Would you rather be adored by the art-buying public or by the critics?

Tough question, huh?

An article in the New York Times tells of Scottish artist Jack Vettriano’s success with the public, while noting that he has been spurned by the art establishment.

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9 comments to Would you rather be adored by the art-buying public or by the critics?

  • I think I would rather be loved by the public. It would be unsettling to get negative reviews, but with the money coming in from sales, that would keep me thinking positively and remembering the trouble Monet and others of now great importance went through!

  • Quick! Name ten famous artists. Any ten from throughout history. Quick! Now name ten famous critics from throughout history. Hmmm…. I tend to regard critics as artist-wannabes who never had the talent or dedication to be the real thing. So to make themselves feel better, they take potshots at those of us who do what they can’t. I’ve never understood why so many artists give away their power to these people. Hands down, I’d rather have the adoration of the art-buying public. Does anyone outside their fellow members of the Sour-Grapes Society really pay that much attention to the critics?

  • Kathy, I think you’re wrong about the critics. The serious ones are definitely NOT wannabes. They are exactly where they want to be. I always learn a lot from the good critics. I especially enjoyed Michael Kimmelman’s book “The Accidental Masterpiece.” I understand the rift, but many artists need critics–especially those artists who are looking for high-end galleries and museums. It just depends on what your goals are for your career.

  • Joseph Murray

    I couldn’t agree with the comments of Kathy, Phillip, or Kristi more. Have you ever noticed that artists that have self developed their own style or are not academically trained in the pure arts also have a rougher time getting exposure to galleries etc. ? To me, those artists are the ones that have something strong to say visually as they have developed whatever they have on their own abilities, experimentation, and creativeness. Lots of critics have a tendancy to pooh pooh those types until they are “proven”. Ha! How do you get proven unless someone believes in your talent ? I think artists have dealt with this problem for centuries . I say go for it and never stop cause if it comes from your heart it is not wrong . Keep on Keeping on ! Ain’t it Fun ?

  • Tracy

    Art critics play a role and serve a purpose, and I think many folks understand it’s just someone’s personal opinion. (kinda like a movie critic….) If given the choice, I’d rather have public approval over praise from critics. The back-to-basic reason I create what I do is to stir something up in viewers. Besides, do you think Barry Manilow lies awake at night pondering his past reviews?

  • phillippa lack

    You are right, Kathy. Those critics never touch a brush, they just pontificate on and on and never put themselves ‘out there’ like we do all the time. Better a loving public, I say.

  • Alyson, If the only way to gain entre into that rarified world of high end galleries and museums is via critical acclaim, then I would guess this encourages artists to pander to the critics to get their approval. Not much different from the rest of us who are often accused of pandering to the public for *their* approval. Personally, I think being beneath the critics’ radar (and contempt in many cases) is a good sign. After all, that’s where the Impressionists started out…so that puts a lot of us in pretty good company 🙂

  • Wow. I love this discussion. It’s so relevant. There was a time when I would have opted to have the attention of the art establishment. Not anymore. I’ve realized that the establishment is often very, very narrow. Now I would much rather have the appreciation of the art buying public. My more confident adult self does not need someone else to tell me what I should like and why I should like it. A week or so ago I blogged about this in my “Idols and Experts” entry. I was facinated by the fact that American Idol topped the Grammies in ratings (Non-professionals vs. professionals). Times have changed. We’re knee-deep in the communication era. We are bombarded with information and sometimes it seems like the art establishment is a very stubborn, slow moving ship, not quite keeping up with our accelerated culture. Blogging alone is democratizing (at least so far) the field of mass communication.

  • Beside that Jack Vettriano, my favorite contemporary artist, is a living proof that critics are not necessary for a successful career. These people can negatively judge your work while somebody else is very happy to purchase it and welcome it in their home. And with which standard they make a judgment? Based on what? The art has to be created to please the eye of the viewer, is made to stir emotions and feelings and there is many way to achieve it. Jack Vettriano is painting romance, that’s why is successfull, no matter what the “critics” say, people love his work and they will keep buying it. Critics opinions are just personal opinions.