Review Criteria

The following criteria, is used to review the different art work in the “Reviewed Work” section of this site, which is generally reserved to painting and sculpture.

A “Work of Art”

Note that the term “work of art,” used in the following criteria, refers to a higher form of art compared to that often referred to as  ‘decorative,’ or perhaps ‘naïve’.

To be considered a “work of art”, a painting or sculpture should satisfy certain criteria:

  • Be technically successful and respect the fundamentals of aesthetics: The materials, harmony (of colors, in brush strokes, with surface textures), and geometry (forms, proportions, distribution), must all work together.
  • The work expresses what the artist wants to express visually, and in an interesting way: If it is not interesting visually and/or can not be properly expressed visually, the artist should consider expressing it with another media other than a visual one. The work can be elaborate or minimalistic but it has to have visual impact. An example of the shortcomings that we are talking about here would be the work of Jean-Pierre Raynaud, whose product is the thoroughly mundane flower pot (a copy of and in its most popular form none the ‘less’). This may be art (conceptual art to use the precise term for it), but it is not a ‘work of art’, which carries connotations of technical and intellectual prowess, as well as representing a certain visual marvel for the spectator.
  • Be original: A work which respects the criteria mentioned here and which is truly original at the same time represents the highest achievement in the domain of fine art. However, such ‘revolutionary’ art is quite rare. It may be that a work is only original in the same way that every human being is original and by corollary, any man-made ‘creation’ on his part is original. If this is the case, what will make it a ‘work of art’ is respecting/executing the other criteria mentioned here in a masterly way. Marketing forces may be such that an artist tries to convince himself of more than this, however, he is most probably just deceiving himself. A stronger art statement on his part might be to simply admit the truth. Attention: to the extent the artist’s quest for originality compromises the other criteria that define a work of art, his work is distanced from being a work of art. An example of an artist producing valid works of art without being revolutionary is Jonas Burgert (to take an example I have seen recently).
  • The idea should be significant: In fine art ‘significant’ equates with ‘humanity’. The idea behind it, driving it, should be human, either directly or indirectly. An obvious example of direct would be a figurative work depicting some aspect of the human condition, along with masterful technique to convey it. An example of indirect could be that of an abstract work, in which case, the humanistic expression may be the heart and soul put into—or the cleverness seen in—the creative act, which naturally speaks of our nature or being. The loose definition that is given here gives the artist all reasonable leeway in that which is necessary to satisfy this criteria. What isn’t necessary is the phony dialectic the artist and/or art merchant too often come up with to try to demonstrate how the artist has found “that one thing,” to borrow an expression from the popular vernacular.
    In effect, today, it may be too much–to expect an artist to contribute as much as what is often attributed to the likes of Monet, Cezanne, or Picasso, who are credited not only for fundamental originality in their creative act, or style, but for making a fundamental philosophical statement on life,  and this, through the style itself. With Monet, we learned that having an ‘impression’ of life is the best we can do when observing it. Cézanne’s ‘building blocks’ (delimiting brush strokes) were an attempt at understanding what life is made up of. And Picasso concluded that if you can’t fully understand it, then life is absurd. Indeed, ‘fundamental’ may be too much to expect today now that they, and others, have already laid so much of the ‘fundamental’ foundation. And of course, the same recognition must be given those artists who brought to a logical conclusion the inevitable “abstractification” of the world we see, notably: Delauney, De Kooning, Rothko, and Pollock.
  • To Sum Up: As one can see, a work of art is a combination of things, which should not be surprising. Anything and everything–with all the more emphasis on those things worthy of our interest–is made up of a combination of things. Beware of the artist who tries to make you think that through his work, which appears to be nothing (because it really is nothing), he has found that “one thing”, that one special thing. An impressionable viewer may react to it as such but this is purely psychological. The viewer’s mind is only processing a feeling that is naturally within all of us: the feeling that there is something missing, that we are looking for something, an answer…to some mystery, presumably the proverbial mystery of life. But the truth of the situation is that the ‘work’ on the part of this type of artist is nothing more than an illusion and the reaction on the part of the viewer, a delusion.

These criteria have been used to judge the work in the section “Reviewed Work”.