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%27homme, 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 F%C3%A9lix F%C3%A9n%C3%A9on

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.
  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

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