Art critic

An art critic is a person who is specialized in analyzing, interpreting and evaluating art. Their written critiques or reviews contribute to art criticism and they are published in newspapers, magazines, books, exhibition brochures and catalogues and on web sites. Some of today's art critics use art blogs and other online platforms in order to connect with a wider audience and expand debate about art.

Differently from art history, there is not an institutionalized training for art critics (with only few exceptions); art critics come from different backgrounds and they may or may not be university trained.[2] Professional art critics are expected to have a keen eye for art and a thorough knowledge of art history. Typically the art critic views art at exhibitions, galleries, museums or artists' studios and they can be members of the International Association of Art Critics which has national sections.[3] Very rarely art critics earn their living from writing criticism.

The opinions of art critics have the potential to stir debate on art related topics. Due to this the viewpoints of art critics writing for art publications and newspapers adds to public discourse concerning art and culture. Art collectors and patrons often rely on the advice of such critics as a way to enhance their appreciation of the art they are viewing. Many now famous and celebrated artists were not recognized by the art critics of their time, often because their art was in a style not yet understood or favored. Conversely, some critics, have become particularly important helping to explain and promote new art movementsRoger Fry with the Post-Impressionist movement, Lawrence Alloway with Pop Art as examples.

John Ruskin 1870
John Ruskin (1819-1900), c.1870. Leo Tolstoy described Ruskin as, "one of those rare men who think with their heart." A champion of the work of J.M.W. Turner, Ruskin detested the work of James McNeill Whistler[1]


According to James Elkins[4] there is a distinction between art criticism and art history based on institutional, contextual and commercial criteria; the history of art criticism is taught in universities, but the practice of art criticism is excluded institutionally from academia. An experience-related article is Agnieszka Gratza.[5] Always according to James Elkins in smaller and developing countries, newspaper art criticism normally serves as art history. James Elkins's perspective portraits his personal link to art history and art historians and in What happened to art criticism he furthermore highlights the gap between art historians and art critics by suggesting that the first rarely cite the second as a source and that the second miss an academic discipline to refer to.[6]


Portrait d'homme, anciennement portrait de Denis Diderot par Fragonard

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Portrait of Denis Diderot, 1769, Louvre, Paris. His art criticism was highly influential. His Essais sur la peinture was described by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, as "a magnificent work, which speaks even more helpfully to the poet than to the painter, though to the painter too it is as a blazing torch." Diderot's favorite painter was Jean-Baptiste Greuze.[7]

Charles Baudelaire 1855 Nadar

Charles Baudelaire 1855, Photo by Nadar. Baudelaire is associated with the Decadent movement. His book of poetry Les Fleurs du mal is acknowledged as a classic of French literature[8]

Zacharie Astruc

Édouard Manet, Portrait of Zacharie Astruc 1866, Kunsthalle Bremen. He was a strong defender of Gustave Courbet, and was one of the first to recognize the talent of Édouard Manet. He also defended Claude Monet, James McNeill Whistler, Carolus-Duran, Fantin-Latour, and Alphonse Legros.

Manet, Edouard - Portrait of Emile Zola

Édouard Manet, Portrait of Émile Zola, 1868, Musée d'Orsay. Émile Zola (1840-1902) was an influential French writer, and art critic. He was a major figure in the exoneration of the falsely accused and convicted army officer Alfred Dreyfus.[9]

Signac - Portrait de Félix Fénéon

Paul Signac, Félix Fénéon, 1890. A French anarchist and art critic in Paris during the late 1800s. He coined the term "Neo-impressionism" in 1886.

Guillaume Apollinaire 1914

Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918), 1914, French poet, writer and art critic he is credited with coining the word surrealism

Roger Fry self-portrait

Roger Fry Self-portrait, 1928. He was described by Kenneth Clark as "incomparably the greatest influence on taste since Ruskin... In so far as taste can be changed by one man, it was changed by Roger Fry".[10]

Leo Stein

Leo Stein (1872-1947), art collector/critic, elder brother of Gertrude Stein. Photo by Carl Van Vechten, November 9, 1937

Notable art critics

See also


  1. ^ "Turner Whistler Monet - Tate".
  2. ^ James Elkins, What happened to art criticism, Prickley Paradigm Press, 2003, p. 8.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-12. Retrieved 2013-12-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ James Elkins, Introduction in Is Art History Global?, dir. James Elkins, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2007, pp. 5-15.
  5. ^ Gratza, Agnieszka (17 October 2013). "Frieze or faculty? One art critic's move from academia to journalism". the Guardian.
  6. ^ . James Elkins, What happened to art criticism, Prickley Paradigm Press, 2003, pp. 4-5 and p. 9.
  7. ^ Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, French Eighteenth-Century Painters. Cornell Paperbacks, 1981, pp.222–225. ISBN 0-8014-9218-1
  8. ^ Joanna Richardson, Baudelaire, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1994, p. 191, ISBN 0-312-11476-1.
  9. ^ J'accuse letter at wikisource
  10. ^ IAN CHILVERS. "Fry, Roger." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists. 2003. 9 Mar. 2009 <>.Retrieved 9 March 2009

External links

Media related to Art critics at Wikimedia Commons

Arthur Danto

Arthur Coleman Danto (January 1, 1924 – October 25, 2013) was an American art critic and philosopher. He is best known for having been an influential, long-time art critic for The Nation and for his work in philosophical aesthetics and philosophy of history, though he contributed significantly to a number of fields, including the philosophy of action. His interests included thought, feeling, philosophy of art, theories of representation, philosophical psychology, Hegel's aesthetics, and the philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer.

Brian Sewell

Brian Sewell (; 15 July 1931 – 19 September 2015) was an English art critic and media personality. He wrote for the Evening Standard and was noted for his acerbic view of conceptual art and the Turner Prize. The Guardian described him as "Britain's most famous and controversial art critic", withArtnet News echoing this sentiment while the Standard called him the "nation’s best art critic",

Clement Greenberg

Clement Greenberg (), occasionally writing under the pseudonym K. Hardesh (January 16, 1909 – May 7, 1994), was an American essayist known mainly as an influential visual art critic closely associated with American Modern art of the mid-20th century. In particular, he is best remembered for his promotion of the abstract expressionist movement and was among the first published critics to praise the work of painter Jackson Pollock.

David Lee (art critic)

David Lee (born 1953) is an outspoken, English, contemporary, art critic—condemning conceptual art in general and the Turner Prize in particular. He publishes and edits The Jackdaw magazine, critical of the contemporary art world.

Hilton Kramer

Hilton Kramer (March 25, 1928 – March 27, 2012) was an American art critic and essayist.

Holland Cotter

Holland Cotter (born April 9, 1947) is an art critic with the New York Times. In 2009, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

Jerry Saltz

Jerry Saltz (born February 19, 1951) is an American art critic. Since 2006, he has been senior art critic and columnist for New York magazine. Formerly the senior art critic for The Village Voice, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2018 and was nominated for the award in 2001 and 2006. He has also contributed to Art in America, Flash Art International, Frieze, and Modern Painters, among other art publications. Saltz served as a visiting critic at The School of Visual Arts, Columbia University, Yale University, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the New York Studio Residency Program, and was the sole advisor for the 1995 Whitney Biennial.

Saltz is the recipient of three honorary doctorates, including from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2008 and Kansas City Art Institute in 2011.

Saltz has been a visiting critic at The School of Visual Arts, Columbia University, Yale University, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the New York Studio Residency Program.

John Berger

John Peter Berger (; 5 November 1926 – 2 January 2017) was an English art critic, novelist, painter and poet. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism, Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a BBC series, is often used as a university text. He lived in France for more than half a century.

John Russell (art critic)

John Russell CBE (22 January 1919 – 23 August 2008) was a British American art critic.

Ken Johnson (art critic)

Ken Johnson (born 1953 in Montclair, New Jersey) is an American art critic who lives in New York City. Johnson is a writer for the arts pages of The New York Times, where he covers gallery and museum exhibits.

Johnson attended Brown University and State University of New York at Albany, earning a degree in art from the former in 1976 and a master's degree in studio art, with a concentration in painting, from the latter in 1977. In his journalism career he has written on contemporary art for several art magazines, newspapers and publications. He published for the Art Review in the New York Times, doing reviews for artists in NYC such as Don Doe. He was the art critic for the Boston Globe from 2006-2007.He is also an educator, having taught courses in painting, drawing, electronic arts, art history, and art criticism at various universities in upstate New York. He teaches a writing seminar in the School of Visual Arts in art criticism and writing in New York.His book Are You Experienced? How psychedelic consciousness transformed modern art was published In June 2011.

Michael Fried

Michael Martin Fried (born April 12, 1939 in New York City) is a modernist art critic and art historian. He studied at Princeton University and Harvard University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Merton College, Oxford. He is currently the J.R. Herbert Boone Professor of Humanities and Art History at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States.

Fried's contribution to art historical discourse involved the debate over the origins and development of modernism. Along with Fried, this debate's interlocutors include other theorists and critics such as Clement Greenberg, T. J. Clark, and Rosalind Krauss. Since the early 1960s, he has also been close to philosopher Stanley Cavell.

Peter Frank (art critic)

Peter Frank (born 1950, New York) is an American art critic, curator, and poet who lives and works in Los Angeles. He was the Senior Curator at the Riverside Art Museum and an art critic for Angeleno magazine. He is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post. Until July 9, 2008, he was a long-time critic for LA Weekly. He was a past editor of Visions Art Quarterly and was an art critic for The Village Voice and The SoHo Weekly News in New York.

Frank contributes articles to numerous publications and has written many monographs and catalogs for one person and group exhibitions. He has organized many theme and survey shows for placement at institutions throughout the world. He has taught at colleges and universities and he has lectured all over North America and Europe. Frank received his B.A. and M.A. in art history from Columbia University.


Post-Impressionism (also spelled Postimpressionism) is a predominantly French art movement that developed roughly between 1886 and 1905, from the last Impressionist exhibition to the birth of Fauvism. Post-Impressionism emerged as a reaction against Impressionists' concern for the naturalistic depiction of light and colour. Due to its broad emphasis on abstract qualities or symbolic content, Post-Impressionism encompasses Les Nabis Neo-Impressionism, Symbolism, Cloisonnism, Pont-Aven School, and Synthetism, along with some later Impressionists' work. The movement was led by Paul Cézanne (known as father of Post-impressionism), Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat.The term Post-Impressionism was first used by art critic Roger Fry in 1906. Critic Frank Rutter in a review of the Salon d'Automne published in Art News, 15 October 1910, described Othon Friesz as a "post-impressionist leader"; there was also an advert for the show The Post-Impressionists of France. Three weeks later, Roger Fry used the term again when he organized the 1910 exhibition, Manet and the Post-Impressionists, defining it as the development of French art since Manet.

Post-Impressionists extended Impressionism while rejecting its limitations: they continued using vivid colours, often thick application of paint, and real-life subject matter, but were more inclined to emphasize geometric forms, distort form for expressive effect, and use unnatural or arbitrary colour.

Robert Hughes (critic)

Robert Studley Forrest Hughes AO (28 July 1938 – 6 August 2012) was an Australian-born art critic, writer, and producer of television documentaries. His best seller The Fatal Shore (1986) is a study of the British penal colonies and early history of Australia. He was described in 1997 by Robert Boynton of The New York Times as "the most famous art critic in the world."Hughes earned widespread recognition for his book and television series on modern art, The Shock of the New, and for his longstanding position as art critic with TIME magazine. Known for his contentious critiques of art and artists, Hughes was generally conservative in his tastes, although he did not belong to a particular philosophical camp. His writing was noted for its power and elegance.

Robert Melville (art critic)

Robert Melville (31 December 1905 - March 1986) was an English art critic and journalist. Along with the artists Conroy Maddox and John Melville (his brother), he was a key member of the Birmingham Surrealists in the 1930s and 1940s. An early biographer of Picasso, he later become the art correspondent of the New Statesman and the Architectural Review.

Roberta Smith

Roberta Smith (born 1947) is co-chief art critic of The New York Times and a lecturer on contemporary art. She is the first woman to hold that position.

Rodrigo Melo Franco

Rodrigo Melo Franco de Andrade (1898–1969) was a Brazilian art critic and historian. He served as director of preservation of artistic patrimony of Brazil at the Ministry of Education. He is credited, among many similar discoveries, with reviving interest in Antônio Francisco Lisboa. He is the author of Monumentos Históricos y Arqueológicos de Brasil (Mexico, 1952).

Stuart Morgan (art critic)

Stuart Morgan (25 January 1948 – 28 August 2002) was a Welsh art critic and editor.

Morgan "became known during the 1980s in Europe and the United States as the most significant British writer on contemporary art." He was an editor of Artscribe. He also published interviews with artists including Tracey Emin.

Women in the art history field

Women were professionally active in the academic discipline of art history already in the nineteenth century and participated in the important shift early in the century that began involving an "emphatically corporeal visual subject", with Vernon Lee as a notable example. It is argued that in the twentieth century women art historians (and curators), by choosing to study women artists, "dramatically" "increased their visibility". In fact, women art historians are one of two groups (besides authors of high-school texbooks) "who say there have been great women artists" in the first place, according to the authors of a study of the representations of women artists in US textbooks.

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