Art critic

Last updated
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 John Ruskin 1870.jpg
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

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 websites. 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.


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]

Notable art critics

See also

Related Research Articles

Édouard Manet 19th-century French painter

Édouard Manet was a French modernist painter. He was one of the first 19th-century artists to paint modern life, and a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism.

Salon des Refusés

The Salon des Refusés, French for "exhibition of rejects", is generally known as an exhibition of works rejected by the jury of the official Paris Salon, but the term is most famously used to refer to the Salon des Refusés of 1863.

Post-Impressionism Predominantly French art movement that developed roughly between 1886 and 1905

Post-Impressionism 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, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Georges Seurat.

Events from the year 1865 in art.

Events from the year 1868 in art.

<i>Le Déjeuner sur lherbe</i> Painting by Édouard Manet

Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe – originally titled Le Bain – is a large oil on canvas painting by Édouard Manet created in 1862 and 1863. It depicts a female nude and a scantily dressed female bather on a picnic with two fully dressed men in a rural setting. Rejected by the Salon jury of 1863, Manet seized the opportunity to exhibit this and two other paintings in the 1863 Salon des Refusés, where the painting sparked public notoriety and controversy. The work is now in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. A smaller, earlier version can be seen at the Courtauld Gallery, London.

Art criticism

Art criticism is the discussion or evaluation of visual art. Art critics usually criticize art in the context of aesthetics or the theory of beauty. A goal of art criticism is the pursuit of a rational basis for art appreciation but it is questionable whether such criticism can transcend prevailing socio-political circumstances.

Eva Gonzalès French painter

Eva Gonzalès was a French Impressionist painter.

Michael Martin Fried 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 the J.R. Herbert Boone Professor Emeritus of Humanities and Art History at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States.

<i>LŒuvre</i> Novel by Émile Zola

L'Œuvre is the fourteenth novel in the Rougon-Macquart series by Émile Zola. It was first serialized in the periodical Gil Blas beginning in December 1885 before being published in novel form by Charpentier in 1886.

<i>Music in the Tuileries</i>

Music in the Tuileries is an 1862 painting by Édouard Manet. It is owned by the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin where it currently hangs.

<i>The Spanish Singer</i>

The Spanish Singer is an 1860 oil painting on canvas by the French painter Édouard Manet, conserved since 1949 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York.

<i>Portrait of Emile Zola</i>

Portrait of Émile Zola is a painting of Émile Zola by Édouard Manet. Manet submitted the portrait to the 1868 Salon.

<i>In the Conservatory</i>

In the Conservatory is an 1879 oil painting by Édouard Manet in the Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, depicting Manet's friends, a couple, in a conservatory. There is an ambiguity in the painting that has led art critics to characterize the couple's relationship in divergent ways.

<i>Luncheon in the Studio</i> Painting by Édouard Manet

Luncheon in the Studio is an 1868 oil painting by Édouard Manet. Partially a portrait of 16-year-old Léon Leenhoff — the son of Suzanne Leenhoff before her 1863 marriage to Manet, and possibly the son of Manet or Manet's father Auguste — it is also an enigmatic work that has received limited attention within Manet's oeuvre. Critic Nan Stalnaker notes that "despite continued questions about its meaning, the work is acknowledged to be brilliantly painted and a major Manet work".

<i>The Absinthe Drinker</i> (Manet)

The Absinthe Drinker is an early painting by Édouard Manet, c.1859, considered to be his first major painting and first original work.

Grafton Galleries Art gallery in Mayfair, London

The Grafton Galleries, often referred to as the Grafton Gallery, was an art gallery in Mayfair, London. The French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel showed the first major exhibition in Britain of Impressionist paintings there in 1905. Roger Fry's two famous exhibitions of Post-Impressionist works in 1910 and 1912 were both held at the gallery.

<i>Lise</i> (Renoir)

Lise, also known as Lise with a Parasol, is an oil-on-canvas painting by the French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, created in 1867 during his early Salon period. The full-length painting depicts model Lise Tréhot posing in a forest. She wears a white muslin dress and holds a black lace parasol to shade her from the sunlight, which filters down through the leaves, contrasting her face in the shadow and her body in the light, highlighting her dress rather than her face. After having several paintings rejected by the Salon, Renoir's Lise was finally accepted and exhibited in May 1868.

Prostitution in Impressionist painting was a common subject in the art of the period. Prostitution was a very widespread phenomenon in nineteenth-century Paris and although an accepted practice among the nineteenth century bourgeoisie, it was nevertheless a topic that remained largely taboo in polite society. As a result, Impressionist works depicting the prostitute often became the subject of scandal, and particularly venomous criticism. Some works showed her with considerable sympathy, while others attempted to impart an agency to her; likewise some work showed high-class courtesans, and others prostitutes awaiting clients on the streets. In addition to the sexual revulsion/attraction the figure of the prostitute stirred, she functioned as a sign of modernity, a clear sign of the entanglement of sex, class, power and money.


  1. "Turner Whistler Monet". Tate. Archived from the original on 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
  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, 9.
  7. Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, French Eighteenth-Century Painters. Cornell Paperbacks, 1981, pp. 222–225. ISBN   0-8014-9218-1
  8. Dickson, Harold Edward (1943). Observations on American Art: Selections from the Writings of John Neal (1793–1876). State College, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State College. p. ix.
  9. Sears, Donald A. (1978). John Neal. Boston, Massachusetts: Twayne Publishers. p. 118. ISBN   080-5-7723-08.
  10. Joanna Richardson, Baudelaire, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1994, p. 191, ISBN   0-312-11476-1.
  11. J'accuse letter at French wikisource
  12. Lunn, Margaret Rauschenbach (15 October 1982). "G.-Albert Aurier, Critic and Theorist of Symbolist Art" (PDF) (PhD thesis). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2011.
  13. Bell, Arthur Clive Heward - Oxford Reference. 2006. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199754694.001.0001. ISBN   9780199754694 . Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  14. Ian Chilvers, ed. (1990). "Fry, Roger" . The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. p. 169.
  15. , Refurbished Reputation for a Nervy Painter.
  16. From "A Short Chronology", in Donald Allen: The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara.
  17. This theory has been described as an "influential theory about the nature of art", according to Philosophy Now, November 2013
  18. "John Berger obituary". The Guardian. 2 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  19. "I think the dead are with us": John Berger at 88". The New Statesman. 11 June 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2017.