Monday, October 13, 2008

My "Issue" Essay, NO.5

TOPIC: ISSUE144 - "It is the artist, not the critic,* who gives society something of lasting value."

*a person who evaluates works of art, such as novels, films, music, paintings, etc.
WORDS: 560 TIME: 01:08:52 DATE: 2008-10-13 15:30:50

When discussing who bring something of lasting value to our society, we should clarify what is lasting value. Obviously, the masterpieces by great artists as well as our understanding of those arts are both with great values. When considering those values, I cannot agree with the statement. Instead, I argue that both artists and critics have contributed to our society.

To begin with, I concede that artists are the creators of those great works. Without their efforts, these masterpieces would never exist. Unlike the field of science and technologies, artists can work independently, with no needs to studying former achievements. Art is an innovation which is full with creativities and inspirations, so that any single piece of work can be created by the only artist. Without Michelangelo, our standard of a perfect male body might be very different. Without Shakespeare, we could never be impressed by the great tragedies like Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. Without Beethoven, so many symphonies and sonatas will be lost. Without Vincent van Gogh, perhaps the post-impression style will never be established. Those and other great art pieces can be created by only artists themselves, so artists must be the chief contributors for the aesthetics in our society.

Nevertheless, the factors of critics cannot be overlooked as they also put value into arts. First of all, critics’ comments- whether positive or negative- can both help the artists to improve their works and performances. Like ordinary people, when artists finish their works, they are expected to be praised and recognized. However, some artists were not fortunate enough to enjoy this pleasure. Van Gogh was this kind of artists whose works were not evaluated during his life. Although every piece of his paintings owes a price of more than one million dollars, he failed to exchange a decent meal with his painting. His "failure" finally led to his depression and suicide at an age of only 37. I can confidently presume that had some critics been able to understand Van Gogh's painting earlier and give his works a positive judgment, Van Gogh would not kill himself but continue to create more paintings and even start a new style which we can never imagine. Definitely, Van Gogh's death was a great loss in human history. In this situation, critics can also bring value to our societies.

Secondly, another important function of criticism is that it bridges the gap between the common people and art, which is initially not easy for ordinary people to understand. Artists' works always went in front of the times, thus common people are not easy to comprehend the meaning conveyed by those paintings, music, literature, sculpture, etc. Critics, as professional numbers or even artists themselves, have a clearer understand of those works. Their comments are easier and can help people to enjoy those pioneers' works. When we discuss whether something is valuable or not, we must consider how many people can take advantage from it. The artists created the value, but they do not know how to present them to the society. So critics' work is worthy, for they make the great works acceptable and thus valuable to common people.

In conclusion, my position was different with the speaker's simple one. Besides the creating works finished by the artists, I considered criticism as another important part of the field of art.

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