In Sunday’s (7/19) Arizona Republic (Phoenix), Richard Nilsen writes, “Of all the misbegotten occupations in the world, critiquing art must be the most woeful. … Called a parasite by artists, performers and authors, he or she usually is explained by the aphorism, ‘Those who can, do; those who can’t, write reviews.’ … Yes, it’s easy to hate the critic…who can’t stand anyone’s success and does his or her best to point out every imagined imperfection… Like the way critic Paul de Saint-Victor said ‘the music of Wagner imposes mental tortures that only algebra has the right to inflict.’ … But there is more to criticism than the one-liner. And despite their miserable reputation, critics perform a valuable service. It would be hard to imagine an art world without critics to write about it. Art is, after all, a conversation between artist and audience. In this equation, the critic functions as a first and best reader, viewer or listener. In fact, you should call a music critic a ‘professional listener.’ … Even a wrong judgment raises the important issues. The critic invents the vocabulary for discussing art.”

Posted July 20, 2009