So this blog is going to be combining both readings we did into one since it was in the same book and by the same author. Plus, I felt that I got a lot of gratification by reading both so here it goes!
Honestly, with this reading, I felt like I was reading nothing but excuses that critics were dishing out in order to support their laziness. I do agree with the author, evaluative criticism is a must. Just saying something is good or bad is just an opinion and cannot be seen through just one person’s eyes. However, as I was reading, I noticed, especially when she quoted Danto about why he doesn’t do evaluative criticism then corrected him to say that he in fact does it, that there seems to be either a misconception or uncharacterization of what exactly ‘evaluative criticism’ is in the field. In Danto’s case, he does it without realizing while others see it as a waste of time, when in my opinion, it can open so many other doors. This affirmed to me as to why the author only wants to emphasize what it is instead of introducing a new method or theory to the field.
I applaud the author for giving a clear cut definition as to what ‘criticism’ is as a whole (“…a person who engages in the reasoned evaluation of artworks”) then followed up with what isn’t critic (“…I shall not counts as a critic the pundit [I lol’d] who simply pronounces this or that to be good or bad.”). As I said before, people have their own opinions about a work, but to me, a critic looks deeper into the work that we as viewers cannot, will not, or have no desire to. Viewers only look at the top layer of things, dismiss them as ‘good/bad, happy/sad, or beautiful/ugly’, yet it seems to me that if ‘critics’ do not wish to give constructive evaluations, then it is implied to me that they are no more than viewers with a fancy name. It takes the real work of a critic to take off that top layer then dig deep using the artist’s background information or stance in the political or artist world and see what they are trying to contribute to the field.
So why is it that critics don’t do evaluative criticism? Obviously it has great value to the field so why aren’t they actually putting it into practice? When I asked these questions, I thought the answer I would receive would be something on the lines of, “There are better and more effective methods” or “that method is outdated and if it is to be used again, it must be updated”. Instead, I read nothing but what I considered lame excuses by critics. “…not a part of his job description”, “…the least interesting part of the job”, or “…does not like to sit in judgment over others.” The two first excuses are contradictory. One says it’s ‘part of the job’ yet another is saying ‘not a part of the job’. It doesn’t matter if it’s a part of the job or not, your job is it to offer insight using your expertise and help to make an idea better in accordance to your field. Webster defines a ‘critic’ as:
“one who expresses a reasoned opinion on any matter especially involving a judgment of its value, truth, righteousness, beauty, or technique”
And what do you know? One of the synonyms for a critic is ‘evaluator’. So do your job! And in regards to the critics, who talks of sitting in judgment and it being mean-spirited, oh well, grow up. Whether you like it or not, people constantly judge things influx every single day. From the judging the safeness of the car you drive to the safety of the food you eat. If things are not judge they cannot be better or do the world good.
Another rejection that irritated me was the fact that it is the curator’s job to do the evaluative criticism. No, a curator only oversees and brings in works of art for a museum. There’s nothing in their job description about doing this. And even if we were playing the job association game, a curator cannot do this job, because they’re already somewhat biased because they have to decide what’s good enough to come into their museums. If they decide this, then clearly, they cannot look at things for what they are aside from the beauty. A critic does not just focus on the aesthetics, they focus on the meaning, the value, the lessons that the artwork brings.
Then the notion of art having no rules therefore an evaluative criticism is not necessary. This is a seriously weak notion. A person committing a murder has no type of structures or rules as to how to go about doing so. All they have is the burning desire to do so and not get caught, but there is common sense as to how to do it and how to dodge the law. ‘Don’t commit the crime in public’, ‘Hide the body’, ‘No fingerprints’, ‘No witnesses’, etc. How do they know if they do it well? If the police officer doesn’t provide his ‘critic’ of it but let’s be realistic, is there such a thing as a perfect murder just like there is a perfect artwork? No. There are holes that only critics can fill and inform to the artist about, yet if they do not do so with evaluative criticism, the artist cannot get better and do better work thus hurting them more.
A critic in my opinion is the voice for the audience. The critic speaks to the artist in a way where they can see what the artist is trying to convey and let’s them know if the audience will be able to get that conveyance when they see the artwork. A critic that does not offer evaluative criticism is no better than a person who’s mute. You’re not speaking anything vital, your words are empty. Critics need to stop with the whining antics and realize that even if it’s not in your job description, you should want to do so because it makes you a better critic if you can assist an artist to become better.