Understanding Fine Art Criticism: Types, Stages

Criticism of Fine Art – If we talk about fine art, surely Reader knows that it will not be far away from the exhibition and appreciation of art? Yes, it is true, through this exhibition, we will later be shown how the result of a work of art is at the same time an event for self-existence. Indeed, basically, a work of art is something created so that a beautiful feeling arises when people see or hear it, but is it just beautiful?

Moreover, the definition of “beautiful” according to people is different, especially when observing a work of art. Well, that’s what caused the emergence of a criticism of fine art. So, what is the criticism of the artwork? Will the criticism of this work of art be concerned with those art critics? Who are the art critics in our country? Well, for Reader to understand those things, let’s read the following review!

Definition of Art Criticism

Criticism is not only given to literary works, you know , but also to fine art works. Indeed, in theory, to give criticism to a work of art requires insight or understanding of the intricacies of the work of art, both verbal and written. So, the criticism of the artwork is not just given  Not many people know that the existence of this criticism also contributes to the development of a work of art. In fact, it is not uncommon to be able to influence and change someone’s style in creating a work of art.

The term “criticism” comes from the Greek language, namely ‘kriticos’ which means ‘to observe, compare, separate, and weigh’. Meanwhile, in the Encyclopedia of World Art, literary criticism is a process that leads to a qualitative ‘judgement’ on the existence of a work of art. Another definition of literary criticism is also mentioned by Sem. C. Bangun who states that art criticism is a serious study activity on the existence of a work of art. Well, from some of these definitions, it can be concluded that,

“Art criticism is the activity of responding to a work of art to show the advantages and disadvantages of a work of art.”

These disadvantages and advantages can be related to various aspects. When it comes to fine art, it usually concerns the material aspect that shows the quality of a work of art. Along with the development of the times and society’s understanding of works of art, the activities of art criticism can also fulfill various other social functions. Not infrequently, the existence of criticism of this artwork can improve the quality of understanding and appreciation of a fine art, so that it can later be used as a standard to improve the quality of the process and results of a fine art.

Another thing that is not realized is that if the criticism of this work of art is delivered by a renowned critic, it can influence the existing perception of the quality of a work of art, so that it will also affect its economic value.

Must Have Skills

  1. Absorptive ability, namely the ability to observe.
  2. Retentive ability, which is the ability to remember and reproduce.
  3. Reasoning ability, namely the ability to analyze and consider.
  4. Creative ability, ie the ability to imagine, interpret, and present ideas.

Form of Presentation of Fine Arts Criticism

Basically, a critique of this work of art can be delivered to the community in the form of:

  1. Verbally, that is in the form of criticism delivered orally. For example with discussion activities or art seminars.
  2. In writing, that is in the form of criticism delivered in written form. For example through mass media, magazines, social media, and others.

Types of Fine Art Criticism

Based on its function

In the book Art As Image and Idea (1967) written by the American critic Feldman, a criticism of a work of art can be divided into 4 types based on function. Well, here is the description.

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1. Journalistic Criticism

The first type of art criticism is Journalistic Criticism, which is art criticism where the results of the evaluation are presented openly to the public. Usually through mass media, especially newspapers. The things that are criticized are not only works of art, but also the exhibition activities.

This type of art criticism is almost the same as popular criticism, but the assessment is more detailed and sharp. Regarding its delivery through the mass media, it will affect the public’s perception of the quality of a work of art that is being discussed. Characteristics of journalistic criticism:

  • Written for newspaper readers.
  • Not much confiscate the news column in the newspaper.
  • Limited writing time.
  • Only as news.

2. Popular Criticism

Almost the same as the criticism of journalists which are equally intended for public consumption. However, in popular criticism this is general so it focuses more on the introduction or publication of a work of art. The style of language used is easier to understand by the general public because it uses simple terms.

Not infrequently, the writing of this popular criticism is made by writers who do not have critical expertise in the world of art. Here are the characteristics of popular criticism:

  • Can be written by a general writer.
  • Seeing the reality that is developing in society.
  • The language is easy to digest and simpler.

3. Criticism of Education (Pedagogy)

Educational criticism alias pedagogy is a critical activity that aims to increase artistic sensitivity and aesthetics as a process of learning art. It is usually used in art education institutions, so that it can directly improve the quality of artwork from its students. If applied in public school education institutions, then it is held in art subjects.

Characteristics of educational (pedagogical) criticism:

  • Responsive nature.
  • There is a standard form of value.
  • Done in an educational institution environment.
  • There is freedom of discussion.

4. Scientific Criticism (Scientific)

The next type of criticism of fine art is scientific criticism alias scientific, which is a type of criticism that is academic in nature so that it requires insight, knowledge, ability, and high sensitivity to evaluate a work of art. It is usually delivered by a critic who is already an expert in the field of art and should follow the methodology of academic criticism.

Later, the results of this scientific criticism will be used as a reference for collectors or curators of art institutions, such as those in galleries, museums, and auction houses. Characteristics of scientific criticism:

  • Apply certain methodologies or rules in criticizing.
  • The results are not absolute.
  • Scientific in nature.
  • Developed by researchers in a neutral and fair manner.

Based on the starting point

Still similar to what Feldman delivered, criticism of fine art also has types based on its point of departure.

1. Expressivist Criticism

Through the expressionistic approach applied in the criticism of this fine art work, the critic tends to evaluate and respond to the quality of the ideas and feelings that the artist wants to communicate through his artwork. The activity can be in the form of responding to the relationship between the title, theme, content, and visualization of objects featured in a work of art.

2. Formalistic Criticism

Through this formalistic approach, the study of art criticism will be aimed at artworks as a configuration of formal aspects. In short, related to the elements of its formation. For example, in a work of art painting, the target of criticism will be more likely to focus on visual elements, namely color, line, texture, and others.

In this type of criticism will also discuss the quality of techniques and materials used in fine art works.

3. Instrumentalistic Criticism

Through an instrumentalistic approach, later a work of art will be criticized based on its ability to achieve goals, moral, religious, political, and psychological. In this type of criticism, it is not too questioning the formal quality of the art work, but rather looking at the aspect of the context, both now and in the past.

For example, in the painting “The Capture of Prince Diponegoro” by Raden Saleh, it is not criticized based on its technical quality, but also the connection between the object, content, theme, purpose, and moral message that the painter wants to convey.

Stages in Fine Art Criticism

As has been written before, in making a critique of the art work it cannot be arbitrary. Must go through several stages first. Well, the following are the general stages that must be done before compiling a critique of a work of art.

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1. Description

The first stage is description in the form of finding, recording, and describing everything that is seen as it is. Well, in order for this stage to go well, the critic must understand and know the general terms that are often used in the art world. Without that understanding, critics have difficulty describing what they see.

2. Formal Analysis

The second stage is formal analysis in the form of tracing a work of art based on its formal structure or constituent elements. At this level, the critic must understand the elements as well as the principles of arrangement in fine arts.

3. Interpretation

The third level is interpretation in the form of interpreting the meaning of a work of art. Covers themes highlighted, symbols presented, other issues. This stage is open and influenced by the point of view and insight of the critic. The wider his vision, the richer the interpretation of the meaning he criticizes.

4. Evaluation or Assessment

The last stage is the evaluation alias evaluation which is in the form of determining the quality of a work of art when compared to other works of art of the same type. Comparisons will be made with various aspects, both formal aspects and context aspects. Well, in this stage usually use steps in the form of:

  1. Relating as many works of art to be evaluated as possible with similar works of art.
  2. Determine the purpose or function of the artwork to be examined.
  3. Determining the extent to which the artwork “deviates” from what has been there before.
  4. Examining works of art in terms of specific needs and the point of view behind them.

Function and Purpose

The compilation of criticism of fine art works is not done solely to “show off” the critic’s vision of the art world to the public. Many functions and purposes can be accepted through the criticism of this work of art.

The Function and Purpose of Fine Art Criticism

  1. Bridging artistic perception and appreciation as well as aesthetics in works of art. Usually, between art creators and art connoisseurs.
  2. For art creators, this criticism can be feedback to reflect on their expressive communication.
  3. Creating a point of view on the interpretation of works of art.
  4. Make it easier for the general public to understand what the content of the artwork is.
  5. As a form of appreciation for works of art.
  6. As an evaluation activity on the statement of good and bad values ​​with the context of fine art.
  7. Gaining satisfaction in discussing works of art.

Understanding What an Art Critic Is

Previously, Reader had encountered the word “critic” several times. However, does Reader know what a critic is in the art world?

An art critic is someone who criticizes a work of art belonging to others or his own (self-critic). Ideally, an art critic should have sharp senses, thoughts and feelings in a work of art. Well, the sharpness of the senses goes into the ability of reasoning and creativity…

Just a little trivia, an art critic must also understand various theories, starting from the theory of art science, philosophy of art, elements of art, anthropology of art, sociology of art, to the review of modern and contemporary art. Later, those theories are used to strengthen the construction of the criticism so that it is more objective.

Not only theory, an art critic must also have experience and association in terms of observing, researching, and comparing a work of art. The experience will also later be very helpful in enriching critical insight. Another thing that an art critic should pay attention to is how to understand the artist’s thoughts and feelings. Even the biography and life of the artist of the work of art will not escape the observation of an art critic.

When an art critic delivers his criticism in written form, then the medium of criticism is language. The language used is of course effective and communicative, both when delivered orally and in writing. The meaning of effective language refers to aspects of grammar that are good and correct, appropriately used, and in accordance with the public target. Meanwhile, the meaning of communicative language is that the language is easily understood by readers or listeners, according to their intellectual level.