You be the judge of what is trash or trophy

Nassy Benton


The CRITIC can make or break an artist's career.

Artists are often encouraged or discouraged in their pursuit of art by society.

Vincent Van Gogh never achieved critical success in his lifetime, although his paintings are worth millions today. The critics were wrong about people liking his art.

Critics have their own prejudices and agendas are not always accurate in their assessment of art. Famous for his portrait of his mother, Whistler's Mother, James McNeil Whistler ignored, taunted and challenged the critics and kept on painting. The respected German painter, Emil Nolde, was forbidden to paint by the Nazis when they started their purge of Expressionist Art , so he hide his large canvasses and painted tiny watercolors that did not have the smell of oils and that could be hidden quickly.

Robert Hughes

is an American art critic who has taken the "art " of critiquing to new levels. You can view his PBS series AMERICAN VISIONS and the SHOCK OF THE NEW on video and read his comments in his two published texts by the same names. He currently writes for TIME magazine. Visit his web site for his comments on the Art in America in the 1930's.

Refer to the Textbook, The Visual Experience, by Jack Hobbs and Richard Salome, (Davis Publications, Massachusetts, 1995). Pages 312-315 address the proper format for a critique.


CRITIQUE FORMAT - A good critique should include each of these parts. Each part should be at least one paragraph.

1.Description - what do you see? Report direct information from the label, subject matter, and art elements.

2. Analysis - You are looking for the way the artist has organized the Art Elements to convey the message in the work…..Compare and contrast, look for movement, dominance, balance and relationships.

3. Interpretation - What is the meaning of the work and what does it express about the human experience? Use your description, metaphors, and a hypothesis to defend your interpretation. If the painting conveys sadness, what elements did the artist use to capture that mood?

4. Evaluation - it is not enough to say "I like it" or it is "ugly" A good critic will judge the quality or success of the work based on the following criteria:

Craftsmanship, Design Quality, Expressiveness, Personal Response,

Originality and Comparison to other works

Be able to persuade others of your point of view.



Armed with all this knowledge, you should be able to write a 500 word critique about one of the pieces of art work that you have selected. The critique will be part of your exhibition. Be honest but thoughtful in your comments as most artists have fragile egos.