Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 11. 1963.
Critics Of Salient
Critics Of Salient
In a recent issue of Argot, the editorial writer "J.P." takes us to task for the standard of our art criticism. If we would believe him, Salient is becoming a "paranoids' paradise." We are "soulless, incompetent, and lack even elementary good taste."
He also has some words to say about our critic "W.B.," and his report of the Contemporary Arts Group's third concert. According to "J.P.," the criticism we published consisted of "poison-pen piffle" and "ego-inflation with the latest do-it-yourself kit complete with typewriter and Salient copypaper.
"J.P." is obviously very angry with us. It is probably this fact which allowed him to write an editorial which did such a disservice to art criticism. A scathing attack on someone else's criticism, particularly one calling it "destructive commentary," should be examined to see whether the invective could be as equally well applied to one's own work.
I would submit that this is the case with "J.P.'s" comment on our art criticism. To make this clear, it is only necessary to examine his arguments.
He accuses "W.B." with being "in one instance . . . almost insulting to the artist." If insult is implied by criticism (in the everyday sense of the word) I would agree with him. But if this were the case, there would be small hope for any growth of informed evaluation in this country, because we would forever have to refrain from these "insults." It boils down to a matter of personal opinion, and I do not think that "J.P." has demonstrated anything by raising the matter.
In the rest of his article, "J.P." uses some fine epithets to make his case. They are no substitute for reasoned argument. "J.P.'s" criticism comes to this: Many people he knows disagree with "W.B.'s" evaluation. This is not a reason for describing the standard of criticism in Salient as being at "an all-time low." It is only sufficient reason for disagreeing with out critic. If popular opinion is to be the criterion, then heaven preserve us from such things as the Hepworth bronze fiasco.
"J.P." would do well to note that the fine arts staff of Salient is almost identical to that of last year, whose work he finds so praiseworthy. It seems unlikely that overnight a whole staff has changed its outlook, so perhaps "J.P." could profitably examine the consistency of his own judgment.
I find "J.P.'s" arguments totally unsubstantiated. If he were to use less polemical window-dressing, and more reason in his arguments, perhaps the cause of good criticism might be served.—D.P.W.