It all comes down to this. I’ve spent the last six weeks talking about the problems and merits of art criticism to build up to this final question: Is criticizing the arts necessary?
To answer that question, let me ask another question: Would we even know what “art” is if critics didn’t point it out?
As I said in my “What is ‘art’?” post a while back, the definition of art can be described as “a skill acquired by experience, study or observation.”
“When looking at film, book, painting, etc., and you can tell that there is a certain amount of skill, heart, effort, passion and hard-work put into it, then I believe that not only is it just a painting, but it’s also art.
In other words, not all paintings or movies are art. Only some of them are. How do we know which ones are art and which ones aren’t? That’s one of the reasons critics exist.”
If it weren’t for critics to point out what is and isn’t art, then there would be no appreciation for the truly magnificent pieces of work humans have created over the years. Works like the Mona Lisa, “2001: A Space Odyssey” and The Thinker would go unnoticed.
As Armond White said, “That’s why we need film critics—to help us understand the sute of movies, our cultural life, and our general moral and political being.”
So to answer that final question: Yes. Criticism of the arts is necessary.
It’s all about finding just the right people who have just the right words to describe why something either does or doesn’t work. It’s easy enough to tune out those who don’t have the right words, but it’s almost impossible to ignore those who are able to capture a work of art just right.