In 1932, French poet Paul Valéry penned an essay in which he described art criticism as “that form of literature which condenses or amplifies, emphasizes or arranges, or attempts to bring into harmony all the ideas that come to the mind when it is confronted by artistic phenomena.” Valéry’s tenacious embrace of criticism is echoed by critic David Levi Strauss in an article for the Brooklyn Rail, arguing for the urgent need of criticism today:
Why does art need criticism? Because it needs something outside itself as a place of reflection, discernment, and connection with the larger world. Art for art’s sake is fine, if you can get it. But then the connection with the larger world becomes tenuous, and the connection to the social disappears. If you want to engage, if you want discourse, you need criticism.
Is the art world in the midst of a crisis in criticism? Read Strauss’ article in its entirely here.