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Recently I had an intensive discussion with the ceramist Marc Leuthold about: is art critic necessary or not. He said:

 

“Critics play a key role in educating the public and calling attention to overlooked artwork. If they do their job well and pick wisely, they play a valuable role in the art worldâ€.

 

And what is YOUR opinion? Debate is open.............

 

Evelyne

 

Edit: An American friend just explained to me the difference between critique and critic. You know, there are many stumbling blocks in the way when one's mother tongue isn't English. I, and Marc, of course meant "art critics", but we gladly can discuss both, critique AND critics, here in this weeks QOTW.

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I'm kinda...eh...touchy...when it comes to people who are not posessed of a shred of artistic skill giving my blood, sweat, and tears negative criticism. If I ASK for feedback, it's always from other artists who have experience in the actual creation of art. Critics are people who are paid to make or break careers and given too much weight to judge something as personal and objective as art. You see this with movies all the time, and I've pretty much learned to take the words of critics with about a kilo of salt. :D

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I think one of the major things lacking in these times is honest, informed, educated critique.

 

Make special note of the adjectives I used as this does not include what your fan club likes, or your family likes, or what someone is willing to buy.

It does not include people with no knowledge/education/background in the history and processes of the medium.

It does not include posters on Pinterest or "likes" on Facebook.

 

I think this lack of objective critique hurts the learning process.

There is no way to improve if someone does not ask you to look at your work from a different perspective.

Someone who intelligently asks you to reconsider your forms or retry your surface design.

Someone who can tell you the lip is too large or the handle doesn't work, or the colors are not quite there yet.

Someone to prod you into stretching out a bit.

 

With most of us working in solitary to semi-solitary studios, an honest critique is a rare gem to treasure.

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Critiques are difficult. Difficult to do objectively, and difficult to receive objectively. What I mean here is if you are critiquing someones work, you have to step outside of your own biases and preferences, look beyond what you know and look to the qualities of the object/s in front of you. . . difficult. At the same time if you are being critiqued, you have to step outside of your ownership of the work, become impersonal about your work, and listen to what is being said.  Often critiques are taken most easily when working in a shared studio environment where peers respect each other, working towards their own expressions. Often comments about form, texture or other attributes are taken in the give and take of the day. Growth happens. The problem with most of us, as Chris has stated, we work alone remotely removed from others on a day to day basis. Often the only critique we will get is at a show from a cranky person that is dragging themselves through 200 booths on a hot muggy day, when they would rather be at home relaxing, shopping in an air-conditioned mall, out playing golf, or in the pool. Their spouse brought them along.

 

Posting pieces in your gallery, should get some response, especially if you ask, but all too often people don't respond because they really can't see the work in the picture, or get a feeling for size, detail or other attributes; are afraid of offending you; are rushing through hundreds of pots for inspiration and don't want to take the time to post. Too bad that we don't respond, and I am one that usually does not. My reasoning comes from years of grading. I the last 20 there were set criteria for work, I knew what the intent was, what the design parameters were, and the materials. I usually upset students with my thorough bluntness, but I tried to be objective, unbiased, and open minded. However, junk is junk, and if it is so, I say so!

 

best,

Pres

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There is the critique that teaches, eg: cover the page; define the negative space; use color to give the illusion of space as well as form. Usually when I hear the critique of this sort  it was something I almost knew but needed the nudge to get there.

Critique is not asking someone if they like it, not at all. So there must be terms defined as to what criterion the critic is using to critique. and to be honest the artist must make a statement of intent. Art has nothing to do with craftsmanship ( unfortunately !)

So two different standards are used for ceramics, whether the piece is sound , and whether it is aesthetically pleasing. Actually, three really, because there is the aesthetics of common items such as a mug or vase, and there are the art pieces.

 Now , for me , the important part is whether I like it. If I do, I honestly could care less who else likes it. That is because it usually take me all kinds of gyrations until I do like it, until it says what I  want. So as a beginner on the wheel, if I get something to look like a bowl or a cup, I KNOW it wouldn't pass muster w your standards, but I am tickled pink, the hell w your standards(lol). But as I get better at it , I will want your standards. I know from past experience that when my skill set catches up w my imagination, I will reach another impasse that ONLY someone who is more skilled will be able to see and correct, so I will need the first kind of critique.

 Now the second kind is tied up w popularity, sale-ability, reaching into peoples minds and , in some cases , pockets.

Take JK Rowling, boy did she ever reach into both w Harry Potter. Then she wrote that other book(which one was that again? lol). Well she went right back to Harry Potter. He is my point: I do not believe that critiquing someone"s art benefits the artist unless it is favorable. The critiquing is really done for the critic and his(her) followers. I can not make even VanGauh's  canvases speak to you if they don't . If you you do like his work , and so do I , well I tell you about others work that I like. I don't understand warning you off some one.

Now that being said, my daughter , 14 , draws the exact same guy, facing forward, over and over again. Ever see the girl who took a picture of herself every day in the exact same pose, and it flashes through years in about a minute?Well that is this figure!Now I "critique" her on the merit of never changing anything up. And I would definitely want someone to bump me to the next if possible,resting on laurels sucks too.  I am very careful who I ask advice from, and more careful on who I listen to. Motive is hard to know and oh so important.

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Jolieo

 

While I agree with parts of your statement I do not get this sentence ...

 

> I do not believe that critiquing someone"s art benefits the artist unless it is favorable.

 

Why?? What good is it to hear only praise? Not that praise isn't lovely, but .....

 

Also ...

> I can not make even VanGauh's canvases speak to you if they don't.

 

Sometimes, when the person is knowledgeable and can explain what the artist was trying to do, what they were going through, what their lives were like ... They can bring you to an appreciation of artwork, even if you don't particularly like it.

 

These kind of folks would probably give awesome critiques of work too since they know what to look for ... Intent, design, execution.

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Guest JBaymore

In critiques I do at the college, using the words "like" and "love" are off the table.  Also the negatives of those terms.

 

We also focus on the fact that the word "critique" does not automatically imply a negative context to the process or the comments.

 

best,

 

...................john

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Once, early on in my primitive pottery career, I made à southeastern bowl and a

southeastern pipe and showed both to a professional

Archaeologist for a critique. I thought both looked good, but he

said the finish on the bowl wasn't right but the pipe was dead on.

I can't remember now if was weeks or months later but it sank in and

I started doing less and the "look" improved. It was a case of less

is more. But I do remember sitting both on the table and looking

back and forth. Hint: the bowl had a San Ildelfonso modern finish and

the pipe didn't. The archaeologist had given me a helpful critique,

it was up to me to figure it out.

See ya,

Alabama

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I am most/only familiar with three categories of critics: those who buy my work, those who look but don't buy, and those who have no interest in buying but are curious about something they see while walking around. And, there are those who just walk by and ignore the whole display, but I realized long ago the type of items I make are not for everyone. I am not inclined to enter competitions or gallery shows, so I'm not sure what a juror would think of my work. And, if I find an "art critic" is looking at my work, I would truly wonder if he/she had run out of more interesting things to assess and why they were bothering with mine. I do appreciate helpful comments and suggestions from other potters and those who use my vases, etc. as they help me make a better item that meets their needs and use.

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There are a few very good answers here that hit the nail on the head!

 

For me:

 

Art Critics: are necessary and are welcome if the person doing the "critic" in a magazine say, or on TV, radio etc. is really competent and the critic is not judgmental but constructive.

 

Art Critique: is also welcome because I can learn a lot from critique of others. But for me the critique must come, also in this case, from a competent person and must be reasonable, like in Alabama's story. Given like that, I can take it, or leave it.

My husband is criticizing my works often, and often you can see steam coming out of my ears while listening to him with folded arms and a tapping foot :lol: , but it always is helpful in the end. But I agree, it isn't easy to take critique.

 

Evelyne

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Jolieo

While I agree with parts of your statement I do not get this sentence ...

> I do not believe that critiquing someone"s art benefits the artist unless it is favorable.

Why?? What good is it to hear only praise? Not that praise isn't lovely, but .....

Also ...

> I can not make even VanGauh's canvases speak to you if they don't.

Sometimes, when the person is knowledgeable and can explain what the artist was trying to do, what they were going through, what their lives were like ... They can bring you to an appreciation of artwork, even if you don't particularly like it.

These kind of folks would probably give awesome critiques of work too since they know what to look for ... Intent, design, execution.

I agree. Sister Wendy tours and John Updike's Art writings never fail to get me to look in different ways. Robert Hughes and John Leonard, many more, in their fields. We teach ourselves how to value the analysis of others by exposure and testing. Some critics I always read very critically, or skeptically, based on my opinions of what they've said before.

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My critiques at MSU-B were long, not brutal but constructive objectivity. Does a teapot pour? Sculptures convey the thought?

technical issues considered as well as aesthetics. I don't see why this would not benefit someone's learning curve. That is the intent of critiques.

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I also miss having someone critique my work, I loved the critique sessions in college,  it's like getting a pair of fresh eyes.  Now I have to drag my poor husband out to the studio to give me one, I must say he is getting better at it over the years.  Denice

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We are working in a craft that would have started w an apprenticeship in any other period of history. All art started w learning the craft in the most monotonous , boring , uncreative way possible: carrying out repetitive tasks, and following someone  else's directive w no input. So 100 years ago , if apprenticed, one would have learned the craft before putting one's personal aesthetic into play. College tries to do this, I think some better than others. So here we are, some life long learners, some middle aged and starting, hopefully young ones too. Critique from a teacher, who taught everything, i believe goes down easier, and is understood better, and respected more, than critique from an unknown, or casually known source. this way we have right now is not the best way to go about it.(imo)

Critique has different meaning and purpose depending on where in our learning process/career we are. As a beginner, it is vital to the learning process, to have someone other than the maker assay the art/craft. To the intermediate , the craft person who is emerging into markets or galleries, i believe a review by peers who are attempting the same markets would be helpful as in : that color mug doesn't sell well for me , or casseroles do better w a motif. I have many times heard these comments here. Those comments coupled w real life experience will guide the maker to a place where they can continue their journey . The person who carries a torch for creating art pieces, or perfecting yunomis, or whatever ,cannot not truly be "critiqued" because they are going into a rarified realm. Some one of the same caliber can debate merits of this point vs that, but to us mere mortals, we either get it or not. Our in put is not really helpful, just encouraging or discouraging.

Chris , in response to only critiquing some ones art favorably, I am only talking about art here, not craft, and i make that distinction because the two can be combined but until they are, they are very different . People have put urinals up on the wall, installed in museums( I am sure many a man has wondered...), and it is art. It might not say anything to me, but the artist believed in it, and so did the museum. What i am to critique? It's placement? I could try to denounce it's meaning, but to what purpose? I could say that if the piss was left in it... My point is art is art, and what makes art successful is a je ne sais quoi , a mystery and in all likelihood , the stars aligning. I can say it isnt to my taste, or that i don't like the perceived message, etc, but in the end i am only enlightening everyone to my tastes, not really contributing to the perception of the artist. I can say why I like some one work, what it does for me. Me writing those words, can influence someone to seek out the artists work. Or give the artist a pat on the back. I am originally from nyc, and reviews are useful there because to go to anything is money and time. But if the reviewer is petty, it can break a career, a production so it is not lightly done, and reviewers will have to have proven themselves. 

What i think you are referring to in the second statement is an art historian. While some will put their opinion in the text, most leave their adoration in the prologue or afterword, because who would spend the huge amount of time learning and writing about something they hated in the art world. Most historians relish their subject.

In another forum there is a critiquing section, and people really do help figure out what is wrong /right w a painting. it is very helpful,nobody gets mean. There are true beginner , in every sense of the meaning, and others who are professionals who sell, although those do a lot more of the actual critiquing. 
I would love something like that here, a place to have all of you spend time saying what is next. How helpful! but I am fairly thick skinned, and absolutely every one here has advice i need.

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.......... If they do their job well and pick wisely, they play a valuable role in the art worldâ€.

 

 

 

I struggle with understanding most art.  I am not an artist, but can create stuff in many mediums.  A critic who describes something or explains what was in the artists mind is (maybe) worth having.  A critic who criticises or puts personal views into their critique is unhelpful.

 

I also feel there is a difference between critiquing functional and non-functional art.  If something is functional, (to me) it must suit it's purpose.  We used to go to a woodworking show every year, I can't believe the "modern" style of chairs that appeared there.  My back hurt just thinking about sitting on them.

 

So, yes, "if they do their job well....." they are worth having.

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