New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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OBJECTIVISM                                          97
of his view, positive, concrete evidence which will usually assume one or more of three main forms. First, as suggested above, the critic will claim, citing perhaps Phidias and Raphael as examples, that throughout the centuries the best minds have agreed upon the value of works of art. Or second, he will argue that the use of words like "beauty," "esthetic quality," and "artistic quality" to characterize the most diverse objects implies the existence of a common and intrinsically valuable property. Or third, he will assert that an inherent and permanent value has been given to art objects by the conscious artistic aims of their creators. I shall now consider these three arguments.
(A) Uniformity in Expert Value Judgments?
If uniformity of expert critical opinion exists anywhere, one would expect to find it within a small time span; yet what is more common today than divergent value judgments? Distinguished art historians and critics frequently hold diverse and, occasionally, even opposite opinions concerning both contemporary art and that of the past. Now when A in a college art department rates Picasso's "Guernica" highly and considers the Metropolitan "Kouros" artistically insignificant while B holds the reverse opinions, one or the other, if objectivism is true, is fortunate that the theory is empirically un-verifiable. Or, how can objectivism reasonably account for the contradictory judgments of eminent modern critics upon the art of Millet? How is it that Wilenski and Fry in their books on French painting entirely ignore this art while Mather considers it the "most significant work of the century"? Or again, what could be more opposed than two currently widespread views concerning baroque art: the one regarding it as the degeneration and disruption, the other regarding it as the culmination and flowering of the classical Renaissance style? Extreme disagreement occurs among the best writers, moreover, in all critical fields. Thus in a criticism of For Whom