Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wilde Times

The most provocative sentence in Oscar Wilde's "The Critic as Artist" was "To the critic the work of art is simply a suggestion for a new work of his own, that need not necessarily bear any obvious resemblances to the thing it criticises" (907). In my experience with reviews, the original artistic content is intrinsically tied into my writing, specifically through an awareness of structure and voice. The notion of critic as independent artist without grounding to the artist's creation is mildly problematic for me.

I agree with Gilbert because he stresses criticism as a creative endeavor and an engagement with the artist. Gilbert was particularly persuasive describing the critic's role as interpreter and the concept of criticism as self-projection. While a critique is by definition an independent creation, I feel a strong critique must be inspired by the original work or infused with similar stylistic elements because a critique's direct correlation with the original content strengthens the critic's insights.

Who is more responsible for sustaining artistic standards: artists or critics? Wilde states that Criticism is "the record of one's own soul" (905), and if a critic's primary function is to project him or herself onto the artistic material, it seems difficult for a critic to be engaged with art when her primary object of study is herself. Pauline Kael was accused of reviewing everything about a film except the film, and I have my doubts about how the tripartite critical responsibilities of informer, entertainer, and consumer advocate can be upheld when the review's content drifts so far from the original artistic creation. 

Wilde was right to note the interconnected nature of artist and critic through consumption of artistic output. He argues, "It is through its very incompleteness that Art becomes complete in beauty..." (908). The critic and artist have a symbiotic relationship to capture the nuances of beauty as an ideal. Whether it be through direct criticism or analysis of larger societal trends, both can cooperate towards this goal.

1 comment:

  1. I like this a lot—you start to get into the symbiotic relationship, which extrapolated from Wilde's time into our own, reads, to me, like: if people aren't talking about it, it doesn't matter. Which I find interesting. Why are popular artists popular? That harkens back to Kael too.