Who decides whether art is ‘good’ or ‘bad’? | A.O. Scott

Who decides whether art is ‘good’ or ‘bad’? | A.O. Scott


I think that taste hierarchies do exist and
they’re almost always the kind of the representation of other sorts of hierarchies and assumptions. And that’s why I really think that part of
the job of criticism is to be against them, is to refuse, at least the categorization
of things as high and low. I think it was Duke Ellington who’s often
quoted as saying, “There are two kinds of music; good music and bad in music.” And everything else is kind of sociology and
politics and prejudice and snobbery kind of sneaking in. And we’re none of us immune to those things. We live in the world we associate with, who
we associate with; we identify ourselves as we identify ourselves. But I think that the job of critics and of
criticism is to kind of to push against that. And it has just even historically been the
job of critics very often or of criticism to insist on the value and the dignity and
the importance of works of art and types of works of art that had been neglected or ignored
or disrespected. And it’s in fact the rise of criticism, within
any of those arts, that gets it to be taken seriously. Movies are a great example. I mean movies, you know, nobody took movies
seriously except like maybe in Germany in the ’20s as an art form. And it was critics first in France and then
in the United States after the Second World War who said well look no, this junk that’s
been coming out of Hollywood actually this is a significant modern art form. These people whose names you just see in the
credits, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, Orson Welles, these are artists. This is art. And it was critics who were able to do that
and I think jazz critics and rock critics and people who have written about hip-hop
and television have done that work too of recategorizing and redefining and challenging
the hierarchical assumptions about what is high art and what is low. The thing that’s great about movies is that
they are high and low and that they run, you know, there’s a very wide spectrum from the
most crassly commercial genre of products and the most refined and difficult works of
art. And the thing that you discover when you write
about criticism is that sometimes the ones that are very low are actually, you know,
fantastic works of art and the ones that are very high can be just as terrible and a hacky
and stupid as anything else.

20 thoughts on “Who decides whether art is ‘good’ or ‘bad’? | A.O. Scott

  • December 20, 2019 at 10:00 am
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    If it it's good enough to use for laundering money it's good art!

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  • December 20, 2019 at 10:05 am
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    I wanna know who decides what is good or bad MODERN art.

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  • December 20, 2019 at 10:08 am
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    The art merchants do aka Jews like you.

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  • December 20, 2019 at 10:22 am
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    Easy answer. I do.

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  • December 20, 2019 at 10:42 am
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    i didn't learn anything…This kind of question in 3min ? seriously…

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  • December 20, 2019 at 11:18 am
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    that is an excellent question

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  • December 20, 2019 at 11:19 am
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    Before “good” or “bad”, who gets to call it art?

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  • December 20, 2019 at 11:38 am
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    Modern art has nothing to do with art but with creation of an object that is valued by the material and or the creator. If the creator convinces the audience that the piece created is unique in terms of material or idea, though it doesn't communicate anything, then the piece can reach high prices, then it will be confirmed the idea of a piece of modern Art…

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  • December 20, 2019 at 11:56 am
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    '''when you write about criticism is that sometimes the ones that are very low, are actually, you know, fantastic works of art''. What is this man saying? I'm not English but I'm pretty sure that sentence doesn't make any sense at all.

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  • December 20, 2019 at 12:07 pm
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    Art as anything else is in the eye of the beholder.

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  • December 20, 2019 at 12:10 pm
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    Discerning people who recognise quality.

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  • December 20, 2019 at 12:59 pm
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    “ it was critics were able to do that” meaning bringing Hollywood movies into the forefront of art.

    Bullshit, customers did, fans did. Critics just popularized the creators and added highbrow to it. Critics represent popular culture. They are also weeded out by it.

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  • December 20, 2019 at 1:23 pm
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    “A Statue Has Never Been Set Up in Honour of a Critic”

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  • December 20, 2019 at 1:29 pm
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    The comment section does not understand art.

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  • December 20, 2019 at 1:45 pm
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    Art is everywhere! Even computer science, just ask a programmer about their source code. Everyone has their own level of art in it.

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  • December 20, 2019 at 1:48 pm
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    3 minutes wasted

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  • December 20, 2019 at 1:55 pm
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    Apparently, whoever is willing to pay for the piece of art is the one who decides it's "good" art.

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  • December 20, 2019 at 2:12 pm
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    I don't see the point in bringing in a film critic to talk about a broad topic like this.
    When we talk about "Good/bad art, i think it's fair to assume that we are talking about strokes on a canvas here.
    Removing categorization is not a woke approach, it just blurs the lines an devalue actual talent and labor.

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  • December 20, 2019 at 2:21 pm
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    So his answer is critics. Must admit I don't believe him.

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  • December 20, 2019 at 2:59 pm
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    Just as the sheer quantity will automatically devalue a product (quality vs. quantity), so too the very act of criticism will increase the value of it. Of course critics can be wrapped with malicious intent, but at least that's all I could gather from this video.

    Reply

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