-The Critic


Our opinions of art are largely based on preconceived notions we develop from the art we have experienced. For instance, my favored style of painting is impressionism; therefore I may see a work embodying the cubist movement and subconsciously choose not to like it because it is so different from what I have grown accustomed to enjoying. This decision is detrimental to our mental health, as it blocks the paths to creativity within us. If I chose to only enjoy Monet and Degas, I would be closing myself off to the possibilities of Picasso and Metzinger as artists to appreciate. In his cartoon Kritikeren, meaning critic, Herluf Bidstrup depicts the tendency we have to degrade art simply because it does not speak to our individual preferences.

In his cartoons, Bidstrup demonstrates the attitudes people hold in respect to art. In Kritikeren, he depicts a man of assumable wealth, walking with his head held high, who puts his nose up in disgust at all the art he sees, going as far as spitting on a painting. In the end, a young boy proves to be his kryptonite when he points and laughs at this self-proclaimed connoisseur of art. Finally, he slinks away embarrassed and ashamed.

In our day and age people have become less stringent when it comes to the pieces we consider to be art. From Caravaggio, to Warhol, from Ansell Adams to Da Vinci, society has become tolerant to all forms, especially due to the fact that they sit side-by-side in galleries around the world. However, there is one form of art that receives widespread distain from the general population: graffiti. The term graffiti has such a negative connotation in today’s society and when it is seen people fail to see the artistic value of it and instead focus on it as a menace to society. A street tagger in London named Banksy has put a new twist on the art of graffiti and has changed the face of this world. He is an anonymous tagger, yet he has had many shows, official and unofficial, all over the world. Some cities have tried to preserve his art as part of their inner culture because he is so well known across the globe now. Furthermore, people have gone to great lengths, spending tremendous amounts of money, to obtain his artwork to showcase in their homes. However, there are still those that demean his work, accusing it of being nothing more than him attempting to fulfill his vendetta towards ‘the establishment’. In Banksy’s case, one must set aside their attitude that he is breaking the law, and approach his paintings as art.

This concept is directly relatable to Kant’s theory of art, that we subconsciously label everything we see as beautiful or not. He believed we must be able to separate our interests so that we can fully concentrate on contemplating art. Looking back at the cartoon, we can see that the subject is not taking even a second look at what he is apparently repulsed by, therefore not taking Kant’s words of wisdom and reaching a state of “disinterestedness”. Sadly, as he sets himself high and mighty above the rest of the art world, assuming he can tell what is beautiful, he fails to see that he himself is not the masterpiece he believed.
Although everyone has a different opinion on what beauty in art consists of, no one can truly be the judge of what it is. Hume claimed that a group of accomplished men with similar interests could one day set the “standards of taste”. Human beings will never come to a resolute agreement leading to the conclusion that there will never be a system to determine if art is worthy to be viewed by the masses. In many ways this leads me to agree with Plato, that no one is qualified to critique art unless they have a thorough knowledge in all fields and possibilities related to it. Experts in the field all have different opinions of who the greatest painters or sculptors were. These are men we look to in order to guide our interpretations of artwork, so what do we do when the have conflicting views?

Art is a pure form of self-expression. It allows for a catharsis in the artist, and for each and every spectator it can mean something different. Keeping our minds closed to the possibilities of art is what prevents us from reaching our full potential. We, the people of this world, are not all of one mind, but of completely unique minds, and so we cannot expect the person sitting next to us to share our opinions. We must adopt Kant’s theory and become disinterested in our surroundings and solely focus on the art in order to have the right to form any opinion at all.  



By: Leslee Graves
Major: Hospitality Business Management & Music
Expected Graduation Date: May 2016
Hometown: Arlington, WA                                               

I grew up watching my mother creating all forms of art and her love of the arts rubbed off on me.  I enjoy discovering unique and little known artists, like Banksy, who served as inspiration for this paper. It is times like these where procrastinating on the internet actually ended up helping me.