Critics have a responsibility to establish standards by which works of art can be judged.

Essay by guaixiong February 2004

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Art critics are divided into two camps with regard to evaluation of their own work. Some insist that, since art is such an subjective form of creativity, it is hard to define any objective standards for evaluation. Those from the other camp, however, hold strong belief that, no matter how diviated the motives of art are and their representations, there must be some objective standards that can be applied to evaluate art works. If we examine closely what art critics do, we are likely to incline to the former point of view.

As well known to all, the creation of an art work is mainly the subjective representation of the emotion, observation, values and tastes of the artist. What is less recognized is that, in fact, the examining and reviewing process of an art work, as what is done by art critics, is also a highly subjective procedure. The appreciation and analysis are inevitably influenced by the same factors of the critics.

Whether a painting emotionally congenial to the critic? Have he/she got the original meaning the artist wants to convey through observation? Does his/her cultural background allows him/her to freely probe the intricacy of the work? Answers to such questions largely decide the evaluation of the critic to the art work. It is impossible for artists themselves to explain every detail that is abundant with inspiration and this is left to critics. Therefore, by reviewing the art works, art critics are, to some extent, rebuilding it in their own way.

When we evaluate the works of scientists and technicians, things are somewhat easier due to the often definite purpose of the work. For example, whether the new vehicle is good relies a lot on its possible speed, security, fuel efficiency and other clear categoies. A lately establishment of...