Michael Newall

Michael Newall

University of Kent

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Crits, Consensus and Community

Adelaide Workshop 2017

This paper develops a philosophical account of a controversial, but central and distinctive feature of contemporary art school education: group critiques, or crits as they are widely known. A notable detractor, the art critic Dave Hickey, thinks that they “preserve the verbal over the visual and allow faculty members to poison and manipulate peer relations among their students.” Crits, I argue, do have a distinctive educational value, which is based on a process of establishing a consensus among a community of viewers. I also argue another point based on this hypothesis, that crits play an important and often unsuspected role in instilling a concept of art that is controversial in contemporary art theory: pluralism.