Portraits of a Crit

By Catherine Howe, instructor at the Academy
It was Sunday, 3:30 pm, December 12, the third and final day of Mid-Year Critiques at the Academy. I was sick at home, but instead of just thrashing about in a feverish "As if I could BE there" sensibility, I thought I would share some glimpses of the "Crit-ers" and the "Crit-ees" from the first two days, along with some gems I jotted down before I became senseless with flu.

A stellar cast of "Crit-ers" participated, encouraging the students and sharing critical feedback essential to their progress through their Thesis projects. Wade Schuman, Lisa Bartolozzi, Patrick Connors, John Jacobsmeyer, Vincent Desiderio, Bob Simon, Bruce Gagnier, Kurt Kauper, Harvey Citron, and Margaret Bowland were among those who shared the following insights. See if you can guess who said what...

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On painting with a system - "...you have to turn a system into an aesthetic, it is like some contemporary jazz; it sounds like it is fun for them (the musicians), but it's not for me."

On "accuracy first" in the painting process - "Manet always started with an accurate underpainting before proceeding to simplify things. This accuracy fed his abstraction."

On the Ineffable in art - "Rodin would say that the most important part of great architecture is the part no one talks about: the AIR inside it."

An apt metaphor - "Please don't give me something that is predigested!"

On habitat - "Criticism is in the past tense and painting in the present. An artist can be imprisoned with each mark, virtually painting within that cloistered place of certainty, or the artist can paint from an observatory, where sensation defies absolute description."

On originality - "The artist must be a good parking attendant- it is usually best to back in while trying to avoid bumping into the cars of famous people."

On bad television - "All the painting tropes have been absorbed by popular culture. The artist must consider that paintings now carry the detritus of everything else."

On the monstrous - "You have to think how the parts relate to the whole, there must be an overarching idea or a system of integration or the result is nothing but an accretion."

On depth of experience - "The painter should express ideas through the paint itself: you have to take me there and make me care!"

And, finally - "Cough, sniff."
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  1. A great recap! Thanks Catherine, a lot to consider. I do have one major contention in that list:

    An artist should be a very lousy parking attendant-- willfully smashing the cars of famous people (not sure if that's a metaphor).

  2. And so tomorrow comin later than usual
    Waitin' on someone to pity us
    While we findin beauty in the hideous