art criticism

art criticism
Description, interpretation, and evaluation of works of art, manifested in journal reviews, books, and patronage.

Art criticism encompasses a wide variety of approaches, from critical commentary to more subjective emotional reactions inspired by viewing works of art. Art criticism as a distinct discipline developed parallel to Western aesthetic theory, beginning with antecedents in ancient Greece and fully taking form in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 20th century perceptive critics became champions of new artistic movements. Beginning in the 20th and continuing into the 21st century, many critics used social and linguistic, rather than aesthetic, theoretical models. Prominent art critics include Roger Fry, Clive Bell, Clement Greenberg, Harold Rosenblum, Lawrence Alloway, Rosalind Krauss, and Donald Kuspit. See also aesthetics.

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      the analysis and evaluation of works of art. More subtly, art criticism is often tied to theory; it is interpretive, involving the effort to understand a particular work of art from a theoretical perspective and to establish its significance in the history of art.

      Many cultures have strong traditions of art evaluation. For example, African cultures have evaluative traditions—often verbal—of esteeming a work of art for its beauty, order, and form or for its utilitarian qualities and the role it plays in communal and spiritual activities. Islamic cultures have long traditions of historiographical writing about art. Works such as Mustafa Ali's Manāqib-i hunarvarān (1587; “Wonderful Deeds of the Artists”) often focus on the decorative traditions, such as calligraphy, woodwork, glassware, metalwork, and textiles, that define Islamic art. China also has a strong tradition of art evaluation, dating back to writers such as Xie He (active mid-6th century), who offered the “Six Principles” for great art—a major principle being the qi yun sheng dong (“spirit resonance, life-motion”)—and to literati, who wrote biographies of great artists. For these and other regional approaches to art evaluation and historiography, see art, African; arts, Central Asian (Central Asian arts); arts, East Asian; arts, Islamic (Islamic arts); arts, Native American (Native American art); art and architecture, Oceanic; arts, South Asian (South Asian arts); and arts, Southeast Asian (Southeast Asian arts).

      Like all these examples, the Western (arts, Western) tradition has a set of evaluative criteria—sometimes shared with other cultures, sometimes unique—as well as elements of historiography. Within the history of Western art writing, however, is a distinct critical tradition characterized by the use of theory; theoretical analyses of art in the West—made either to oppose or to defend contemporary approaches to art making—led to what is generally understood as the discipline of “art criticism.” Art criticism developed parallel to Western aesthetic (aesthetics) theory, beginning with antecedents in ancient Greece and fully taking form in the 18th and 19th centuries. This article explores this trajectory, also charting the divergent trend, beginning in the 20th and continuing into the 21st century, of the use of social and linguistic, rather than aesthetic, theoretical models by some critics. For the history of this tradition, see painting, Western, and sculpture, Western (Western sculpture). See also Sidebar: Art Appreciation.

      Critical approaches vary and depend upon the kind of art engaged—it makes a certain critical difference whether critics deal with painting, sculpture, photography, video, or other media. This article does not single out critics in terms of their engagement with a particular medium but rather presents the essentials of what appear to be coherent critical positions, often influential beyond the period of their formation. Architecture presents a unique set of issues that require a unique critical approach; for architectural criticism, see architecture.


The role of the critic
      The critic is “minimally required to be a connoisseur,” which means he must have a “sound knowledge” of the history of art, as Philip Weissman wrote in his essay "The Psychology of the Critic and Psychological Criticism" (1962), but “the step from connoisseur to critic implies the progression from knowledge to judgment.” The critic must make judgments because the art dealt with is generally new and unfamiliar—unless the critic is trying to reevaluate an old art with a fresh understanding of it—and thus of uncertain aesthetic and cultural value. The critic is often faced with a choice: to defend old standards, values, and hierarchies against new ones or to defend the new against the old. There are thus avant-garde critics, who become advocates of art that departs from and even subverts or destabilizes prevailing norms and conventions and becomes socially disruptive (one thinks, for example, of the furor caused by Caravaggio and Édouard Manet (Manet, Édouard)), as well as reactionary critics, who defend the old order of thinking and values and the socially established familiar art that goes along with them. Extreme innovators—artists whose work is radically different, even revolutionary—pose the greatest challenge to the critic. Such artists push the limits of the critic's understanding and appreciation or else force the critic to fall back on established assumptions in intellectual self-defeat. The greatest threat to art criticism is the development of defensive clichés—settled expectations and unquestioned presuppositions—about art, while the adventure of art criticism lies in the exposure to new possibilities of art and the exploration of new approaches that seem demanded by it.

      The critic thus has a certain power of determination over art history, or at least great influence in creating the canon of art, as is evident, for example, in the naming by critics of many modern movements and in the “basic understanding” of the ostensibly incomprehensible, unconventional artists who initiated them. The British critic Roger Fry (Fry, Roger), who created the name “ Post-Impressionism” and wrote brilliantly and convincingly about Paul Cézanne (Cézanne, Paul), is a classic example. Art criticism may also encompass historiography; while “art history” is often spoken of as an objective field, art historians' own preferences cannot always be separated from their judgments and choices of emphasis, and this makes many art-historical narratives a subtler form of art criticism.

      The French poet and critic Charles Baudelaire (Baudelaire, Charles) famously said, in his review of the Salon of 1846, that “to be just, that is to say, to justify its existence, criticism should be partisan, passionate, and political, that is to say, written from an exclusive point of view, but a point of view that opens up the widest horizons.” In this way, criticism is subjective as well as objective. It should be a matter of considered choice rather than arbitrary in its decisions of significance, but an emotional factor necessarily enters, as Baudelaire readily admitted. This can make criticism impressionistic or poetic as well as descriptive, analytic, and scholarly. Even the most journalistic criticism—and modern criticism is often a species of journalism—is rarely neutral and detached. The subjective affinities and cognitive interests of the critic and, however subliminally, a critic's perception of social needs inevitably affect the content of criticism. In the 20th and 21st centuries, theoretical bases such as Marxism and feminism have often entered art criticism more directly, making the critic's perceptions of social needs more directly applicable to evaluations of art. As the German theorist Hans Robert Jauss wrote, every work of art exists within a social and historical “horizon of expectation.” The aesthetic response elicited by the work often depends upon how much it does or does not conform to historically conditioned social expectations. Critical recognition and advocacy, as Jauss says, is a complicated response to an often complicated art. The history of art criticism is a narrative of the responses that made an aesthetic as well as social difference in the general perception and conception of art, often legitimating its change in direction.

Foundations of art criticism in antiquity and the Middle Ages
      Since antiquity, philosophers have been theorizing about art, as well as criticizing it. Plato, for example, regarded art as an inferior form of knowledge, indeed, no more than an illusion of knowledge. In the Republic he describes the painter as a “creator of appearances,” stating that “what he creates is untrue,” a “semblance of existence” rather than a “real existence.” A painting is at best “an indistinct expression of truth.” Plato distinguishes between the image of something, or the thing itself, and the true idea of the thing, which exists in the mind of God, as it were. According to this understanding, the painter deals with the image rather than the thing, let alone the idea of the thing. Thus, art is deception: “A painter will paint a cobbler, carpenter…though he knows nothing of their arts; and, if he is a good artist, he may deceive children or simple persons, when he shows them his picture of a carpenter from a distance, and they will fancy that they are looking at a real carpenter.” Plato writes that works of art are “but imitations thrice removed from the truth, and could easily be made without any knowledge of the truth, because they are appearances only and not realities.” Imitation—image-making—should not be “the ruling principle of [anyone's] life, as if he had nothing higher in him.” One might call this metaphysical criticism: art is at best a way of simplifying and communicating complex ideas—philosophical truths—to the ignorant, according to Plato, although from the point of view of absolute truth, the artist is also profoundly ignorant.

       Aristotle took a somewhat different approach to his theory of art, although he also regarded art as a form of imitation. In his Poetics, perhaps the most influential work on art ever written, he makes it clear that art is a moral issue, since it deals with human character. “The objects of imitation…represent men either as better than in real life, or as worse, or as they are.” He argues that imitation is a human instinct, and as such, works of imitative art, in whatever medium, move human beings deeply. Such works of art are evocative and cathartic; the viewer identifies and empathizes with the human beings and human situations depicted, feeling what they felt, and learning from their experience, which is an essentialized imitation of what all might experience. Thus, the viewer pities those who suffer in tragedy—the highest form of art, since the tragic hero is a higher type of human being—while being terrorized by their suffering and the situations which cause it, for they are potentially the viewer's own, in spirit if not in actuality. For Aristotle, art is a lesson in life and, as such, is of great social and broadly human value. He was the first psychologically minded critic, and his idea of the inseparability of art and morality—of art in the service of moral teaching—remained influential into the modern period.

      The ancient philosopher Plotinus saw art as more mystical than mundane. He was the founder of Roman Neoplatonism, and his thinking about art reflects that of Plato, with important, influential differences: Plotinus introduced the idea that art can be beautiful and that its worldly beauty is a reflection of a higher, spiritual beauty. According to Plotinus's Enneads, by intellectually contemplating beautiful art, we can gain insight into and even commune—mystically merge—with that higher beauty. Plotinus connects art directly with the higher realm of ideas from which Plato excluded it and characterizes that realm as spiritual as well as intellectual—that is, he emphasizes the spiritual aspiration involved in intellectual analysis and intuition. It is a view that was present, though latent, in Plato. For Plotinus, art was an enigmatic embodiment of pure spirit, which is why artistic beauty has something sacred and abstract about it.

      In a sense, all subsequent art criticism is an elaboration of these three philosophers' ideas, sometimes in combination: art can be seen as imitation, as psychological and moral, and as spiritual. Yet, while these thinkers established important, lasting ideas about the philosophy of art, they were not true art critics. Art criticism is necessarily less general than philosophical theorizing about art, however informed by theoretical generalizations it may be. In his seminal book History of Art Criticism (1936), Lionello Venturi asks: “What is criticism if not a relationship between a principle of judgment and the intuition of a work of art or of an artistic personality?” The principle of judgment can be informed by general ideas about art, but the intuition of a work of art or an artistic personality necessarily involves getting down to particulars. Thus, for Venturi, the Greek Xenocrates of Sicyon (Xenocrates) (3rd century BC) was the first art critic, for he “tried to fix a relationship between his own artistic principles, as categories of artistic judgment, and some concrete artistic personalities.” In other words, Xenocrates—a sculptor of the school of Lysippus—had a philosophy of art, which he brought to bear on the work of particular artists, evaluating them and finding the truth in their art by its measure.

      Xenocrates' approach continued into Roman times. The writers Lucian and Kallistratos declared: “A work of art requires an intelligent spectator who must go beyond the pleasure of the eyes to express a judgment and to argue the reasons for what he sees.” Again: “A connoisseur is one of those men who, with a delicate artistic sense, know how to discover in works of art the various qualities they contain, and mix reasoning with such an appreciation.” Thus, the ancient viewpoint regards the critic as a connoisseur—a person who knows and values art, which requires reason as well as sensibility. Indeed, according to the philosopher Quintilian, the true connoisseur—the really expert judge of art—is able, in Venturi's words, to “understand the reason of art, while the unlearned feel only the voluptuousness.”

      Theorizing about art continued during the Middle Ages (painting, Western) under a Christian banner. Although there was a certain awareness of the material character of medieval art, philosophers made no serious effort to synthesize the material with the theoretical, nor did they illustrate their theories by discussing particular artists. In general, medieval thinkers were concerned with art's symbolic meaning, evident in moral and religious iconography. Also, like Plato, they distinguished between the judgment of the senses and the judgment of reason, the latter being superior because it is based on laws of beauty given by God. St. Augustine (Augustine, Saint) used his Christian faith as a theoretical tool. In De natura boni, among other writings, he elaborates the ideas of Plotinus, emphasizing the transcendence or sublimity of absolute beauty, of which the beauty of the work of art is a reflection (albeit a pale one). He discusses the formal character of pictures, often in terms that indicate his religious concerns: thus, black is ugly, but if used the right way it is beautiful, just as the universe is beautiful, even though it contains sinners, who are ugly. In Summa theologiae (c. 1265/66–73), St. Thomas Aquinas (Aquinas, Thomas, Saint), also using Christianity as his theoretical model, distinguishes between the higher senses—sight and hearing—which are a means to organized knowledge, and the lower senses—touch, smell, and taste—which are not. But St. Thomas moves beyond the usual tenets of Christian theory when he suggests that beauty is admirable because it stimulates theoretical thinking and pleasurable because it satisfies desire—a very modern idea.

Renaissance art criticism
      Despite such theorizing, no definite critical tradition emerged until the Renaissance (painting, Western), when art criticism came into its own—that is, when detailed analysis and deliberate evaluation of artists began. Giovanni, Matteo, and Filippo Villani's Cronica (1308–64; “Chronicles”) was the first important evaluation of this kind. In Filippo Villani's portion (1364) of the family's ongoing work, he celebrates his native city, Florence, as the climax of civilization. Villani discusses the lives of famous men, including some artists. His writing set an important precedent: the idea that painting is among the liberal arts and not the applied arts—an idea already present in Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79) and one that had great influence on the humanist conception of Italian Renaissance art. Villani went even further, elevating painters over other practitioners of the liberal arts, which set the stage for more analytic, in-depth considerations of art.

      Indeed, treatises on art flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries. Lorenzo Ghiberti (Ghiberti, Lorenzo)'s I Commentarii (c. 1447; “Commentaries”) includes a discussion of lives of artists (painters and two sculptors, himself included), and also traces the trajectory of artistic progress, which for Ghiberti begins with the proto-Renaissance artist Giotto (Giotto di Bondone), who returned to ancient models of art. Ghiberti also summarizes the ideas of various ancient writers on art. Other important art treatises were written by Cennino Cennini (Cennini, Cennino) (in 1437), Leon Battista Alberti (Alberti, Leon Battista) (in 1435), Leonardo da Vinci (throughout his notebooks), and Albrecht Dürer (Dürer, Albrecht) (in 1528; heavily influenced by Italian ideas). In his treatise, Alberti was the first critic to recognize that a renaissance of art had occurred in Florence and the first to state the humanistic principles and artistic ideals that motivated it—namely, perspectival space and the perfect rendering of the plasticity of human form.

      Yet Giorgio Vasari (Vasari, Giorgio)'s Le vite de' più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori italiani… (1550, 2nd ed., 1568; “The Lives of the Most Eminent Italian Architects, Painters, and Sculptors…”) is the seminal work of the period. It was not until Vasari that a full-fledged developmental history of art and artists appeared; the Lives is what might be called a critical history of Italian Renaissance art, for Vasari not only documents Renaissance art's development but also establishes criteria of artistic value and a hierarchy of artists on its basis. For Vasari, himself an architect and painter, his native Tuscany was the epicentre of the Italian Renaissance. He carefully differentiates between artistic styles, developing a theory of artistic progress (the imperfect 14th century, the improved 15th century, and the perfect 16th century—that is, the bronze, silver, and golden ages of art). He collected more data (and hearsay) about artists' lives than anyone had ever done before and established the lives of artists as an autonomous genre. In the Lives, Vasari elevates Michelangelo—the only living artist he mentions—as the grand climax of the Italian Renaissance. He presents Michelangelo as the embodiment of his vision of the unique artistic personality or rare genius; this effort to ground empirically the artist's superiority to other mortals is perhaps Vasari's greatest achievement. His views have become gospel in the popular and critical understanding of the period, indicating the enduring influence of art criticism on the reading of history.

Art criticism in the 17th century: Programmatic theory
      Theoretical criticism—criticism that attempts to establish an artistic program on a rational basis and that also regards art as the exemplification and embodiment of ideas (and as such theoretical)—came into its own in the 17th century with André Félibien's 10-volume Entretiens sur les vies et sur les ouvrages des plus excellens peintres anciens et modernes (1666–88; “Conversations on the Most Excellent Painters, Ancient and Modern”). Like Vasari, Félibien presents what he regards as the proper principles of art, as well as an account of the lives of the artists. But where, for Vasari, Michelangelo was the consummate artist, for Félibien, Nicolas Poussin (Poussin, Nicolas) was the master to emulate. Félibien's book in fact draws directly on Poussin's ideas: Poussin advocated, in his own words, the “grand manner” of Classicism, whose “first requirement…is that the subject and the narrative be grandiose, such as battles, heroic actions, and religious themes.” Poussin ruled out “base subjects”—genre (scenes of daily life), for example—along with “base” details, believing that a painting as a whole should have a distinctive style or manner and be tasteful. In practice this meant that a painting should show “a certain restraint and moderation.” For Poussin this restraint was most evident in “the Dorian mode,” or the measure of ancient art, which was “stable, grave, and severe.” Poussin in fact developed his theory from his studies of ancient sculpture and the paintings of artists Domenichino and Raphael.

      If Poussin's ideas were canonized by Félibien, they became gospel in the French Academy in Rome (founded in 1665) under Charles Le Brun (Le Brun, Charles), its director (some would say dictator). Le Brun turned Poussin's ideas into academic rules that influenced a generation of art students and critics. The Academy taught that Classical art, not nature, was the model for artists. This Classicism was reduced to tasteful authority and empty rhetoric in the artistic output of the Academy members, however, who often made dogmatic and prescriptive what Poussin had meant to be a rational and disciplined approach.

      At the same time, there was a certain rebellion against this rigidity, perhaps in recognition of the fact that the rule of theory inhibited creativity and especially because it had become authoritarian. In Paralelle des anciens et des modernes (1688–97; “Parallels Between the Ancients and the Moderns”), the French critic Charles Perrault (Perrault, Charles) argues for the superiority of 16th-century Italian painters over ancient artists and of contemporary (17th-century) painting over 16th-century painting. This idea that there was artistic progress challenged Poussin's sense of indebtedness to ancient art. Art historian Giovanni Pietro Bellori similarly challenged Le Brun's elevation of Classicism. In Le vite de' pittori, scultori, et architetti moderni (1672; “The Lives of Modern Painters, Sculptors, and Architects”), he celebrates the rationality and Classicism of Raphael's art, but he also argues that the irrationality and anti-Classicism of turn-of-the-17th-century painter Caravaggio was a valid alternative. Similarly, while he exalts the sobriety of Poussin, Bellori recognizes that 17th-century painter Peter Paul Rubens (Rubens, Peter Paul)'s liveliness was its antithesis. In other words, he saw that there were two kinds of art (and artists), not readily reconcilable with one another. (Dare one call them depressive and manic?)

      This polarization of artistic theory—the recognition that there are two fundamentally different modes of art, whichever the critic prefers and theoretically justifies—recalls the ancient distinction between an art that is more rational than sensuous and an art that is more pleasing to the senses than to reason. It is in effect a distinction between painting that adheres to the rules of reason—evident in proportion and perspective and reinforced by linear clarity, that is, pure drawing—and painting that indulges in artistic license, which in practice means that it is colourful and painterly and thus erotically stimulating. The latter kind of “irrational” painting is no longer strictly illusionistic but rather on the way to becoming abstract—indeed, abstract expressionist. The debate, which can clearly be understood as moral and psychological as well as aesthetic, appears in Fréart de Cambray's treatise in 1662 against wanton painting, by which he meant painting that exhibits exciting colour but that lacks geometry. In contrast, the Venetian Marco Boschini, in La carta del navegar pitoresco (1660; “Map of the Picturesque Journey”) and Le ricche minere della pittura veneziana (1674; “Rich Mines of Venetian Painting”), celebrates the vitality of 16th-century Venetian painting, especially the work of Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese (Veronese, Paolo). He admires the Venetians' use of colour, which seems to have an uninhibited life of its own, overflowing the linear limits of the object to pervade the entire painting, giving it an all-over sensuality and atmospheric lushness. (In its time, this Venetian work was opposed to the more rigid painting coming out of Florence, an early incarnation of the Poussin/Rubens debate.) In his writings, Boschini regards the 17th-century painters Rubens and Diego Velázquez (Velázquez, Diego) as important masters because their style derived from the more radical tradition of Venetian painting.

 These two approaches inspired the development of two camps in the Academy: the Poussinists (Poussinist) and the Rubenists (Rubenist). The debate between the two approaches came to a head when critic Roger de Piles published a series of theoretical pamphlets setting forth an argument for the Rubenists in 1676. De Piles's writings helped break the hold of the Poussinists in the French Academy by legitimating an alternative to it, giving the Rubenists credibility—especially when he was elected to the Academy in 1699. In his Abrégé de la vie des peintres, avec des reflexions sur leurs ouvrages, et un traité du peintre parfait (1699; “Abridgement of the Lives of Painters…”), de Piles argues that while there is art that seems to break the laws, it establishes a new law if it is the product of genius—in other words, a genius is above rules. He also distinguishes between the mind's considered taste and the body's spontaneous taste, the former involving fixed, preconceived ideas about what art should be, and the latter allowing for unexpected intuitions about art. This distinction between procrustean and independent judgment reflects the distinction between an official (academic) Poussinist and an independent (nonacademic) Rubenist. Importantly, this distinction also established the idea that the critic's feelings, however inexplicable, have as much a place in his judgment as his reason, setting the stage for a new generation of thinkers.

Art criticism in the 18th century: Enlightenment theory
      At the beginning of the 18th century, the Englishman Jonathan Richardson became the first person to develop a system of art criticism. In An Essay on the Whole Art of Criticism as It Relates to Painting and An Argument in Behalf of the Science of a Connoisseur (both 1719), he develops a practical system of critical evaluation that reminds one of Jeremy Bentham (Bentham, Jeremy)'s utilitarian calculus. Establishing a hierarchy of values from 1 to 20—“sublimity” being the peak of artistic perfection—that anyone could learn to use, he suggests that criticism is merely a matter of ratings.

      In the mid-18th century, Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten (Baumgarten, Alexander Gottlieb) created the discipline of aesthetics, giving it a place as a separate philosophical study, and in so doing, afforded new criteria for critical judgment. In his most important work, Aesthetica (1750–58), he sets forth the difference between a moral and exclusively aesthetic understanding of art, a way of thinking that can be regarded as the major difference between a traditional and modern approach to art making and art criticism. Later in the century, Immanuel Kant (Kant, Immanuel)'s Critik der Urteilskraft (1790; “Critique of Judgment”) introduced the ideas of a disinterested judgment of taste, the purposiveness of artistic form, and the difference between the beautiful and sublime. These ideas remain influential to the present day, especially in the formalist criticism that would dominate the mid-20th century.

      Parallel with these developments, art history also came into its own in the mid-18th century in the person of the German historian-critic Johann Winckelmann (Winckelmann, Johann), who took full advantage of the new formal parameters allowed by aesthetics. Generally regarded as the first systematic art historian, he was by training an archaeologist with a deep knowledge of antiquity. In works such as Gedancken über die Nachahmung der griechischen wercke in der Mahlerey und Bildhauer-Kunst (1765; “Reflections on the Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks”) and Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums (1764; “The History of Ancient Art”), Winckelmann idealized Greek art for its “noble simplicity and quiet grandeur,” and in the process he helped bring about the rise of Neoclassicism in the arts. More important for art history and art criticism, he established a model for art-historical development based on these ancient foundations. He espoused the idea of a period style, whereby a visual idea slowly but surely unfolded in an organic sequence of artistic events, growing from a primitive seed to a sturdy plant, which flowered and then decayed. More particularly, an initial “antique” (or archaic) style matured into a sublime style, whose gains were consolidated and refined into a beautiful style, which eventually collapsed into a decadent, anticlimactic, academic style of imitation. Winckelmann thought this pattern repeated in antiquity and in modern painting. Whether or not Winckelmann forced the parallel throughout history is beside the point; his idea of a discernible formal trajectory took hold.

      But, just as some critics in the 17th century sought to expose the lawless alternatives to standing artistic models, Richardson's and Winckelmann's enlightened efforts to put art criticism on an objective basis were opposed by another Enlightenment figure, the great French encyclopaedist, author, and wit Denis Diderot (Diderot, Denis). Aware of the increasingly “romantic,” unruly, informal—seemingly methodless—character of art, Diderot was concerned with its moral message (as his comments noting “the depravation of morals” in François Boucher's painting reveal). He perceived that art seemed to have fewer and fewer clear—let alone absolute and rational—rules, which implied that it could be evaluated in a more personal, even irrational, altogether idiosyncratic way. The looser the rules, the more relative the standards by which art could be judged. He saw that the new freedom of art allowed for a new freedom of criticism. In a sense, unconventional art needed an unconventional criticism to give it a raison d'être.

      Diderot reviewed Salons (Salon) from 1759 to 1781. He wrote a book-length examination of the Salon of 1767, in which he not only assesses contemporary art but attempts to clarify its principles; building upon de Piles's merging of emotion and intellect, he shows that philosophical evaluation and empirical documentation are inseparable in art criticism. The pages Diderot devotes to seven landscape paintings by Horace Vernet (Vernet, Horace) are particularly exemplary of his approach. Diderot describes Vernet's landscapes with great precision, as though he were walking through them; the peripatetic response to the topical is basic to art criticism, which deals with new art whose value has not yet been clearly established. In addition to inspiring such a literal mode of interpretation, these landscapes also stimulated Diderot's intellect and evoked a certain mood. Diderot praises Vernet because his landscapes appealed to his mind as well as his emotions—because spontaneous attunement to them led to reflection. This double demand—that the critic be responsive to the spirit of a work of art so that he is able to find the truth in it or, to put this another way, that he appreciate it in its immediacy so that he can find the meanings it mediates—has been the credentials of the critic ever since. The critic must have feelings as well as knowledge, so that, like Diderot at his best, his criticism fuses “colorful description and arresting philosophical observations,” as the American scholar Jean Eldred writes.

      In the 18th century it also became apparent that, if successful, criticism just might elevate a subjective preference into a canonical art. Artists have always been threatened by destructive criticism—major 18th-century artists, such as Boucher, Quentin de la Tour, and Jean-Baptiste Greuze (Greuze, Jean-Baptiste), did not exhibit in 1767 out of fear of it. But constructive criticism, showing how emotionally rich and intellectually meaningful his art was, could give an artist immortality. Thus, if the critic could make a convincing case for an art, on whatever “theoretical” ground, as Diderot did for Vernet, then it gained a certain significance that, however eccentric, gave it credibility, even fame, at least for a short time.

Art criticism in the 19th century

The growth of power and influence
      Art criticism grew exponentially in the 19th century, when artists began to make works with an uncertain future. Rather than working for the church or state, whose commissions demanded ideological and often stylistic conformity, artists had become freelance and seemingly free-spirited producers for a market that was not always there. Of course, the state still sponsored exhibitions—the annual Salon of the French government was the model (inaugurated in 1667, when Louis XIV sponsored an exhibition of works by the members of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in the Salon d'Apollon in the Louvre Palace). Salon standards were bound by tradition until the mid-19th century, when they began to relax under the pressure of new theories of art, developed in response to new kinds of art, which rebelled against traditional models.

      The new artistic liberty was undoubtedly influenced by the republican revolutions that broke out in 1848 against the monarchies of the Austrian Empire, France, Germany, Italy, and Sicily—that is, against the ancien régime. Every one of the revolts was repressed, but the liberal spirit that inspired them lived on in art, displaced from its original purpose. (This spirit no doubt was also encouraged by a general atmosphere of social and cultural change, evident in the Industrial Revolution and in the growth of museums and libraries that was correlative with the growth of literacy.) Before 1848, sketches could be submitted to the Salon jury, but only the finished work could be exhibited; afterward, paintings were exhibited that seemed closer to sketches than finished pictures. After 1850 the traditional standards in the category of heroic landscape were ignored—in effect suspended as obsolete—so that the naturalistic landscape paintings of Théodore Rousseau (Rousseau, Théodore) could finally be exhibited. Similarly, subjects from everyday life, composed and painted in a less-finished manner, were allowed in what had hitherto been the academically rigid category of “genre.”

      Change was clearly in the air and with it liberalization—a new democratization of art, with a new abundance and diversity that had to be sorted out. Criticism began as a journalistic effort to do so, with reviews (often by literati) appearing in such belles lettres magazines as the Examiner, Athenaeum, Art Journal, Revue des deux mondes, L'Artiste, Gazette des beaux-arts, Grenzboten, Das Deutsche Kunstblatt, Die Dioskuren, and Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst. These magazines were consulted by both the bourgeois buying public and the art cognoscenti. Criticism in these journals often became a theoretical effort to justify critical choices—that is, to rationalize what was often an intuitive appreciation of certain artists. In other words, the determination of value, on whatever theoretical basis, entered into the reporting of information, often for those who had little or no chance to see the art in question, thereby legislating opinion into art history. As the French poet and art critic Paul Valéry (Valéry, Paul) wrote, “There is never a formless object, a colourist's folly, a freak of distortion that cannot be imposed on public attention, even to the point of admiration, by means of description and analysis, and by taking advantage of the fact (20 times proved in the 19th century) that the reactions of opinion can raise to the rank of a masterpiece a work which on its first appearance was misunderstood or ridiculed, thus multiplying its original market value by a thousand.” As the French poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire (Baudelaire, Charles) had earlier exclaimed in his essay "The Salon of 1846" : “How many artists today owe to the critics alone their sad little fame!”

      Whatever the ironies of advocacy, some critics chose to take up the cause of individual artists who embodied certain artistic preferences or principles. The cause of painter J.M.W. Turner (Turner, J.M.W.) was taken up by John Ruskin (Ruskin, John), a brilliant, eccentric, often disturbed figure, who was himself an artist. Ruskin defended Turner's landscapes—which had been ridiculed by critics who found them too technically daring—with youthful exuberance in Modern Painters (vol. 1, 1843), on the grounds of their empirical accuracy. He would use the same defense in his support of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The Pre-Raphaelites had received harsh criticism from critics such as the novelist Charles Dickens (Dickens, Charles), who in 1850 wrote with disdain of their disregard for academic ideals in their highly realistic paintings. In 1851 Ruskin took on the role of public defender for the group, publishing a pamphlet and writing twice to The Times of London in the Pre-Raphaelites' defense. The public was clearly aware of developments in art, as such newspaper letters indicate.

      Other critics supported more a stance than a particular artist, continuing the Poussin-Rubens debate of the 17th century. The tension between the academics and the independents was epitomized in the dispute between those who supported the cool idealizing Classicism of J.-A.-D. Ingres (Ingres, J.-A.-D), whom French critic Jules-Antoine Castagnary singled out as the one “great portraitist” of the 19th century, and those who supported Eugène Delacroix (Delacroix, Eugène)'s romanticism, colour, robustness, and imagination, as Baudelaire called them in admiration. Ingres, a student of Jacques-Louis David (David, Jacques-Louis), was a master of drawing who, like Poussin, turned to Raphael as a model of harmony and construction, while Delacroix extended the Baroque concern with colour that was evident in Rubens and the Venetians. Ingres was “the last of the great French Classicist painters,” as the Austrian art historian Fritz Novotny wrote, while Delacroix inspired young innovative painters such as Paul Cézanne. At mid-century, apart from Baudelaire, who advocated the most romantic possibilities of painting, the most prominent critics tended to think in terms of stark oppositions and distinctions—often beauty and ugliness—and thus often failed to achieve an adequate dialectical criticism. Thus, for example, French critic Étienne-Jean Delécluze was a supporter of the “Homerists,” followers of Ingres's style, and deplored the “école du laid” (“school of ugliness”) of the “Shakespeareans,” who emulated Delacroix. But this debate would become moot with the development of the avant-garde.

The avant-garde problem
      Painter Gustave Courbet (Courbet, Gustave)'s rebellious realism was the case par excellence of new avant-gardism that threw off the centuries-old debate between Classicism and radicalism. In 1855 two of his paintings—the now famous Burial at Ornans (1849) and The Artist's Studio (1855)—were rejected by the jury of the International Exhibition in Paris. Courbet responded by defiantly building his own exhibition space, where he displayed 43 works, declaring their style “Le Réalisme,” as though in opposition to the idealism of officially sanctioned art. His social realism was certainly evident in the rejected works, which from the government's point of view rebelliously showed too much empathy for the people, especially because manual labourers were presented as heroic personages. In 1845 the Fourierist Gabriel-Désiré Laverdant declared that “the artist [who] is truly of the avant-garde” must be socially aware—“must know where humanity is going.” Courbet, who was a social activist, clearly seemed to know.

      Yet the critics of the day were often not ready to keep up with, let alone accept, such avant-garde theories of art's purpose, subject matter, and style. Courbet became the “critical” artist at mid-century, and the critic's position was largely defined by his stand, pro or con, on Courbet's revolutionary “ugliness,” or brutal Realism. The journals of Edmond and Jules Goncourt (Goncourt, Edmond and Jules) are an indispensable record of the events of the day, but the brothers omitted any mention of Courbet's paintings in their first Salon review, because his Realism—“matter glorified”—offended them. Similarly, critic Clément de Ris refused to discuss Courbet's hugely influential Burial at Ornans, dismissing his “pursuit of ugliness.” Castagnary and Théophile Thoré (also known by pen name William Bürger) had a more ecumenical approach, embracing many kinds of art, although Thoré, a friend of Théodore Rousseau, seemed to prefer landscape paintings, finding in them a “mystical beauty” unsullied by materialism. The alternative critic to these was Théophile Gautier (Gautier, Théophile), whose fluid writing style and indiscriminate enthusiasm for art made him one of the most popular critics of the day. But he, too, described Courbet as a “mannerist of ugliness.” On the other hand, critic Pierre Petroz thought that Courbet's paintings “mark new progress toward complete sincerity in art,” and Courbet's great defender Champfleury praised his Realism as “serious and convinced, ironic and brutal, sincere and full of poetry” and found the Burial at Ornans to be “true and simple.”

      Despite the general critical disdain and controversy aroused by Courbet, other artists were inspired by his model and began to form their own alternative salons. The jury for the official Salon of 1863 rejected Édouard Manet (Manet, Édouard)'s Déjeuner sur l'herbe (“Luncheon on the Grass”) and two other paintings by him, along with the work of up to 4,000 other artists. To appease this discontented crowd, the government offered exhibition space in the Palais des Champs-Élysées, the so-called Salon des Refusés. Napoleon III found little difference between the rejected and selected works, but, as the American art historian Robert Rosenblum writes, the Salon des Refusés was regarded as a “counterestablishment manifestation, where artists at war with authority could be seen.” Manet, who is for many the first truly modern painter, seemed to epitomize this antiauthoritarian, counterestablishment attitude, by reason of his harsh Realism, for example, in the notorious, sexually suggestive Olympia (1863), as well as in the apparent Impressionism of such works as Chez Pére Lathuille (1879) and White Lilac in a Glass (1880). At the time of the second World's Fair in Paris in 1867, following Courbet's 1855 example, Manet exhibited about 50 paintings in his own pavilion, declaring in the catalog that he “only wanted to render his own impression.” But Manet also suffered from a mixed reception—even from such friends as Baudelaire, who called him “the best of a bad lot.”

      Like Courbet and Manet before them, the Impressionist (Impressionism) artists advocated radical new theories of painting, taking on the role of critical advocacy at a time when contemporary critics were often not supportive of avant-garde developments. In 1874 they organized the “Société Anonyme des artistes, peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc.,” an alternative to the Salon, and in 1874 the society had its first exhibition. As Rosenblum writes, the artists involved wanted “a place where many kinds of fresh and audacious painting could be shown to the public, works made not by artists who had been voted out of the Salon establishment, but by artists who wished to turn their backs on it entirely.” Claude Monet showed five paintings, one called Impression, Sunrise (1872), which inspired French critic Louis Leroy to give the Impressionist movement its name. In a sense, Impressionism carried sketchiness to a “sensational” extreme, suggesting that the most daring artists had unconditionally surrendered to the liberal spirit of the 1848 revolutions, in effect legitimating them aesthetically. The spirit of the Société Anonyme was invigorated by the formation of the Société des Artistes Indépendants in 1884, which displayed works by such innovative artists as Georges Seurat, Paul Signac (Signac, Paul), and Odilon Redon (Redon, Odilon).

      Just as the work of Courbet and Manet was too radical for most critics, the art of the Impressionists also received mixed reviews. Indeed, Leroy meant the name he gave the movement as a term of contempt. But Castagnary realized that Impressionism extended Courbet's Realism into new territory; he recognized that the lack of finish on Impressionist paintings had to do with the attempt to render the “sensation” produced by a landscape rather than the landscape, thus pinpointing what has come to be understood as one of the basic concerns of Modernist painting.

      The Post-Impressionist (Post-Impressionism) painters Paul Gauguin (Gauguin, Paul) and Vincent van Gogh (Gogh, Vincent van)—who built upon the colour and brushstroke developments of the Impressionists—had better critical luck, largely in the person of the great French critic Albert Aurier. He wrote the first article ever on van Gogh (1890)—a very positive and perceptive interpretation. In a still telling, definitive essay on Gauguin (1891), Aurier supported the artist's Symbolism, primitivism, and “emotivity.” In a similar appreciative spirit, the French critic André Fontainas praised Gauguin for “his complete sincerity,” “surging emotions,” and the very modern “violent oppositions” of his colours. In an 1895 letter to Gauguin, the Swedish writer August Strindberg (Strindberg, August) called him a “savage, who hates a whimpering civilization,” and wants to “create a new world”: Gauguin used the letter as the preface in an exhibition catalog. All of this suggests that critics, at last, were not only receptive to avant-garde art but eager to embrace it for its authenticity. In "Essay on a New Method of Criticism" (1890–93), Aurier decreed that viewers must become “mystics” of the new art, for it was the “last plank of salvation.” Thus, the religion of avant-garde art was born. It remains influential to the present day—in a radical twist, it would soon become sacrilege for a critic to criticize avant-garde art, just as it was once sacrilege for avant-garde artists to criticize tradition with their art.

Art criticism in the 20th century

Critical response to early avant-garde art
      In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many critics continued to grapple with the newness of the generation of artists inspired by Impressionism. The work of Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne (Cézanne, Paul) made the avant-garde problem become even more explicit to critics, as the British critic Roger Fry (Fry, Roger)'s eloquent analysis and defense, in Cézanne: A Study of His Development (1927), of his painting made clear. Fry, who gave Post-Impressionism its name, regarded Cézanne as the founder of a new Modernist aesthetic—a new formalism, in which, as he wrote in Vision and Design (1920), “plasticity has become all-important” and in which “all is reduced to the purest terms of structural design.” (It should be noted that Fry organized the first extensive exhibition of Post-Impressionist art in England, making it clear that curatorial courage can be critically decisive. Writing is clearly not the only means open to an art critic.) Another early advocate of Modernism, the German critic Julius Meier-Graefe, described Cézanne's paintings, in Entwickelungsgeschichte der modernen kunst (1904; Modern Art: Being a Contribution to a New System of Aesthetics), as “mosaic-pictures…amazing in their vigorous contrasts of colour,” which “may be compared to a kind of kaleidoscope,” and noted that “the effects he produces are primitive.” Fry made the same point, noting in Vision and Design that Cézanne's new kind of painting “reduced the artistic vision to a continuous patchwork or mosaic of coloured patches without architectural framework or structural coherence,” which nonetheless conveyed “the totality of appearance.” Both Fry and his fellow Bloomsbury figure Clive Bell (Bell, Clive) came to the conclusion that it was abstract, formal elements that counted most—that alone were essential—so that a painting no longer had to represent an object or figure. Bell famously dismissed representational content as incidental anecdote, irrelevant to visual experience.

      This increasing acceptance of abstraction set the stage for the critical shake-up caused by Pablo Picasso (Picasso, Pablo), who was the revolutionary, “critical” artist of the early 20th century. Gauguin had already used Polynesian figures and myths, but the (ironic) idea of the primitive “look” as an advanced look—a radical new departure, which was in fact an extension of 19th-century interest in the exotic or foreign—took off with Picasso's use of African masks in the proto-Cubist masterpiece Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907). In this work the Cubist (Cubism) reduction of human form to “primitive” geometry was already apparent, as the flattening of the figures—inspired by the flat masks—indicates. So-called primitive art (or the art of non-Western, nonindustrial, and often tribal, cultures such as those of Africa) was appreciated by critics for its seemingly pure plasticity; this seemed novel to European artists and critics eager to break with tradition and make a new art for a new century and led to the recognition of modern primitive or “outsider” art, as it has been called. In Five Primitive Masters (1949), the German critic Wilhelm Uhde in fact acclaimed primitive art's “air of unsophisticated artlessness and clumsiness,” which supposedly expressed “an elevated or ecstatic state of mind.” As Fry wrote in Vision and Design, once the viewer gets beyond the issue of “a certain standard of skill,” “a great deal of barbaric and primitive art” becomes aesthetically meaningful, and with that, deeply moving, for aesthetics involves not only the “heightened power of perception” but the “expression of emotions regarded as ends in themselves.”

      In 1908, in his essay "The Three Plastic Virtues," poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire (Apollinaire, Guillaume) argued that “the three plastic virtues, [of] purity, unity, and truth” had “triumphantly vanquished over nature” in Cubism. His assertion was the final stamp of approval on what might be called abstract primitivism in art and on the new School of Paris led by Picasso. Pure plasticity—the aesthetic “truth,” as it were—was expressed, if in different formal terms from those of Cubism, in the abstract expressionism of Wassily Kandinsky (Kandinsky, Wassily), the leader of Der Blaue Reiter (Blaue Reiter, Der) (“The Blue Rider”) artists in Munich, Germany, in Kazimir Malevich (Malevich, Kazimir)'s Suprematism, in Russian Constructivism, and in the geometric abstraction of Piet Mondrian (Mondrian, Piet) and Theo van Doesburg (Doesburg, Theo van) of the Dutch De Stijl (Stijl, De) group. After this, the concern with “primitive,” pure plasticity—colour, surface (texture), line, rhythm, shape, and mass and the seemingly accidental yet unexpectedly harmonious relationship between these “formal facts” of the medium, as Clement Greenberg would one day call them—became the hallmark of Modernist, or formalist, criticism, which would dominate and guide the direction of much art in the 20th century.

The new conceptual orientation
      Throughout the 20th century, another school of thought developed alongside these critics' interest in pure form. The early 20th-century manifestos—in effect, critical statements—of the Constructivist (Constructivism) (1920) and De Stijl (1919) movements on the one hand and Dadaism (Dada) (1919) and Surrealism (1924) on the other grounded art on conceptual rather than formal concerns. The Russian Constructivists were explicitly antiaesthetic and advocated the idea of the “artist-engineer.” The Dadaists and Surrealists were also ostensibly indifferent to formal stylistic concerns—the former advocated “antiart,” making the production of art an ironical matter (it could be “found” anywhere, depending on the artist's “choice” of object), while the latter, heavily influenced by Freudian (Freud, Sigmund) psychoanalysis, regarded art as an expression of the unconscious and made deliberately absurd works that were like manufactured dreams.

      Although they professed conceptual aims, these movements in fact helped broaden expression. Constructivism and De Stijl (Stijl, De) developed and refined the rational, geometric style that became de rigueur in modern International Style architecture by such architects as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, while Dadaism's and Surrealism's use of automatist spontaneity, chance, and accident influenced the formal experiments of a generation of artists, particularly those of the Abstract Expressionists. Despite the conceptual nature of their critical statements, therefore, these movements resisted being easily categorized as purely formal or conceptual. The dual paths these movements embodied—art oriented toward formal innovation and expression versus art oriented toward conceptual aims—would remain central to the major approaches to critical practice and art making throughout the 20th century.

Avant-garde art comes to America
      As the century progressed, art criticism grew in part because of the explosive growth of avant-garde art but also because the new art became newsworthy enough to be covered by the media, especially when big money invested in it. The New York Armory Show of 1913 made a big public splash—President Theodore Roosevelt visited it and remarked that he preferred the Navajo rugs he collected (he was ahead of his time) to the abstract art on display. Reaction to the work was generally mixed. Peyton Boswell, writing in the New York Herald, described Marcel Duchamp (Duchamp, Marcel)'s controversial painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 as a “cyclone in a shingle factory.” Yet the millionaire Walter Arensberg supported Duchamp, a gesture that was a harbinger of the coziness that would develop between art and money, fueled in part by the possibilities of speculation in the unregulated art market. Major private collections of avant-garde art emerged—perhaps most noteworthily that of Albert C. Barnes (Barnes, Albert C.)—further legitimating it.

 The founding of the Museum of Modern Art (Modern Art, Museum of) in New York City in 1929 under the auspices of the Rockefeller family was the consummate sign of the social and economic success of avant-garde art. Under the leadership of Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the museum mounted a series of now classic breakthrough exhibitions, although Cubism was singled out as the particularly seminal movement. The point was clearly made in Barr's diagram of the development of avant-garde art through 1935: “Cubism,” in the largest letters, has pride of place. According to the diagram, Cubism derives from Cézanne, Neo-Impressionism, and Henri Rousseau (Rousseau, Henri) and leads directly to Suprematism, Constructivism, and De Stijl, finally leading to abstract art. This became the orthodox formal high line. German Expressionism, Dadaism, and Surrealism are shunted to the side, falsifying their influence and significance. Today Barr's diagram looks academic and prejudiced, showing the limitations of a one-dimensional reading of avant-garde art privileging the formal. Again, the power of an institution to dictate and legislate art history is clear: Barr was in effect a modern Le Brun, and the Museum of Modern Art became the avant-garde academy, seeming to have more authority than the art itself.

      The formal abstraction initiated by Picasso and the Cubists reached its extreme in the emergence of the avant-garde American art, Abstract Expressionism, in the 1940s. The New York Times (New York Times, The) and Time magazine began to cover art events, often in controversial depth, as the critical reporting of Edward Alden Jewell and John Canaday in the Times indicated—the former was “befuddled” by Abstract Expressionism, the latter skeptical of it. Abstract artists themselves became critics in an attempt to clarify and justify their work. A decisive moment occurred in 1943, when Adolph Gottlieb (Gottlieb, Adolph) and Mark Rothko (Rothko, Mark) wrote a “Statement” in the Times in response to Jewell's “nonplused” response to their “ ‘obscure' paintings.” As they said, “The artist's complaint that he is misunderstood, especially by the critic, has become a noisy commonplace,” so that the artist has to become his own critic. Another important event would occur in 1961, when Canaday's “insulting” views on contemporary art—he regarded the Abstract Expressionists as fakes—were attacked in a letter signed by a number of artists and cognoscenti who defended it. The issue of this exchange is not whether Canaday was right or wrong but rather the seriousness with which his views were taken, indicating that criticism had become an indispensable part of the art scene and as controversial as the art with which it dealt.

Clement Greenberg
      However, just as the newness of Cubism was accepted and then canonized by Barr and the Museum of Modern Art, so the revolutionary abstraction of Abstract Expressionism was quickly codified and accepted—and elevated above Picasso and the School of Paris—through the efforts of the American critic Clement Greenberg. (Just as the baton of avant-garde art passed from Europe to the United States after World War II, so the most important critics were now American rather than European.) No figure so dominated the art criticism scene at mid-century as Greenberg, who was the standard-bearer of formalism in the United States and who developed the most sophisticated rationalization of it since Roger Fry and Clive Bell. With a connoisseur's acumen, Greenberg developed Bell's famous statement that “significant form” was the most important quality in art and that, as Bell wrote, “the literary and anecdotal content of a work of visual art, however charming and lively it might be, was mere surplusage.” In the 1940s and '50s, he defended such abstract artists as Jackson Pollock (Pollock, Jackson), David Smith, Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman (Newman, Barnett), Mark Rothko, Morris Louis, and Jules Olitski (Olitski, Jules) at a time when abstract art, indeed, avant-garde in general, was struggling for popular acceptance in the United States. In the essays collected in Art and Culture (1961), Greenberg argued that what mattered most in a work was its articulation of the medium, more particularly, its finessing of the terms of the material medium, and the progressive elimination of those elements that were beside its point. The work was thus purged or “purified”—returned to its fundamentals. As it had been for Fry, “aesthetic unity” was what mattered most to Greenberg, and aesthetic unity at its most subtle and refined collapsed the material terms into as concentrated and self-sufficient a form as possible, making the work seem autonomous and hermetic—at the least, totally independent of literary and anecdotal considerations, to recall Bell, and as such a purely aesthetic experience. For Greenberg, a consummately formal, purely material, nonsymbolic work—for example, a painting finessing its flatness in the act of acknowledging it—was an exemplification of positivism, which he saw as the reigning ideology of the modern world. What counted in a Morris Louis (Louis, Morris) painting, for example, was the way the colours stained the canvas, confirming its flatness while seeming to levitate above it. The painting had presumably no other meaning than the sheer matter-of-factness of its colours and their movement on the canvas.

 As the 1950s and '60s wore on, Greenberg developed a trajectory of art. He posited that, after an inaugural period of innovation in Europe, Modernist painting became sublime in Abstract Expressionism, beautiful in the postpainterly—nongestural—abstraction of such artists as Louis, and then declined in imitative, all-too-reductionist minimalism. (Suprematism, Constructivism, and De Stijl, the early avant-garde movements that were Minimalism's point of departure, had a conceptual dimension, as the theoretical writings of their artists make clear, but it was their rejection of representation in favour of pure abstraction that gave them their important place in the history of modern art, in the eyes of Greenberg. In contrast, Greenberg probably rejected Minimalism because its “anonymous” simplicity seemed, from his perspective, to be more conceptual than abstract.) He felt that the decline of Minimalism was followed by the death of art in what he called “novelty art,” by which he meant Pop art and Dadaist-type art in general, continuing Barr's treatment of the “literary” as a mere sidebar to the story of abstraction. This idea of an organic sequence of events—birth, peak, and decline—also clearly built upon the ideas of Winckelmann.

      If criticism is in dialectical relationship with the art it studies, and analytic understanding is a kind of negation of the object understood, as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich) thought, then the abiding problem of art criticism is to restore the art object to concreteness and particularity. There is no question that the strength of formalist thought such as Greenberg's is the attention it pays to the material particularity of the art object. He was able to determine an object's place in art history on a purely formal-material basis.

      Formalism's weakness, however, is that it ignores the psychological context that informs the art. In his famous essay "Nature of Abstract Art" (1937), Meyer Schapiro critiques Barr, arguing that such a clearly defined “flowchart” view of formal development—seeing art as moving in one clear direction—assumes that artistic development has nothing to do with extra-artistic reality or, for that matter, as Schapiro emphasizes, the artist's state of mind—that is, his emotional response to the world in which he lived. Barr was sensitive to such criticism and once said, “The truth is that modern art cannot be defined with any degree of finality either in time or in character, and any attempt to do so implies a blind faith, insufficient knowledge, or an academic lack of realism”—a defense that his curatorial activities did not support. Greenberg, the formalist most often criticized for viewing the art object as formally hermetic, also in fact recognized history's unavoidable influence—if only in the vague form of the Zeitgeist—on abstract form. Indeed, he seemed to recognize that pure form was imbued with historical and expressive meaning—as when he spoke of the “material optimism” that informed Fernand Léger (Léger, Fernand)'s work and the “existential pessimism” implicit in Pollock's paintings—but he never systematically worked out their relationship.

      Beyond ignoring the culture surrounding the artist, formalism can also miss the context of the art world surrounding the artist. It often elevates one kind of art over other kinds in an attempt to establish a preemptive hierarchy of value. This often results in the flawed tendency, present throughout the history of art criticism, to view artistic development as operating in two distinctly different and opposing currents—e.g., Poussin versus Rubens and Ingres versus Delacroix. From this perspective, the dialectic between the ostensible opposites is ignored, and the complexity of art and the contemporary scene can never be appreciated.

“Other Criteria”: Rosenberg and Alloway
      In the essay "Other Criteria" (1972), the American scholar and critic Leo Steinberg criticized Greenberg from an art-historical point of view, stating that in Greenberg's “formalist ethic, the ideal critic remains unmoved by the artist's expressive intention, uninfluenced by his culture, deaf to his irony or iconography, and so proceeds undistracted, programmed like an Orpheus making his way out of Hell.” In light of such criticism, throughout the second half of the 20th century there were art historians/critics who did not follow the approach of Greenberg and instead remained “passionate, partisan, and political,” to quote Baudelaire's famous words, in their response to contemporary art: Schapiro in support of Arshile Gorky (Gorky, Arshile), Steinberg in support of Jasper Johns (Johns, Jasper), and Rosenblum in support of Frank Stella (Stella, Frank) are conspicuous examples. Schapiro spoke for all socially minded critics when he stated that he was committed to “the deep connection of art with the totality of culture.”

      Greenberg's intellectual nemesis and foil was American critic Harold Rosenberg (Rosenberg, Harold). Greenberg attacked him, without naming him, in an essay on the “bad name” given art criticism by critics who viewed art in “lifeworld,” rather than formal, terms. In fact, Rosenberg, a dialectician and existentialist, famously described the canvas as “an arena in which to act,” stating that what appeared in it “was not a picture but an event,” the result of an “encounter” between the painter and his “material.” Out of this came Rosenberg's most enduring ideas— Action painting (sometimes called process painting) and the concept of the avant-garde work of art as an uncertain or “anxious object” (the title of one of his books). For Rosenberg, art reflected an individualistic attempt by an artist to express himself, rather than simply to build on the formal achievements of those before him. Art was self-expression in the deepest sense—self-creation. Art criticism thus involved for Rosenberg, in critic Max Kozloff's words, “perception of the self through the medium of the work of art and perception of the work of art through the medium of the self.” Rosenberg was speaking about the Abstract Expressionist painter and, more broadly, the avant-garde artist when he declared that “the anxiety of art is a philosophical quality perceived by artists to be inherent in acts of creation of our time.” This approach of seeing art from the artist's perspective removed art from the formal vacuum of Greenberg's criticism and placed it directly in the realm of the social. Implicit in the ideas of “action,” “anxiety,” and personal expression is the political, which had no place in the realm of possibility in Greenbergian formalism. Like Greenberg, Rosenberg was most supportive of Abstract Expressionist artists, but he preferred Arshile Gorky (Gorky, Arshile) and Willem de Kooning (de Kooning, Willem) to Greenberg's preference, Pollock (Pollock, Jackson), without denying the latter's importance. All three artists were gestural, but for Rosenberg, Gorky's surreal landscapes and de Kooning's bizarre figures suggested a greater awareness of the anxious self. It is worth noting that Rosenberg has been criticized for not attending to particular works the way Greenberg did, but then he attended to psychosocial context in a way Greenberg never did.

      Beside Rosenberg, the English critic Lawrence Alloway is perhaps the most important of the “other” critics. He truly rebelled against Greenbergian formalism, although, as he acknowledged, he was initially a convinced Greenbergian. Alloway was the first critic who wrote about Pop art (which Greenberg had dismissed as “novelty art”) in any depth, even coining its name. Just as Dadaism, in its literary nature, was not directly part of the formal trajectory set by Barr, so Pop art defied Greenberg's formal trajectory toward abstraction, best embodied by the work of the Abstract Expressionists.

      Perhaps most important, Alloway was the first critic “to consider mass-produced sign-systems as art,” as he wrote in American Pop Art (1974). He used theories of mass communication and social behaviour to analyze art, as opposed to using purely formal, material bases of analysis. Alloway had what he called an “expansionist aesthetic with a place for both abstract expressionism and Hollywood”—he in fact curated an exhibition of films dealing with violence for the Museum of Modern Art—and he argued for the existence of a “fine art/popular culture continuum.” He disputed the “elite, idealist, and purist” aestheticism of Greenberg and Fry, which “sought the pure centre of each art in isolation from the others.” Instead, as it was for Rosenberg, he felt that the work of art represented the reality of the artist's engagement in the culture around him.

      Alloway, then, collapsed the distinction between “high” and “low” art that had been established by Greenberg in his famous essay "Avant-garde and Kitsch" (1939). In so doing, Alloway opened the way to a new sense of what he called the social “topicality” of art. (It is worth noting that the integration of high and low art has been understood by some to be the gist of postmodern art.) Alloway's ideas had far-reaching consequences: they opened the way for cultural studies—in Alloway's formulation in American Pop Art, a “willingness to treat our culture as art”—and an anthropological approach to art that saw it as a way of making our “commonality” explicit. This commonality is especially evident in the familiar cultural iconography, or “clichés,” used by the artist that are the “common property that…binds us together.” For Alloway, the critic's duty is to identify and analyze freshly topical art, restoring it to the social context from which it took its point of departure and acknowledging its contribution to that context. He held that art has sociohistorical content and that it is made by artists with a vital interest in the outcome of the issues it addresses.

      Alloway extended his democratic understanding of art to his understanding of the role of the critic when, in Topics in American Art Since 1945 (1975), he repudiated “the tendency to view the reactions of art critics to works of art as signs of the real meaning and hence as more true than lay reactions,” stating that, “in fact, art criticism is not a model for the personal experience of each spectator. Art criticism is concerned with meaning, at a social and academic level, as sharable commentary. As such, it does not pre-empt other readings; it co-exists with them.” This seems to deny that there is any “essence,” or objective truth, to art criticism, or any truly proper way of practicing it.

      Greenberg, Rosenberg, and Alloway represent an important phenomenon of the 20th century: the emergence of the professional art critic. They practiced art criticism assiduously and regularly and even earned income from it—Greenberg wrote for the Nation, and Rosenberg was a longtime critic for The New Yorker. A number of art historians also became critics, further professionalizing—indeed, academicizing—art criticism. In The Painted Word (1975), American author Tom Wolfe (Wolfe, Tom) writes about the power of Greenberg and Rosenberg. Wolfe argues that they did not simply make a case for a certain reading of modern art, but their influence was such that contemporary painters obediently submitted to their ideas, showing the power of critical theory over art (a phenomenon prevalent since the 17th century, when Le Brun set the standard of Poussin for the Academy). Wolfe proposes that, during the heyday of such critics as Greenberg and Rosenberg, criticism no longer simply interpreted art, enlightening the viewer about it, but rather dictated to it, like an ideology: theoretical intervention became manipulative control of artistic practice. In other words, at a certain point conformity to critical theory became more important than creative nonconformity, suggesting the truth of the art historian Max J. Friedländer's categorical statement that “the rule of theory always rises in proportion as creative power falls.”

Formalism's legacy
      Starting more or less in the 1960s, a new generation of critics was influenced by Greenberg's ideas and developed a secondary, more “conceptual” or intellectualized approach to formalism, often in an attempt to acknowledge the challenges of critics such as Rosenberg and Alloway. American critic Michael Fried, in the essay "Art and Objecthood" (1967), apotheosized “art” in contrast to “theatricality”—another version of Greenberg's elevation of formal art over literary art, more particularly of Cubism over Dadaism—arguing that “it is by virtue of their presentness and instantaneousness that modernist painting and sculpture defeat theater.” Fried's dismissal of Minimalism as “ingratiating theater”—in effect what Greenberg called “novelty art”—and as such not true art, extends Greenberg's dismissal of “literary” art as beside the aesthetic point. (For Fried, the audience is implicated in theatre, while pure art rises above the audience to assert its own hermetic integrity.) For Fried, the only works that counted in the 1960s were the paintings of Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland (Noland, Kenneth), Jules Olitski, and Frank Stella and the sculptures of David Smith and Anthony Caro (Caro, Sir Anthony) (many of the same preferences of Greenberg at the time). Presumably these works alone seemed formally self-sufficient—aesthetically pure. The irreconcilability of art and theatre was the mainstay of Fried's thought until, rebounding into the 19th century (thinking about the work of such artists as Courbet and Thomas Eakins (Eakins, Thomas)) and as though searching for a way out of what looked like an increasingly inhibiting formalism, Fried expanded his evaluative criteria and perhaps even emotional responsiveness to art by including psychoanalytic ideas in his formal assessments.

      Starting in the 1970s, another one-time Greenberg devotee, American critic Rosalind Krauss, also looked for a way to move formalism forward. In Terminal Iron Works (1971), she wrote about sculptor David Smith (Smith, David) in broadly formalist terms, getting “beyond an historical context,” as she said, and attempting to offer what New [literary] Criticism and theorist Roland Barthes (Barthes, Roland) called an “immanent analysis,” which focused on the structure and themes of Smith's sculpture and, to some extent, explicated them. But she also had a certain interest in psychoanalysis, if initially only a scholarly interest, as her brief mention of Sigmund Freud in her discussion of the totemic aspect of Smith's works indicates. Later in her career she used Lacanian (Lacan, Jacques) psychoanalysis to explicate “the counterhistory” of Modernism. She wrote that it was the “optical unconscious” that mattered, not the self-conscious “opticality”—emphasis on pure aesthetic perception—that Greenberg and Fried celebrated in Modernist painting. Despite her adoption of Greenberg's focus on the object and its material qualities, she repudiated Greenberg's formalism for its lack of “method,” in contrast to her own use of theoretical models such as that of Jacques Lacan.

The irony of the avant-garde
      Krauss's kind of tendentious theoretical analysis, often strongly tinged with an ideological bias, tended to replace strictly aesthetic formal analyses as the century progressed. Her appropriation of the ideas and terminology of various French theorists—Jacques Derrida (Derrida, Jacques) as well as Barthes and Lacan—became fashionable among postmodern artists and critics from the 1970s onward. In particular, such French cultural theorists as Jean Baudrillard, Michel Foucault (Foucault, Michel), and Jean-François Lyotard were used by artists to rationalize and justify—and give an intellectual mystique and cachet to—their art, and by critics to explicate art in terms of the post-structuralist understanding of contemporary culture. Why the French theorists should have the monopoly on the understanding of contemporary culture is not clear, although their presumed leftism was appealing to would-be “advanced” critics and artists—that is, aspirants to the mantle of avant-gardism, which still claimed for itself “resistance,” the catchword from the 1970s on, if no longer “revolution.”

      Despite such aspirations, at the end of the 20th century, avant-gardism in many ways became academic, routine, and repetitive. No matter how much critical writing by artists—perhaps most noteworthily, from the 1960s on, by Donald Judd, Joseph Kosuth, Robert Morris, and Robert Smithson—staked out subtle avant-garde positions, their art and ideas were quickly assimilated, becoming trendy, marketable, and reputable. To some critics, this turn of events was not surprising. As Daniel Bell (Bell, Daniel) pointed out in The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1979), the avant-garde artist “swiftly shapes the audience and the market.” As Bell believes, the surprise and shock of the new dwindles into fashionable novelty, fueled by capitalist momentum rather than profound concern for the artistic and human truth, which in turn leads to innovative ways of articulating it. The irony of avant-garde art, therefore, is that its professed leftism and ostensibly radical difference made it highly marketable as a capitalist trophy, Picasso's ever-changing art being the example par excellence. Avant-garde art, which once seemed illegitimate, became as legitimate as gold in the bank. In this way, the stakes for art criticism—once a force that sought to gain acceptance for avant-garde art—radically changed. Indeed, in From Manet to Manhattan: The Rise of the Modern Art Market (1992), journalist Peter Watson points out that art criticism, however high-minded, serves the art market, which is part of the prevailing consumer society (a reality especially prevalent after the art boom of the 1980s). Watson suggests that, in a capitalist society, art is above all a luxury commodity, and art criticism is the packaging designed to create a taste for it.

Art criticism at the turn of the 21st century
      By the end of the 20th century, American Hilton Kramer, former art critic for The New York Times and editor of the conservative periodical The New Criterion, remained the one major convinced Greenbergian. American critic Barbara Rose, who rose to prominence in the 1960s for her formalist criticism—in "One-Dimensional Criticism" (1966) she wrote that she thought it “was developed in order to place art criticism on a less impressionistic, more abstract plane of discussion”—opted out of it after realizing that “art criticism is no science; very little that can be said about an art work is verifiable” and “very little that is verifiable is relevant to a discussion of art.” Finding no “tradition of criticism within which to operate” after abandoning formalist criticism or any “new terms [concepts] to meet the new situations artists present,” Rose more or less gave up on art criticism, apart from desultory commentary on stray artists. She was in effect tired of the new, which she did not find particularly newsworthy.

      In this way, as formalism lost its sway among art critics, art writing became, from the 1970s on, less “literary”—essayistic and informal—and more doctrinaire and intellectually focused. In this atmosphere, theoretical orthodoxy often became as important as art-historical orthodoxy; certain theorists—e.g., Barthes and Derrida for Krauss—became canonical sources of interpretation along with certain artists. Such criticism sometimes took on the hermetic quality of formalism when a critic explored the use of theory involving language and semiotics, as did Krauss.

      The new wave of art criticism could also take on a political quality. In the 1970s, at the height of the feminist movement, American critic Lucy Lippard advocated women's art, helping to bring this movement from the margin of the art world to the centre of social concern. She wrote with particular conviction about artists Eva Hesse and Judy Chicago and also supported so-called marginal art of all kinds, which for her meant art that put social concern—“human interest” (which Greenberg dismissed)—before aesthetic form. Other important feminist critics—and prominent art historians—include American critic Linda Nochlin, who together with Ann Sutherland Harris produced an epoch-making, eye-opening exhibition of 400 years of women artists (1550–1950), and Griselda Pollock, who fuses feminist and Marxist analysis of art. Another way that political content directly entered criticism was in the Marxist critiques of art historians/critics John Berger, T.J. Clark, and Benjamin Buchloh. At its best, such political art criticism can be enlightening and bring to the fore previously unexplored issues; at its worst, it can be didactic, dogmatic, intolerant, and forced.

      Journalistic criticism—reportage about art, with a sprinkling of opinion—continued to exist, more or less as it had throughout modern history. In the last two decades of the 20th century, the most visible journalistic critics—their visibility had in large part to do with the magazine or newspaper they wrote for—were Robert Hughes (Time), Michael Kimmelman (The New York Times), Kim Levin (The Village Voice), and Robert Pincus-Witten (Arts Magazine), among others. None of them had a distinct point of view, but rather they commented on the art randomly available to them in galleries and museums, taking their lead from institutions rather than being guided by a single theory. They were perhaps more chroniclers than critics. Some critics' perceptions were dominated by their devotion to one kind of art—e.g., Nicolas Calas, who tracked Surrealism through all its contemporary permutations. Many artists also wrote criticism to advocate their own kind of art at the expense of other art, including Donald Judd and Patrick Heron.

      Postmodernism, the reigning ideology of critical debate at the end of the century, claims that there is not a single, objective set of values or perspectives but instead a plurality of perspectives. This became especially apparent in the 1980s and '90s, when a variety of critical approaches emerged. A new philosophical criticism emerged in the person of American critic Arthur Danto, who came out with the idea that “the objects [of art] approach zero as their theory approaches infinity”—that is, “art really is over, having become transmuted into philosophy.” This Hegelian notion gave pride of place to conceptual art, making all art seem conceptual, and gave traditional philosophizing about art a contemporary focus. A new psychoanalytically oriented criticism emerged in the person of this author, American critic Donald Kuspit (formally trained in philosophy, art history, and psychoanalysis, all of which he integrated in his work), who, like the English art critic Adrian Stokes, used object-relational ideas to examine art in emotional depth, in agreement with Ernst Cassirer's view that all forms are inherently expressive and symbolic. Art critically speaking, this author (who has written a book on Greenberg), follows in Rosenberg's steps in his concern with the state of the self in art. In contrast to both of them, the American artist-critic Douglas Davis put technology before aesthetic form, arguing for its enormous influence on modern art. American critic Dave Hickey argued for a “return to beauty” in art, and English critic Peter Fuller offered a psychoanalytic interpretation of abstract art even as he advocated political art.

      At the turn of the 21st century, then, art criticism no longer adheres to one current, fashionable approach; unexpectedly paralleling the model set by the ancients, art criticism can now evoke elements of the formal, psychological, moral, social, and spiritual. Of course, the 21st century brings a variety of social, economic, and technological changes that the ancients could not have anticipated, which no doubt will continue to inspire new methods of criticism. It is impossible, in the new century, to privilege one mode of criticism over the other—to do so is to turn it into a prejudice in favour of a particular kind of art. At the same time, it seems necessary for someone to show the rationale for all forms of criticism and their relationship with each other and to integrate them into a grand systematic theory of critical practice. This daunting, perhaps impossible task is best left to the ideal Oscar Wilde described in "The Critic as Artist" (1891): the critic who regards his craft as the grandest art of all.

Donald Burton Kuspit

Additional Reading

The best survey of the history of criticism before the 20th century is Julius Schlosser, Die Kunstliteratur: ein Handbuch zur Quellenkunde der neueren Kunstgeschichte (1924, reprinted 1985). Lionello Venturi, History of Art Criticism, new, rev. ed., trans. by Charles Marriott (1964; originally published in Italian, 1936), covers the same ground, adding early 20th-century art criticism.

Early criticism
Art criticism did not emerge as a distinct discipline until about the 18th century, and so most important explorations of the topic in ancient and medieval times were written in the context of writings with a more general philosophical or historical purpose. The first writings that can truly be categorized as early art criticism emerged in the Renaissance. Early examples include Giovanni, Matteo, and Filippo Villani, Cronica (1308–64); Leon Battista Alberti, De pictura (1435; On Painting, 1966); Cennino Cennini, Il libro dell'arte (1437; The Book of the Art of Cennino Cennini, 1899); Lorenzo Ghiberti, I Commentarii (c. 1447); Albrecht Dürer, Hierinn sind begriffen Vier Bücher von menschlicher Proportion (1528); and the posthumously translated and edited work, A.P. MacMahon (ed.), Treatise on Painting by Leonardo da Vinci (1956). The seminal work of the period is Giorgio Vasari, Le vite de' più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori italiani… (1550; Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, trans. by Jonathan Foster, 1850–52).Important secondary sources on the period include J.J. Pollitt, The Ancient View of Greek Art: Criticism, History, and Terminology (1974); and T.S.R. Boase, Giorgio Vasari: The Man and the Book (1979).

Seventeenth century
Art criticism became more theoretical in the later 17th century in writings such as Marco Boschini, La carta del navegar pitoresco (1660), and Le ricche minere della pittura veneziana (1674), which deal with Venetian painting; Roland Fréart, Idée de la perfection de la peinture démonstrée par les principes de l'art (1662; An Idea of the Perfection of Painting, 1668); André Félibien, Entretiens sur les vies et sur les ouvrages des plus excellens peintres anciens et modernes (1666–88), on great painters and architects of history; Giovanni Pietro Bellori, Le vite de' pittori, scultori, et architetti moderni (1672), on modern artists; Charles Perrault, Paralelle des anciens et des modernes (1688–97), comparing classical with modern arts and sciences; and Roger de Piles, Abrégé de la vie des peintres, avec des reflexions sur leurs ouvrages, et un traité du peintre parfait (1699).Secondary sources on the period include Philip Sohm, Pittoresco: Marco Boschini, His Critics, and Their Critiques of Painterly Brushwork in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Italy (1991); and Thomas Puttfarken, Roger de Piles' Theory of Art (1985).

Eighteenth century
As the discipline of art criticism became more defined in the 18th century, important writings emerged such as Jonathan Richardson, Two Discourses: I. An Essay on the Whole Art of Criticism as It Relates to Painting and II. An Argument in Behalf of the Science of a Connoisseur (1719); Johann Winckelmann, Gedancken über die Nachahmung der griechischen wercke in der Mahlerey und Bildhauer-Kunst (1755; Reflections on the Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks, trans. by Henry Fuseli, 1765), and Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums (1764; The History of Ancient Art, trans. by G. Henry Lodge, 1849–73); and the reviews written by Diderot, which were later collected in Denis Diderot, Salons, ed. by Jean Seznec and Jean Adhémar (1957–67).Secondary sources on 18th-century art criticism include Neil McWilliam (ed.), A Bibliography of Salon Criticism in Paris from the Ancien Régime to the Restoration, 1699–1827 (1991).

Nineteenth century
In the 19th century, art criticism fully emerged as a discipline. Many writings appeared in journals and newspapers, and so compilations are especially useful in studies of this period; see especially Elizabeth Gilmore Holt (compiler and ed.), The Art of All Nations, 1850–73: The Emerging Role of Exhibitions and Critics (1981), which includes passages from contemporary reviews and articles; and Charles Harrison, Paul Wood, and Jason Gaiger (eds.), Art in Theory, 1815–1900: An Anthology of Changing Ideas (1998). Important writings by individual critics include Paul Valéry, The Collected Works of Paul Valéry (1956–75), a posthumous collection of his writings; Théophile Gautier, Les Beaux-Arts en Europe—1855 (1855–56); Charles Baudelaire, The Mirror of Art: Critical Studies, trans. and ed. by Jonathan Mayne (1955), another posthumous collection; Champfleury, Le Réalisme (1857), on realism in art; Castagnary, Les Libres Propos (1864), a collection of critical articles; Théophile Thoré, Salons de T. Thoré, 1844, 1845, 1846, 1847, 1848 (1868), and Salons de W. Bürger, 1861 à 1868 (1870); Edmond de Goncourt and Jules de Goncourt, L'Art du dix-huitième siècle (1859–75), and Journal: Mémoires de la vie littéraire, ed. by Robert Ricatte (1956); John Ruskin, Modern Painters (1843–60), and Lectures on Art: Delivered Before the University of Oxford in Hilary Term, 1870 (1870); Oscar Wilde, “The Critic as Artist,” in Intentions (1891); and Albert Aurier, Oeuvres posthumes, ed. by Rémy de Gourmont (1893), a collection of all aspects of Aurier's writing.Important secondary sources on the period include Neil McWilliam, A Bibliography of Salon Criticism in Paris from the July Monarchy to the Second Empire, 1831–1851 (1991); David Anthony Downes, Ruskin's Landscape of Beatitude (1980, reissued 1984); and George Heard Hamilton, Manet and His Critics (1954, reprinted 1986).

Twentieth century
A vast array of art criticism emerged in the 20th century. Often these texts took the form of historiography, rather than the straightforward critical essay. Many of the period's important writings appeared in journals and magazines, again making compilations useful. Of particular interest are Herschel B. Chipp (compiler), Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics (1968, reissued 1984), which begins in the late 19th century and moves into the 20th century; Charles Harrison and Paul Wood (eds.), Art in Theory, 1900–1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas (1992); and Arlene Raven, Cassandra L. Langer, and Joanna Frueh (eds.), Feminist Art Criticism: An Anthology (1988, reissued 1991).Important writings by individuals at the beginning of the century include Julius Meier-Graefe, Entwickelungsgeschichte der modernen kunst (1904; Modern Art: Being a Contribution to a New System of Aesthetics, trans. by Florence Simmonds and George W. Chrystal, 1908); Guillaume Apollinaire, Peintures Cubistes: meditations esthetiques (1912; Cubist Painters: Aesthetic Meditations, 1944); Roger Fry, Vision and Design (1920, reissued 1974), and Cézanne: A Study of His Development (1927, reissued 1958); and Wilhelm Uhde, Picasso and the French Tradition: Notes on Contemporary Painting, trans. by F.M. Loving (1929; originally published in French, 1928), and Five Primitive Masters (1949, reissued 1969; originally published in German, 1947).Important secondary literature on the early 20th century includes Harry E. Buckley, Guillaume Apollinaire as an Art Critic (1981); LeRoy C. Breunig (ed.), Apollinaire on Art: Essays and Reviews, 1902–1918 (1972, reprinted 1988; originally published in French, 1960); and Donald A. Laing, Roger Fry: An Annotated Bibliography of the Published Writings (1979), and Clive Bell: An Annotated Bibliography of the Published Writings (1983).Texts by mid-century writers include Clement Greenberg, Art and Culture (1961, reissued 1989), and The Collected Essays and Criticism, ed. by John O'Brian, 4 vol. (1986–93); John Canaday, Embattled Critic: Views on Modern Art (1962, reprinted 1972); Harold Rosenberg, The Anxious Object: Art Today and Its Audience (1964), The Tradition of the New (1959, available in many later printings), Artworks and Packages (1969, reprinted 1982), The De-definition of Art: Action Art to Pop to Earthworks (1972, reissued 1983), and Art on the Edge: Creators and Situations (1975, reissued 1983); Nicolas Calas, Art in the Age of Risk, and Other Essays (1968); Nicolas Calas and Elena Calas, Icons and Images of the Sixties (1971); Max Kozloff, Renderings: Critical Essays on a Century of Modern Art (1968, reissued 1970); Lawrence Alloway, American Pop Art (1974), Topics in American Art Since 1945 (1975), and The Venice Biennale, 1895–1968: From Salon to Goldfish Bowl (1968); and Leo Steinberg, Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art (1972).Secondary sources on the period include Donald Kuspit, Clement Greenberg, Art Critic (1979); and Tom Wolfe, The Painted Word (1975, reissued 1999).Important texts from later in the century include Lucy R. Lippard, Changing: Essays in Art Criticism (1971), From the Center: Feminist Essays on Women's Art (1976), Overlay: Contemporary Art and the Art of Prehistory (1983, reissued 1995), and Get the Message?: A Decade of Art for Social Change (1984); Donald Judd, Complete Writings, 1959–1975: Gallery Reviews, Book Reviews, Articles, Letters to the Editor, Reports, Statements, Complaints (1975); Meyer Schapiro, Modern Art, 19th & 20th Centuries: Selected Papers (1978, reprinted 1982), Theory and Philosophy of Art: Style, Artist, and Society (1994), and Words, Script, and Pictures: Semiotics of Visual Language (1996); Michael Fried, Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot (1980, reissued 1988), Realism, Writing, Disfiguration: On Thomas Eakins and Stephen Crane (1987, reissued 1989), Manet's Modernism; or, the Face of Painting in the 1860s (1996), and Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews (1998); Ann Sutherland Harris and Linda Nochlin, Women Artists, 1550–1950 (1976); Linda Nochlin, Women, Art, and Power: And Other Essays (1988); Rozsika Parker and Griselda Pollock (eds.), Framing Feminism: Art and the Women's Movement, 1970–85 (1987); Rosalind E. Krauss, Terminal Iron Works: The Sculpture of David Smith (1971, reissued 1979), Passages in Modern Sculpture (1977, reissued 1981), The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (1985), and The Optical Unconscious (1993); Barbara Rose, Autocritique: Essays on Art and Anti-Art, 1963–1987 (1988); Hilton Kramer, The Age of the Avant-Garde: An Art Chronicle of 1956–1972 (1973), and The Revenge of the Philistines: Art and Culture, 1972–1984 (1985); John Berger, Ways of Seeing (1972, reissued 1988), and About Looking (1980, reissued 1991); Douglas Davis, Art and the Future: A History/Prophecy of the Collaboration between Science, Technology, and Art (1973); Robert Pincus-Witten, Postminimalism into Maximalism: American Art, 1966–1986 (1987); Adrian Stokes, The Critical Writings of Adrian Stokes, ed. by Lawrence Gowing, 3 vol. (1978); Peter Fuller, Art and Psychoanalysis (1980, reissued 1988); T.J. Clark, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers, rev. ed. (1999); Donald Kuspit, The New Subjectivism: Art in the 1980s (1988, reissued 1993), The Cult of the Avant-Garde Artist (1993), Signs of Psyche in Modern and Postmodern Art (1993), Idiosyncratic Identities: Artists at the End of the Avant-Garde (1996), Psychostrategies of Avant-Garde Art (2000), The Rebirth of Painting in the Late Twentieth Century (2000), and Redeeming Art: Critical Reveries (2000); Dave Hickey, The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty (1993), and Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy (1997); Patrick Heron, Painter as Critic: Patrick Heron, Selected Writings, ed. by Mel Gooding (1998); Benjamin Buchloh, Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry: Essays on European and American Art from 1955 to 1975 (1999); and Arthur C. Danto, Encounters & Reflections: Art in the Historical Present (1990, reprinted 1997), Philosophizing Art: Selected Essays (1999), and The Madonna of the Future: Essays in a Pluralistic Art World (2000).Secondary sources on the period include Daniel Bell, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1979, reissued 1996); and Peter Watson, From Manet to Manhattan: The Rise of the Modern Art Market (1992).Donald Burton Kuspit

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