Things I Might Conclude About Art Criticism

Monkeys as Judges of Art (1889) by Gabriel Cornelius von Max

1. Criticism is being involved

2. Criticism is an offering

3. Criticism is “a genre unto itself”1

4. Criticism “is crises”2

5. Criticism is generosity

6. Criticism is looking at a work of art long enough for it to speak to you

7. Criticism tries to negate that art is an it

8. Criticism says, forge clarity out of language

9. Criticism is like romance, all the highs and lows

10. Criticism is disassembling a subject and failing to couple it together

11. Criticism has no language

12. Criticism will make you enemies, maybe friends

13. Criticism may not save the world

14. Criticism is looking

15. Criticism is negotiating balance

16. Criticism asks: have I been honest with you?

17. Criticism is taking the parts out of the whole

18. Criticism makes you stop, like poetry

19. Criticism is writing with your heart

20. Criticism takes a stand

21. Criticism might be a moral compass

22. Criticism does not know the future but can predict it

23. Criticism sometimes begins with anger

24. Criticism sometimes begins with laughter

25. Criticism deals with “the futility of a gaze that arrives too late.”3

26. Criticism must not be a language-game

27. Criticism must not “forget about grammar and think about potatoes.”4

28. Criticism admits “that sentences are often used on the borderline between logic and the empirical, so that their meaning shifts back and forth and they are now expressions of norms, now treated as expressions of experience…”5

29. Criticism sometimes takes the reader for granted

30. Criticism sometimes assumes there is no reader

31. Criticism knows that “all art is meaningless to those for whom life itself is merely a spectacle”6 so it deals with meaninglessness and the spectacular

32. Criticism is not advice

33. Criticism is finding happiness

1. Walter Benjamin

2. David Levi Strauss

3. Alfredo Jaar

4. Gertrude Stein

5. Ludwig Wittgenstein

6. John Berger

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Emmanuel Iduma​ was born and raised in Nigeria. Emmanuel is the author of The Sound of Things to Come. He received an MFA in art criticism and writing from the School of Visual Arts, New York.