Remarks on the State of Art Criticism
13 December 2010, Tate Britain
Art criticism is very widely practised, and very poorly understood. There is little agreement on its purpose or function, its relation to art history and theory, whether it should judge art or describe it, or how its history should be told. This talk surveys the fundamental issues, and considers four recent attempts to theorise art criticism: the October art criticism round table; the book States of Art Criticism; the Beijing Contemporary Art Forum on art criticism; and the Columbia ‘Arts Journalism’ survey of art critics. The lecture concludes with an informal listing of unresolved questions in art criticism.
James Elkins is E.C. Chadbourne Chair of the Department of Art History, Theory and Criticism, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; His writing focuses on the history and theory of images in art, science and nature. The State of Art Criticism, co-edited with Michael Newman, was published by Routledge 2008.
Listen below to an audio recording of Elkins’s talk: