Criticism and the Fair Shake

June 13th, 2011

Barry Johnson wrote an impassioned, brilliant article about the role (and responsibilities) of a critic.

Most excellent reading:

I prefer a critic who doesn’t come to art with a measuring stick in hand, one who arrives with an open, curious and informed mind, one who struggles with the problems the art poses — technical, philosophical, political — not to mention the inherent problems of interpretation. The best criticism is only very tangentially positive or negative, and really, the best is always positive, because it takes me somewhere  I haven’t been, even if it’s just a convincing affirmation of opinions I already hold. That’s positive in my book.

I hate arrogant criticism, and what Parks proposes is arrogant criticism, Voice of God criticism: This art work goes to Heaven, this art work goes to Hell. Ridiculous.  How many times have I changed my mind about an artist or a work of art? Too many times to count. And I don’t trust critics who haven’t done the same thing, because it means 1) they’ve stopped thinking, or 2) their brains are addled by terminal confirmation bias. Why do I care where Karol Armitage fits in your personal scheme of Heaven and Hell? I don’t care at all.

(please) read the whole thing


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