticism?

    What Doug Paramore said.

    They pool their ignorance and see what floats to the top.

    Photographs need to stand on their own. I don't buy into crummy photos with huge long narratives about their transcendance. =BS

    I do enjoy a sentance or two about where how why.

    What really smokes me is some crummy picture and an artist that states "if you have to ask............blah blah blah."
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    So. California

    What is Criticism?

    There is no justification for critics! The only critic that matters in my work is me. I think the quote by Weston said it quite well. Pat

  10. #10

    What is Criticism?

    I think a good critic can bring out ideas about the work in question. These can be ideas that the artist had but couldn't or didn't choose to verbalize, ideas that the artist wasn't conscious about expressing, or ideas that are off-the-wall and appear to have no validity. It can be interesting and even illuminating to hear or read what people say about art. It can also be annoying or trite. Bad critics, in my opinion, think that they have great wisdom to impart - definitive verdicts instead of ideas. They deliver their verdicts from an isolated narcissistic height. The problem with criticism today is that it is too influenced by current New York art scene - the incestuous cicle of collusion between gallery managers, curators and collectors. It has not always been that way in New York, but it is in a bad way now. I don't however think that there is anything intrinsically wrong with criticism. They bring work to our attention, ocassionally help artists hone their vision and can help stimulate debate about art.


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