Friday, November 21, 2008
Artist Reviewing Artists
Several months back I stumbled across an art blog called Thinking About Art, written by an artist and art enthusiast. I liked his posts and also liked his approach to the art world. One day when I was checking in on his blog he had a post about art reviews and their bullshitty and incestuous nature. The point was that most artists reviews are either written by artists that weren't successful or by people who were not really qualified to review art at all. With that, he decided to do an open call to artists to review other artists. This would be a good way for artists as peers to review one another. Great idea!
So, I submitted a piece that was pretty indicative of the style and theme I was working with at the time and in return I was given a piece to critique, all to be done anonymously and then would be posted on the blog to be shared with the community. Well, as the posts began to go up and I was able to see others work and their associated reviews I was even more excited to do my part.
It seemed that the tone of the majority of the reviews was fairly friendly that was more to be encouraging to the fragile artist ego that the typical reviews which would be deifying or completely dehumanizing. With that I thought I would at least try to review the piece that I received as objectively and positively as I could. Then the piece that I was to review arrived in my inbox and to my dismay it was a painting of a reclining nude. How many paintings of reclining nudes does the world really need to see at this point in time? Doesn't matter, I want to be fair and judge the piece independently for it's quality, composition, etc, which I did in my review.
Anyway, the piece did nothing for me personally but I sent in my review and eagerly awaited mine. Several weeks passed and I was finally sent the review that the other artist did of my painting. I was really interested to see how it went over and to my disappointment, Mr. Reclining Nude guy's review was less than favorable. Now having been an artist and designer for the better part of 20 years I have quite thick skin at this point in my life and I truly believe that art is more for the artist that created it than any viewer. What bugged me though was that the bitterness of this artist came out in his review of my work, which went counter to the objective of the peer review project. Especially when even the crappiest of napkin drawings had been reviewed by other artists glowingly!
Yesterday the review of my work was posted on the blog and I thought I'd share that. Each artist had the opportunity to offer some sort of a response and add another piece if it helped give some context, which I did.
Overall and bad review aside, I still like the concept of the initiative, but the inconsistency of the reviews in relation to the quality of work was in reality no different that if they had been done by so called professional art critics. In the end art is just too subjective, which makes artists own confidence and personal network that much more necessary. If you like your own work, keep doing it. If you value the opinion of someone in particular,in my case my harshest critic (other than myself) my dad, bounce the work off of them. Either way, always push, push, push. Like your work, but never rest.