In a recent poll of practicing art critics, 75 percent reported that rendering judgments on artworks was the least significant aspect of their job. This is a troubling statistic for philosopher and critic Noel Carroll, who argues that that the proper task of the critic is not simply to describe, or to uncover hidden meanings or agendas, but instead to determine what is of value in art.
Carroll argues for a humanistic conception of criticism which focuses on what the artist has achieved by creating or performing the work. Whilst a good critic should not neglect to contextualize and offer interpretations of a work of art, he argues that too much recent criticism has ignored the fundamental role of the artist's intentions.
Including examples from visual, performance and literary arts, and the work of contemporary critics, Carroll provides a charming, erudite and persuasive argument that evaluation of art is an indispensable part of the conversation of life.
Noël Carroll is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of a number of books on aesthetics and philosophy, including The Philosophy of Horror and The Philosophy of Art.
'This book is badly needed, as much by critics as those who read them, as much by teachers of criticism as those who would like to write criticism.'
- Arthur C. Danto, Art Critic, The Nation
'This little book runs directly counter to the modern orthodoxy that proper art criticism is all about interpretation and contextualizing. With admirable clarity and disarming candor, it defends the unfashionable view that the heart of art criticism is giving reasoned evaluations of artistic achievement. Everything else passing under this label -- from gender theory to Derridean deconstruction -- is secondary. What makes the book specially persuasive is Noel Carroll's unrivalled expertise in all things aesthetic.'
- Gordon Graham, Princeton University, USA