Never Again, Because it’s Never a Gain

It is always a loss of friendships, relationships, karmic capital, time, effort, and, occasionally, teeth.

I mean, being honest when it comes to art is like walking in the rain and smiling at lightning when you have a full set of metal brackets.

Criticizing artists (or just telling them what you really think) while looking directly into their eyes is especially dangerous. Like, saying, “You know, John, this is a secondhand idea and you really should not have used that much of this red” when John asks you what you think about his latest masterpiece.

An artist can crush a Champaign bottle on your head, and then walk free from the court, because any jury would decide it was your fault.

The judge then is likely to rule your head still needs to be examined, after your cracked skull would have healed. If you are dumb enough to be honest with an artist, you should be locked away from the society of normal people.

Recently, I think I’ve lost friendship with a great couple of art lovers because I entertained the idea of an honest answer about the artist they introduced me to, when they asked if I wanted to buy anything from the guy.

I could say I didn’t have the budget.

I am not saying artists should not be criticized. Oh, well, they should, but only if you checked the front door is locked and windows are barred, and you’ve established no one among your relatives or friends (you want to stay friends with) is in love with the artist’s artwork.

Many great minds tried to convince artists it was OK for an artwork to be criticized. “Impressionism” and “Fauvism” were born out of critical ridicule. Nothing helped to convince artists that criticism should be welcomed into their life, unlike praise that is more appropriate posthumously.

Artistic profession is unlike any other. If you invite, say, a plumber, and his work is worthy of criticism, it is you who gets offended, not the plumber. The plumber can’t tell you that you are an unappreciative asshole, and expect to keep working in the neighbourhood. Artists are different. The artist architect who worked on my house was deeply, mortally offended at me noticing the mirror he ordered was 15 cm (half a foot) shorter than the recess he planned for it, and that it was not aesthetically gratifying to have a smaller mirror filling a bigger recess. He broke the relationship.


Thank you, the Daily Prompt, for inspiration!


  1. Hmmm, your post actually woke up my brain cells this morning. Trust me, its a positive endeavor. Criticizing an artist face to face takes lots of guts. Taking criticism takes even more. Good artist know how to filter the criticism by taking only the constructive kind which takes being honest with themselves about their work and questioning if they are going down the best path to illustrate and communicate their vision. The genius artists know how to take any criticism and throw it back into to the face of critics with art that may have been inspired/motivated by it.

    My biggest criticism, if I have a place to criticize at all, is that too much art is copy-cat art. Its rare to find someone with new technique, new insight, new medium, or a new way to slap me awake. Lately, I have been turning more toward outsiders, people doing strange things that are hard to classify in the standard art world. At the end of the day, most of everything fits into boxes. Its our job as humans to break out of boxes.

    1. Well, thank you for waking up and sharing your thoughts on this ) Terry Pratchett once said, I’d welcome thinking outside-the-box were I sure there’s any thinking going on inside it ) I’ve just been to the RA Summer Exhibition in London, and I must say, the supposedly sharp end of British art failed to punch any holes in my heart. This show might convince me the traditional art is dead, were I not aware of very traditional artists who are still able of punching a hole or two. I think I do a post on one of Sevastianov’s recent works that bulldozed thru me. I hope you’d like it. This being said, I am fully behind your point of view that outside-the-box artists do manage to stir things with non-traditional thinking in unusual media better than the traditional ones.

  2. OK, you are right – criticizing artists can be thin ice to walk on, but as a budding artist I can tell you about another extreme – NOBODY other than my art teacher, my husband and one fellow artist (whom I asked to) would ever criticize my work – and I need the criticism more than anything. I am sick and tired of meaningless compliments and if I am called ‘an amazing artist’ one more time, I may get violent in the way you describe in your post. The closest I have been to getting objective feedback for my work is when I secretly observe the body language of people looking at my work at exhibitions. Better than nothing, but I need more, I need to understand what, why, how.

    So, if you, or anyone who reads this comment want to look at my work and tell me what they DON’T like about it and why – I will be eternally grateful. In fact, I am going to post an appeal for criticism on my own blog right away.
    Your post prompted this idea – Thank you!

It would be grand to hear from you now!

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