Assessment: What Makes For The Best Arts Criticism? A Comparison Between Noël Carol And Edith Wharton

802 words - 4 pages

Arts criticism is the verbal or written discourse about works and/or movements of fine art. To develop this criticism, one would need to evaluate the work of art, and then make a judgment call about it. But what exactly makes for great arts criticism? Surely an amateur freshman just starting out an arts criticism class can’t facilitate a discussion about a work of art to the same caliber as experts such as Noël Carrol and Edith Wharton. Despite living nearly a century apart, both provide similar insights on what arts criticism entails and should accomplish. However, because Carrol specifically outlines the operations of criticism, as well as the importance of making a value judgment, his perspective on arts criticism is a stronger and more educational perspective than Wharton’s.
Though criticism has taken on a negative connotation in the English language, and artists can fear or reject it, criticism is not inherently bad. In fact, both Wharton and Carrol claim that positive and negative (constructive) criticisms are beneficial to the artist and their audience. According to Wharton, artists use professional criticism to see how others may perceive their work. By obtaining that secondary viewpoint, the artist can use the critic’s educated analysis to improve a specific work or their art in general (Wharton, 42). In addition, a critic’s interpretation of a work of art is perfect for determining how off-centered their intended outcome for the work is, and what to refine in order to convey their message clearer in the next iteration or masterpiece. Regarding the audience, Carrol supports by asserting that, “The common reader expects guidance from the critic concerning what is worthy in an artwork” (Carrol 14). As oftentimes the audience is not necessarily an expert in the art form that they want to consume, a good critic can help educate them on the nuances and finer points, and direct their attention so that they can experience the fullest appreciation of the work. For both parties, a critic’s evaluation of a work of art is an invaluable tool for improving their understanding of the work.
In addition to agreeing on the benefits of criticism for the artist and their audience, Carrol and Wharton also concur in the level of expertise that a critic should have before they are able to create “good,” meaningful criticism. Wharton specifically calls out the requirement to be disciplined in “his subject,...

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