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Who’s Here Now?

On becoming an art critic

The art critic is one of the most sought after persons in this creative field. For one, its always good to have someone to bounce your ideas on, gain qualified feedback or just for pre-sharing. On the other hand, critics sometimes reflect the views of the public or potential client, and at times act as a yardstick to measure the presented work against standards that he/she should be well familiar with. This career choice is a matter of skill – albeit trained skill. The critic must be knowledgeable of elements such as the techniques, language, style, perspective, perception. At the same time he/she must be able to see as the artists, and beyond the artist, to make sound and balanced judgement, after accurate interpretations. In the end benefitting artists, whether performing of visual benefit and garner great financial rewards. In brief critiquing art calls for four stages:

1. DESCRIPTION:

In your own words tell a tale of what you see: Include… a. The name of the artist who created the artwork b. The kind of an artwork is it c. The name of the artwork d. Date of creation e. Name and relate other major events in history that occurred at the same time this artwork was created. f. List the literal or recognised objects in the painting (trees, people, animals, mountains, rivers, etc.). g. Whatever it is that you notice at first sight? Why? h. The colours used, their hues, applications i. The recognised shapes, their structure, texture, edges, outline j. The recognised lines and types k. The textures l. The connotated time of day m. The overall visual effect or mood of the work

2. ANALYSE:

Mentally process the different elements, chiefly the textures, shapes or forms, colours whether light/dark or bright/dull, types of lines, and sensory qualities. Give diligent consideration to the most significant art principles applied. Describe how the artist uses them to organize and balance the elements, and then weigh the balance of outcome. Include: a. The artist usage of colour b. The achieved effect, usage, application of the elements, especially in achieving the message or expressing vision c. The artist‘s usage of shapes d. The usage of lines: How critical or dominant are they e. The role and significance of applied texture, illusion of texture or actual texture f. The usage of light, the created illusions or abstrascted use of lights and shadows g. The usage of art and principles of design to achieve the overall visual effect or mood of the work. h. The artist‘s control or manipulation of design tools and success in obtaining particular look or focus i. Is there a story, thought, vision borne out

3. INTERPRETATION:

Here you must apply your training, experience, expertise and factual knowledge in translating in your own thoughts and words the artwork set before you. Include: a. The statement of the artist through the work b. Possible interpretations of the message and/or artwork c. Your own view or extracted meaning d. The relation of the artwork to any of your personal experiences or general experiences, events, messages e. The feeleings, moods caused by the work f. Alll possible representations of the work g. The possible rationale of the style, theme, choice etc. of the artist h. Possible reason and purpose for doing the artwork

4. JUDGEMENT:

After careful observation, analysis, and interpretation of an artwork, you now must make your own judgment. This is your personal evaluation based on your understanding and measurements. You must also evaluate the success of the work against the aim, objective. Include: a. The value, intrinsic and otherwise if any of the work (QUESTIONS INCLUDE: Is it is a beautiful work of art; does it convey an important message, social, political, philosophical, historical, cultural, or otherwise; does it affect one’s view of the world; has it made insightful connections, does it reaffirm a religious belief, etc.) b. The possible benefit of the artwork c. The effectiveness of the communication of ideas, vision process d. The feeling or principle that would have value e. Possible effects on others, noticed, observed, predicted d. The value, or lack of value or worth. Give reason such as poor use of the elements of art? e. Critically evaluate usage of subject matter and note whether it has been used in a way that’s unappealing, unimaginative, or repulsive or positively advantageous e. Test the imapct on a scale or balance from poor to strong, weak to creative. f. Be a critical thinker, and be equally frank. g. State grounds for your views, or expressed opinion, facts and otherwise h. Identify interaction or connective nature i. Is there a focus and does it work effectively j. Is the work personal or general k. Explore your criticism of the work (s) as much as you would any positive perceptions, and WITHOUT BIAS. l. Offer all sides, regardless of your personal opionions, likes, dislikes, preferencess m. BE PROFESSIONAL. BE FAIR Give your positive and negative perceptions. n. REMEMBER: The goose and the gander, the cow and the bull even the male and the female human have differences in taste

SALARY OF AN ART CRITIC:

Most art critics work on a part time basis, with some being found in mainstream media. According to National Arts Journalism Research “Only about a dozen art critics in mainstream news publications in America earn over US$75,000 from their criticism. Over one-third of newspaper art critics (38 percent) and nearly two-thirds of alternative weekly critics (64 percent) earn less than US$15,000 a year from art criticism.” In Jamaica, pricing can start from JA$5,000 on the low end and JA$20,000 on the high end, and, additionally is influenced by factors such as nature, year, time needed, size, detail.

This article gives guidline to both upcoming art critics, and artists who needs work to be critiqued and/or assessed.

Anthea McGibbon is an arts and communication consultant. Her website www.antheamcgibbon.com
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