Tuesday, 16 March 2010

A Note on Criticism: 2

Terry Barret
Criticizing Photographs

"An Introduction to Understanding Images" by Terry Barrett

Preface page xi…

"...Years of teaching art criticism have convinced me that one of the best ways to appreciate an image is to observe, think, and talk about it. This is what art criticism entails, and it's what this book is about. My goal is to help both beginning and advanced students of photography use the activities of criticism in order to better appreciate and understand photographs. The book is organized according to the major activities of criticism, which Morris Weitz identified in his study of Hamlet criticism, namely, describing, interpreting, evaluating, and theorizing. His breakdown is sufficiently broad so as not to exclude any considerations about criticism, and sufficiently narrow to provide a directed and clear consideration of the complex activities of criticizing photographs. The goal of these activities is always increased appreciation and understanding, or what Harry Broudy, the father of aesthetic education, calls "enlightened cherishing." I like his compound concept because it acknowledges feeling as well as thought, without creating a dichotomy. The following chapters consider describing photographs, interpreting and evaluating them, and theorizing about photography in that order. I've placed major emphasis on the interpretation of photographs because I believe that discussion of meaning is more important than pronouncements of judgement and that interpretation is the most important and rewarding aspect of criticism. Interpretive discussion increases understanding and thus deepens appreciation, whether that appreciation is ultimately negative or positive....."

With a special thank you to Heather Lees for the above quotation.


Barrett, T ( 2003) Criticizing Photographs New York: McGraw-Hill

Terry Barrett, educator, author, artist: http://www.terrybarrettosu.com/

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