Art Criticism: How About That Putin Fella?

I don’t criticize every piece of art that I see, or even every piece of art that needs criticism.

I should clarify that. I don’t criticize every piece of art that I see, or even every piece of art that needs criticism, as far as most of you know. After spending a day with me, you’d know that I have something to say about most art. I save my written critiques for truly special works.

There really isn’t art that is more special than the pieces created for an exhibition honoring Russian president Vladimir Putin’s sixty-second birthday. These paintings, produced by artists who chose to remain anonymous, depict Putin as a Herculean character taking on modern issues facing his nation. I’ll be discussing my impressions of these pieces for your benefit. I’m also hoping that my criticism will help the artists who produced these paintings be better artists by Mr. Putin’s sixty-third birthday.

Painting One

(artist unknown, photo credit – BBC)

The first painting depicts Mr. Putin fighting Terror. He is literally in a fight with Terror. Putin doesn’t care for metaphors; when it is time for a fight, he’s going to fight. Read the rest of this entry »


Art Criticism: George Washington, By Gilbert Stuart

Chances are you’ve got a Gilbert Stuart painting in your pocket. Of course, if you live outside the US or are having some financial difficulties you might not. The picture of George Washington on a U.S. one dollar bill is from a Stuart portrait of the first president of the United States.

Gilbert produced more than one thousand portraits during his career. Not all of those paintings were of George Washington, but a lot of them were. Washington was a favorite topic for Gilbert. Not just any art critic would take on the task of critiquing a very skilful portrait artist on a painting of that artist’s favorite subject.

I’m not just any art critic.

Today, I am going to discuss a particular Washington portrait by Gilbert. The original is at the Museum Of Fine Arts in Boston. A reproduction of this painting hangs in Boston’s Faneuil Hall. Read the rest of this entry »


Art Criticism: Brick Oven Pizza

One of the wonderful things about art is how it touches you when you least expect it. Today’s art critique is an example of that.

Last night, I stopped for a bite at a favorite restaurant. You might expect me to say that I found this painting in the restaurant. If you do, you’re wrong. This painting touched me when you didn’t expect it to. One of the unexpected ways that art can touch a person is from the window of a clothing consignment shop when all that person really wants is some gnocchi. Read the rest of this entry »


Art Criticism: Baker On A Unicycle

The other day I woke up hungry. I wasn’t thinking about the blog, or my extensive work as a critic of visual art. I was focused on fixing the hunger problem

As I sat down in a Panera Bread shop with a plate of not-hungry-anymore, I started considering that I’ve struggled in my search for topics recently. I stared off into space and then it hit me that the answer to my problem was right in front of me. I’ve found three other works of art that needed criticism while I was in restaurants – here was the fourth!

Good readers, allow me to introduce today’s work of art. Read the rest of this entry »


Why The Long Face? An Art Critique

I’ve known people who’ve said “I don’t feel like Chinese food today”. None of the people I’ve heard say that were Chinese. I’ll never say that either.

For some reason, after several thousand Chinese lunches, it occurred to me that Chinese restaurants are repositories of art. Most have some sculpture; almost all have at least one painting.

Today’s edition of my art criticism series takes on the painting that woke me up to the treasure troves of art that I’ve been missing.

Behold Read the rest of this entry »


Art Criticism: An Articulate Lion

We all know the lion as “The King Of The Jungle”. The lions might have trademarked that phrase because none of the other animals seem to challenge the issue. Trademark or not, we accept it because we’ve heard it again and again. I’ve always thought it was a pretentious title.

Besides, the jungle holds more than one lion, but there can be only one king. The fact that there are so many “kings” probably contributes to the jungle being a poorly organized place.

And all lions get the “King Of The Jungle” title. It doesn’t matter if it applies to them or not. A lion who lives in a zoo is likely the king of his enclosure, but it would be hard for that cat to argue he has any influence over jungle affairs. It hardly seems fair that a kept lion bears the same title as a working lion.

Today’s art critique has nothing to do with jungle monarchy. It delves into the realm of animal art because it is a painting of a lion. Read the rest of this entry »


Art Criticism: Our Earliest Mammalian Ancestor

Big news last week – scientists have developed a concept of what the earliest mammal looked like.

Finding out what the earliest mammal looked like is critical. That animal had a lot of responsibility. It is the ancestor to elephants, cats, dogs, monkeys, monkeys who ride dogs, even humans.

Imagine what we could learn from an animal that could handle that responsibility. I am the ancestor to one person and the pressure…my God, the pressure! If I multiply that pressure by billions of species and billions of individuals of each of those species, I get an animal that must have been superb. The scientists didn’t come up with superb.

Read the rest of this entry »


Art Criticism: A Penguin’s Cold, Cold Eye

Art does more than just make our hearts soar. Sometimes it helps promote a cause or a business. Centuries ago, even churches promoted themselves by funding the creation some of the great works of antiquity. The painting up for critique today falls into the category of promotional art.

The artist created this work on the outside of a very large outdoor freezer/ice vending machine. Canvas is for pansies. Snap dragons and daisies are good on canvas too. If you’re going to paint a penguin, the best place to do it is on an ice vending machine.

Let’s examine today’s painting. Read the rest of this entry »