Art Criticism

Art is such a complex and intricate form of expression that depicts a certain viewpoint all based on the artist’s experiences thus far in his or her life. The resulting form of art is subjective in its entirety and only to be understand on a different level varying from person to person. Richardson said that art is meant to “speak to us, and teach us History, Morality, Divinity; excite in us Joy, Love, Pity, Devotion, etc. If Pictures have not this good effect, ‘tis our own fault not choosing well, or not applying ourselves to make a right use of them” (43). That art is meant to evoke some kind of emotion, but these emotions come biased. Our “opinions [are] taken up early, and from those we have lov’d, and honour’d, and which we fee to be approved and applauded by such, be their numbers never so great must have no advantage us upon these accounts. Neither must our own passions, or interest be allow’d to give the least bias to our judgments when we are on a rational enquiry, where all these things are entirely heterogeneous” (Richardson 17-18). Everything we view is in the mindset of being wary of what the people in our lives that we love might think about us. We are shaped by those we love and thus view the world around us with this bias and opinionated stance. We must have emotion for the art in the world around us but be rational and give the least amount of bias as possible when looking at a piece of art, no matter the form.

When I look at the Idleness of Sisyphus (1985) by Sandro Chia I get a certain emotion from the painting from my past experiences. This painting is created based on the story of the man who was sentenced to push this rock up a hill for the rest of his life, only when he got to the top every time the rock would fall all the way back to the ground and he would have to start again. This was punishment for the life he led. I learned this from one of my English classes in high school where we read the story. Richardson would point out how my past experiences shape the emotions I have for this particular painting and that probably is what makes me slightly more attached to this particular piece of art work.


Then I look at paintings like Large Check: 10 (1987) by Sherrie Levine and just don’t understand the intentions from the artist. Chia’s painting brings back a certain memory and this tale of the man pushing the rock up the hill, while this checkered painting is something I feel like I could of created. What makes this worthy of museum status, while if I did this no one would accept this as art. I know for a fact that my opinion on this piece is biased and I need to look at this from a more objective view, Richardson would call me out for being biased and shaped by my previous life experiences. Modern art is really there to make you question everything you thought you knew about the concepts of art.


Art is an open ended topic in my mind. No one interpretation is right or wrong, just simply shaped by past experiences. Richardson really pointed this out in his writings how we view art with emotion but we still need to be rational in what we are seeing and interpreting as the artist’s intentions. I don’t think that it is possible to look at art without prejudice because our life experiences have shaped everything we look at around us, from people, to clothes, to work ethic, etc etc. We are living in a society that is completely dependent on where we grew up and around who we grew up.



Sources used:


One thought on “Art Criticism

  1. Sarah,

    You did a great job grappling with Richardson’s beliefs about prejudice. I loved that you incorporated the idea of memory into your interpretation of Chia’s painting. Memory itself is so subjective, so it seems to tie in nicely to your beliefs about artistic interpretation. Also, the fact that you talked about modern art’s capacity to make us question our conceptions of “art” was very cool.

    Good job discussing how you felt Richardson might have viewed your responses. Well done!

    Grade: S

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