Art Principles and History


What is the difference between an art historian and an art critic?

While art historians are interested in the meaning of a work of art and its cultural and historical context, the job of the art critic is to evaluate—to decide whether or not a particular piece of art is “good” or “successful.” Generally, critics view art at galleries and museums, or in private collections, and they write their personal opinions about the art they see. Like the definition of art itself, however, the definition of art criticism is murky at times, and James Elkins, a well-respected critic and scholar, raises questions about how the two are differentiated, noting that art historians, along with their art critic colleagues, are known to share their personal opinions as well.


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