on Lithuanian Art Criticism
should differentiate between theoretical discourse on art, which approaches
its subjects as finite and complete, and immediate art criticism, which
guides around processes still in the stage of formation. In the first
case we can speak of methods, in the second, we distinguish only
types of criticism. Numerous fine examples of art criticism manifest
no method. However, knowledge of methods usually reinforces criticism,
which is weaker when diluted with journalism. However, it is the very
concept of art and the type of criticism of choice that are key
to art critics, but not methods or strict procedures.
Second. At least some of contemporary art criticism should rediscover
its evaluative function. It is either unimportant or hidden in
works of theoretical or historical approach (except for works written
with a certain psychological, philosophical, etc. platform). But a critic
is expected to evaluate separate phenomena of the processes he is covering.
Most critics still are reluctant to give a negative appraisal.
Third. Evaluation needs criteria. It is critical that criteria
be adequate of the rules chosen by the artist. Some of such criteria
are more superficial and look for originality or freshness. Another
group includes aspects like artistic quality and the depth of content.
By content I mean the focus on existential questions. Today depth
may include questioning the very nature of art (culture) and issues
of identity. The work of art can also gain depth by capitalizing
on different cultural texts and contexts. Aesthetic impact of a work,
both formal and conceptual, is artistic quality. Contemporary
art critics seldom apply this measure, obviously due to the lack of
understanding of international art context. It might strike as an invitation
to reinstall modernism and hierarchy. Yet what about this popular catchphrase
choose the best?
Fourth. This is not discouragement from interpretation, which
means generating meanings. It is probable that power to educe interpretations
is a key factor determining the value of the work of art. Yet evaluation
of these meanings and non-meanings might prove useful for somebody outside
indoctrinated artistic circles. Art sometimes seeps through the
boundaries of the world of art, where it also finds people, occasionally
not best disposed toward art.
Fifth. Contemporary criticism tends to shun interpretative
function, advocating instead an approach of individual consumption
of a work of art. Still it is interpretation, as it is about generating
meanings. Though many works of art physically do not differ from mundane
objects, semantically they do. Thus by individual consumption
we explicate the meanings that we read in a work of art.
Sixth. Contemporary criticism might as well to become an individual
way of consuming art, a parasite on its body. But this does not
preclude interpretation, e.g., generating meanings. Not perennial
ones, yet the ones that are prompted by context. In a sense, this
does not counter evaluation, without which art criticism runs a risk
to become too boring.