How Critics Affect Artists

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An artist’s work can take years to complete, while a critic’s take on said art can be formulated in a matter of hours. This distinction is pointed out early on in Richard Brody’s discussion of criticism at The New Yorker

Brody does not argue that critics should be considered inferior to artists, rather that they should be wary of how their words affect the headspace of an artist. He asks that critics consider the affect of their words prior to writing:

“Art is a place of maximal danger; it endangers the soul of the artist no less than the soul of the reader or viewer or listener… Critics don’t need to be nice (programmatic niceness is itself another sort of self-falsification and self-punishment, and is at least as sanctimonious as self-justifying meanness), but they do need to know where they stand.” 

Along the same lines, Salon’s J. Robert Lennon explains why aggressively negative reviews are detrimental to both artist and reviewer. (Shout out to The Rumpus’ Rebecca Rubenstein for the tip)


Jack Taylor is a Rumpus Intern, gangly fellow, and Steal the Bacon enthusiast. More from this author →