Rise of the critic, fall of Art.

In previous posts I have lamented the loss of direction, purpose, and even meaning that I see in Art. This is attributable to the rise of the “critic”. When appreciation passed from the patron, the one actually paying for it, and the public, over to the professional critic the purpose and meaning of Art got lost. Hijacked is maybe a better term.

From pre-history until the 18th century, practically, art was commissioned by a form of patron. This might be the church, a guild, or the portrait sitter, nobility or otherwise. Then in 1648 with Cardinal Richelieu’s founding of the Academy of Painting and Sculpture (Academie de peinture et de sculpture), in Paris, the taste of art started to shift and come under the influence of “official” critics. These at first were peers, working artists, but as their “responsibilities ” pulled them away from creation into teaching, administration, and production of art, ie. the studio factory, the Academy masters became gatekeepers holding up the status quo as the epitome of expression. Until by the latter 19th century appreciation is dictated by the “critic” who either has no particular experience in the medium, or is a failed practitioner. The critics lack of perception and support of the status quo thus dismisses and derides a new window of communication being opened by artists like Degas and Manet.


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