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Art Critics – Don’t take their word as gospel

Art Critics wield the power to make or break an artist’s career. Collectors and gallery owners hang off every word they say, but why?

Why should one person’s opinion hold such authority? Especially as these self-titled ‘specialists’ have got it wrong so many times.

Today we thought we’d air our opinions on these so-called experts, and it all began with an episode of Masterchef…

It’s just one person’s opinion

Now Masterchef may seem a strange starting point for this article but let us explain. At certain points during the competition they invite food ‘critics’ to taste the competitor’s creations and give their authoritative opinions. And the result… more often than not is a heated disagreement!

And there lies the problem.

One plate of food, and three experts who all hold differing opinions.

It's fascinating how often these critics disagree over the same plate of food
It’s fascinating how often these critics disagree over the same plate of food

Now imagine investing vast amounts of money, blood, sweat and tears in opening up your dream restaurant to find out a ‘critic’ intends on visiting your new establishment. If that critic decides they don’t like your food combinations, style or décor it could mean waving goodbye to your dreams and yet that’s just one person’s opinion. Maybe if a different critic arrived the reviews would be more favourable?

The art world, we believe is the same. Many artists careers have been jet propelled by a rave review and conversely others shot down in flames by negative comments.

But why do so many hang on every word they say?

Art is so subjective and personal. It has the emotive power to make people react in a variety of ways and yet art critics swan from gallery to gallery assuming they speak on behalf of everyone else.

Surely the decision on what’s regarded as ‘good’ art lies with every individual who views it. We all have differing tastes and not just when it comes to art, but in music, fashion, movies… everything!

Art Critics can get it famously wrong

Throughout history there have always been art critics. Some, famously scathed artists who went on to be the most highly collectable in the world…

The most famous, and probably the saddest story of them all, is Vincent Van Gogh. His work was regarded by many of these so-called art critics as amateur. During his lifetime he only ever sold one painting for the measly sum of 400 Francs and yet his work sells for millions and hangs in the most prestigious art galleries.

One of Van Gogh's most famous paintings 'Sunflowers' sold for almost $40 million
One of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings ‘Sunflowers’ sold for almost $40 million

The legendary pop-art pioneer Andy Warhol was also shunned by critics. As a result, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York actually returned a piece of his work which he had kindly donated. Ironically the piece in question titled ‘Shoe’ plus over 160 others now hang at MOMA.

Art critics did not believe Andy Warhol's work should be considered art
Art critics did not believe Andy Warhol’s work should be considered art

There are many other artists, from Picasso, Monet, and Turner to Duchamp, all who had to endure criticism from these experts, and all who’s work sells for millions.

The bottom line is, there will always be art critics, and they will assume we should take their word as gospel but as we discussed before… why?

We know what we like and don’t like. We know what makes us smile and we know when something is incredible enough to spend our hard-earned money on it. So, let’s continue to be unique amazing individuals with varied tastes and opinions, because that’s what makes this planet so exciting!

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