ARTH 567
What is Art Criticism? Current Debates, Past Precedents Fall 2016
Division I
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Taking as its point of departure recent debates concerning a purported “crisis” of art-criticism, this seminar considers traditions of writing about the work of living artists in modernity. We will begin with current literature and then pivot back to the eighteenth century, tracing a sequence of episodes in art criticism’s evolution as a genre by looking at key works of art as mediated by their first critics. Emphasis will be placed on close readings of primary historical texts as prompts for thinking through the following broad questions, among others: What is critique, and what is art criticism? Is the art critic a judge, a historian, a partisan, a participant, or an artist in her own right? How do forms of distribution impact the content of art criticism, and how does art criticism impact the form and content of art? What is the relationship, if any, between taste, assessment of value, and interpretation of meaning? Artists considered include, among others, Boucher, Friedrich, Whistler, Seurat, Pollock, Piper.
The Class: Type: seminar
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: two short writing assignments, twenty page final paper
Distributions: Division I

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