The Artist as a Critic
Oscar Wilder’s The Artist as Critic revolves around a debate Gilbert and Ernest discuss over art criticism and analysis. Ernest argues “that in the best days of art there we no art critics. ” (Wilder 346). Whereas Gilbert reasons that “it (art criticism) treats the work of art simply as a starting-point for a new creation” (Wilder 367). Sadly, Ernest’s blatant ignorance is unable to comprehend that without art criticism, there would be no art to truly value.
Wilde’s quote means that in order to hold art of all fields at a high prestige, we need critical structure and recognition of historical/political context to support art in order to admire the pure beauty within its relative expertise. “To know the principles of the highest art is to know the principles of the arts” (Wilder 354). Therefore, the cruciality of art criticism responds to the interpretation of meaning and focus on the current culture and time period, overall helping viewers perceive and analyze artworks to gain further knowledge and respect for such creations. Without the critical faculty, there is no artistic creation at all, worthy of name… and no one who does not possess this critical faculty can create anything at all in art. ” (Wilder 355) Gilbert sais this to Ernest arguing over the use of art criticism from the Greeks. Gilbert means that without a basic structure of skills and fundamental elements relevant to the expertise, there is no precision of craft. What makes fine art beautiful, worth listening and compelling is highly contingent upon the mastery of key skills and artistic components.
If an opera singer didn’t know how to differentiate their use of breath during lyric or coloratura repertoire, they would not be able to get through any piece or art song. Instead, they would sound breathy and toneless throughout the phrases, who wants to hear that? Likewise, if a writer has no sense of plot flow, character development, or interesting themes within a story, there is no point in wasting your time reading through a painful piece of literature.
All art forms are developed under a certain skill which require dedicated competence and applied faculty. Art critics simply keep artists in check by maintaining a certain level expectation to reach for and continue to advance artistic creations. Negative art criticism does not always apply to the lack of faculty skills. In Amiri Baraka’s poem Somebody Blew Up America, released a year after the anniversary of 9/11, he executed a highly controversial piece of writing that was a accused of racism and hatred against Jews, Israelis, and American leaders.
The bigoted public treated his work as a literal translation of his opinions and beliefs, when his intentions were to create an ultimate allegoric poem to open the eyes of our country that was unaware of political schemes and inhumane manipulation of our government that was thought to have led to the events of 9/11. Despite such a dispute perhaps liable from governmental course of action, 9/11 was still a fresh wound upon our country that was no where close to recovery due to such loss and tragic deaths.
Baraka’s poem hit too close to home at the time, people did not want to listen to his radical accusations and unpatriotic rambling about our country getting bombed. “The public’s inability to see the poem for what it really is, a high rhetorical statement expressing the writer’s ideological investments, signifies a profound lack of understanding of the nature of poetic art—a lack which can be explained by any number of cultural, historical, and institutional factors. (Gwiazda 16) Baraka’s Somebody Blew Up America was a powerful poem that should be praised for its thunderous diction and expertise of faculty. Instead he was removed from the national position as the Poet Laureate of New Jersey because the people of country could not comprehend such controversial context within his poem, they took his words too literally instead of a representation of political activist art. “The sheer multitude of these questions might indeed produce in the reader the suspicion of a global conspiracy of oppressors against oppressed, privileged against unprivileged, have against have-nots.
Through its relentless accumulation of imperialist wrongs “Somebody Blew up America” achieves a compelling rhetorical effect. ” (Gwiazda 10) Such an example of Baraka’s failure of a poem provides the essential requirement to utilize analytical techniques within political and cultural contexts to ensure further comprehension and appreciation of a valid work of art. Reading the poems in class by Chrystos instilled an influential awareness I e about how the power of poetry can reach people and activate mindsets through a strategic voice of force. As graphic as her poems are, they do not serve as aesthetic platforms that deliver you to your happy place, her work of art leaves a prominent message that is conducive towards delivering a strong testimony about her cultural and spiritual hardships. She opens the mind of the reader and draws a raw picture of her experiences and torments as a native in this intolerant country we call America.
Such art that tears at the soul and depicts unpleasant imagery is a powerful form of activist art by bringing awareness to the people about violence and inequities upon Natives, often been covered up by white supremacist governmental officials. Art does not have to be beautiful to convey an influential message, in fact, art in its most vulnerable and raw form reaches the audience by leaving an relevant feeling emotional, effectively capturing a great amount of attention. The ethical effect of art, its importance to culture, and its place in the formation of character, had been done once for all by Plato; but here we have art treated, not from moral, but from the purely aesthetic point of view. ” (Wilder 352) Understanding the elements that create such dramatic pieces of art enable the art critic to take in historical and political contexts to further establish an opinionated analysis of the work.
Unlike Baraka’s hostile reviews of “Somebody Blew Up America”, Chrystos poems were well received, less radical and primarily focused on revolving themes of oppression and discrimination. In conclusion, critical faculty and fundamental elements are essential to analyzing a work of art. The world needs art criticism in order to truly value a mastery of skills relevant to the field. With the foundation of art criticism we can further the creations of great art to aspire to and behold its greatness.