Art Principles and History


What makes art “good” or “bad”?

If you’ve gone to see a movie with a friend and argued about whether the film you both just saw was either good or bad, you are familiar with the foundations of art criticism. Your friend might believe The Matrix is a ground-breaking film with profound themes and solid acting, while you might completely disagree. When the arguing has continued for hours after the closing credits, it will perhaps become apparent that nothing you can say about the awkward romance or flashy graphics will convince your friend of your opinion. In the end, you agree to disagree. The same is true when 2 evaluating a work of art. When writing, critics think about the skill of the artist, technique, form, and meaning of a work, but in the end, everything is debatable. Duchamp’s urinal, Fountain, is not inherently good art or bad art. Some critics believe it is profound while others write it off as a stunt. Arguing about whether it is good or bad is not only part of the fun of art appreciation, but is an integral part of art historical scholarship.


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