Problems of Criticism III: Venetian Art and Florentine Criticism

LET ME BEGIN BY SAYING that criticism seems most alive to itself when it is kept somewhat off guard by works of art—when a critic suspects that he must enlarge his frame of reference, or intensify his analytic tools, or even switch his methodological approach to make his experience intelligible in its own terms. Many things in current art have required him to move off his intellectual base, from minimal art to the theater of mixed means. These have engaged him in philosophical, sociological, or perceptual operations that may come to seem more or less warranted by the shifting developments under examination. But different as they are, one condition they share is their logical bias: their faith in schematizing and analyzing variously fused esthetic data into a picture of a structured, internally consistent (even in its contradictions) phenomenon. As a response to the spectacularly anti-rational

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