Saturday, January 31, 2015

Criticism in Photography: Is It Good or Bad? (Part 2).

The second meaning of the term “Criticism” is the activity of making careful judgments about the good and bad qualities of books, movies, etc.

I would like to quote Terry Barret here: “Criticism is informed discourse about art to increase understanding and appreciation of art” (you might want to read more here).
He means all art forms, including photography. Discourse includes talking and writing, but writing about art is not always criticism.
 It can be news reporting with information about artists or art events.

For example, we can read Winter arts preview 2015 to find out that there’s the exhibition in Museum of Modern Art “Modern Photographs from the Thomas Walther Collection, 1909–1949”, where people can enjoy “the show of some 300 European photographs done mostly between the World Wars embraces great photos made by marginal figures—Czech, Polish, Russian names largely unfamiliar to the American audiences”.

The photography criticism is published in books, art and photography magazines and the popular press.
We spoke about one of the most famous books on photography criticism – “On photography” by Susan Sontag (read more here and here).

The majority of the photography criticism is published in magazines and journals (the Susan Sontag’s book originally appeared as a series of essays in the New York Review of Books).

A.D. Coleman is one of the famous photography critics. He is not a photographer and was never formally schooled in photography. He began writing about photography because he “was excited by photographs, curious about the medium, and fascinated -- even frightened -- by its impact on our culture.” (read more here and here). A.D. Coleman wrote: “… audience’s understanding of photography will have to be nurtured by one or more local critics committed to educating an audience for photography by starting at the beginning and establishing the appropriate and necessary reference points”.

So it’s impossible to answer the question “Is the criticism in photography good or bad?” in one word.
The criticism in photography is bad when it is only the way to express one’s disapproval without any arguments.

The positive meaning of reading honest and good critics is that it helps us to increase our knowledge and appreciation of art. It is important to get honest and constructive critique to improve our photography.
 That’s why the criticism in photography is good.

“Honest feedback from someone you trust is so important for the artist who truly wants to grow... It is a hard job to give someone a sensitive but honest critique.” (Nina Allen Freeman)
Thank you for reading!

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