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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. 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. Very rarely art critics earn their living from writing criticism.
The opinions of art critics has 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 utilize 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 movements — Roger Fry with the Post-Impressionist movement, Lawrence Alloway with Pop Art, R. Siva Kumar with Contextual Modernism as examples.
According to James Elkins 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. 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.
Some famous art critics
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.
- , from the Tate, retrieved April 12, 2009
- James Elkins, What happened to art criticism, Prickley Paradigm Press, 2003, p. 8.
- Website of the International Association of Art Critics http://www.aica-int.org/spip.php?article3.
- James Elkins, Introduction in Is Art History Global?, dir. James Elkins, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2007, pp. 5-15.
- An experience-related article is Agnieszka Gratza, Frieze or faculty? One art critic's move from academia to journalism in The Guardian, 17/10/2013.
- . James Elkins, What happened to art criticism, Prickley Paradigm Press, 2003, pp. 4-5 and p. 9.
- Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, French Eighteenth-Century Painters. Cornell Paperbacks, 1981, pp.222–225. ISBN 0-8014-9218-1
- Joanna Richardson, Baudelaire, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1994, p. 191, ISBN 0-312-11476-1.
- J'accuse letter at wikisource
- IAN CHILVERS. "Fry, Roger." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. 9 Mar. 2009 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.Retrieved 9 March 2009
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- Good audio version of symposium on contemporary (2007) art criticism entitled "Empathy and Criticality," sponsored by the Frieze Foundation