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By field: art criticism - critical theory - cultural criticism - film criticism - literary criticism - music criticism

Related: taste - connoisseur - recommendation - review - judgement

"What is the good of criticism? What is the good? -- A vast and terrible question mark which seizes the critic by the throat from the very first step in the first chapter he sets down to write. ...I sincerely believe that the best criticism is that which is both amusing and poetic: not a cold, mathematical criticism which, on the pretext of explaining everything, has neither love nor hate, and voluntarily strips itself of every shred of temperament... To be just, that is to say, to justify its existence, criticism should be partial, passionate and political, that is to say , written from an exclusive point of view, but a point of view that opens up the widest horizons." --Charles Baudelaire writing on the occasion of the Salon of 1846, first published as a booklet, Paris 1846)


The act of criticizing, especially adversely. See also: opposition classifying, interpreting, or evaluating literary or other artistic works. --American Heritage Dictionary


A critic (derived from the ancient Greek word krites meaning a judge) is a person who offers a value judgement or an interpretation.

The term is used in particular for a professional who regularly judges or interprets performances or other work of other people (such as artists, scientists, musicians or actors) and publishes these judgements or interpretations in a periodical (often a newspaper, magazine, or academic journal). Critics often specialize in one field and are usually well educated in that field. Professional critics are numerous in the fields of art, music, film (see film critic), theatre, restaurants and scientific publication.

Criticism is the activity of judgement or interpretation. Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

Although there can be both positive and negative aspects to criticism, one sense of the term emphasizes negative comments. A phrase such as "critics of Einstein argue that..." generally refers to people who are sceptical of the value of Einstein's position. In a different context, though, the use of critics in a similar phrase like "critics of Romantic poetry argue that..." often simply means the neutral activity of interpretation.

Critique, especially in philosophical contexts (where it is used to translate the German word Kritik), has a more clearly defined meaning than criticism. (Confusingly, the adjectival form of both critique and criticism is critical, making some uses ambiguous.)

In this context, a critique is a systematic inquiry into the conditions and consequences of a concept or set of concepts, and an attempt to understand its limitations. A critical perspective, in this sense, is the opposite of a dogmatic one. In philosophy this sense of the word was defined by Immanuel Kant, who wrote:

We deal with a concept dogmatically…if we consider it as contained under another concept of the object which constitutes a principle of reason and determine it in conformity with this. But we deal with it merely critically if we consider it only in reference to our cognitive faculties and consequently to the subjective conditions of thinking it, without undertaking to decide anything about its object. (Critique of Judgment sec. 74)

Later thinkers used the word critique, in a broader version of Kant's sense of the word, to mean the systematic inquiry into the limits of a doctrine or set of concepts (for instance, much of Karl Marx's work was in the critique of political economy). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism [Dec 2004]

Appreciative criticism

André Bazin is known as a proponent of appreciative criticism, wherein only critics who like a film can write a review of it, thus encouraging constructive criticism.

The critic dilemma [...]

For an artist in any field, the entire notion of being judged is daunting. Depending upon a variety of circumstances and one’s personality, it is never easy to be criticized and invariably it is wonderful to be praised. After all we are all human beings with sensitivities. True, as Miles Davis remarked to me, one can make it a practice to ignore all reviews. On the other hand, I recall an interview with John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy in which thy responded to the critics who labeled their music angry and negative. (To me, that is incredulous since Trane’s music was among the most spiritual I ever encountered!) And then there is the statement by Gene Lees: “All criticism is self justification!” --David Liebman

Tastemakers [...]

A tastemaker is one that determines or strongly influences current trends or styles, as in fashion or the arts. For a tastemaker to be international, he must be able to reach the world --adapted from The American Heritage® Dictionary

Mediated relationships

If I read a favorable review of my favorite author by a book critic, I'll be likely to trust that critic's judgment in future, and check out books that he recommends. If I like a singer-songwriter, chances are that I'll like the bands that she cites as influences. And so on. --Joshua Ellis in taste tribes.

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