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ART CRITICISM HAS LONG BEEN programmatically under fire from its enemies and it has just now been dealt a setback by its supposed friends. I’ve often complained of criticism too, but it is the best instrument we have for reflecting upon the experience of art in modern culture. The critic is the individual who assesses the ideas, responds to the artistic processing, and monitors the feeling tones of the created work, in public, and for the record.

Criticism is accomplished through great internal disputes, using sensitized language in which the allusive character and the value systems of works of art can be analyzed. Working on indicative visual forms, critics edge possible meanings into thought. When the feathers fly in art criticism, we learn what difference the art makes—how it has or hasn’t mattered, from the vantage point not of its producers or patrons, but of impassioned spectators.

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