New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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152                                PROBLEMS IN EVALUATION
sense in attempting qualitatively to compare the "Belleville Breviary" with Chartres Cathedral or a Derain landscape with a Gropius house. On the same basis, however, consider the possible critical education which might result from a qualitative comparison between Giovanni da Bologna's "Mercury" and Bernini's "Longinus" or between a female nude by Maxfield Parrish and one by Renoir. To be sure, the first task of the expert critic in such cases would probably be to analyze the relatively objective properties of each object and to point out differences between those properties of each which can reasonably be compared (e.g., treatment of medium, of three dimensional form, of composition, of movement, and so forth); but, in addition to this fundamental elucidatory task, the criticprovided of course he subscribes to a normative standard of artistic significanceshould state that and explain why the Bernini and the Renoir appear to be the qualitatively superior works of art. For example, he should stress the greater forcefulness and profundity of Bernini's highly expressive interpretation, and he should dwell upon the comparatively rich organization of design, plastic effects, and color harmonies in the Renoir. Or again (to select an example in which qualitative differences are evidently less marked), if a critic is comparing Rubens' "Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus" in Munich with Delacroix' "Abduction of Rebecca" in New York, he will be wise to explain why, on the basis of his standard of artistic significance, the Rubens both in form and content seems to him the superior work of art. If critics fail to make such appraisals, they have neglected a major function of criticism. That these appraisals in no way concede the case to objectivism should be apparent from the nature of relativist standards and presuppositions.
The foregoing consideration of relativist criteria attempts only to outline their leading traits and to suggest their importance for judicial criticism. My purpose has been to state