This question is motivated by:
1) I am a young artist who is still trying to figure out what art criticism is all about. I've started to notice different strata within art literature. For example, you have what I like to call "high criticism" (see Rosalind Krauss), and on the other hand you have works like this
. Watered-down summaries of great artist
's lives and works...PBS specials perhaps too sentimental to be labelled as criticism. And everything in-between. Each stratum has their own methods and cliches - each skews its subject matter in its own way.
2) I did some HCI research (wiki
) in undergrad and coded a lot of qualitative responses. So, as I now read art literature and I begin to see common tactics in the way authors explain art and the accompanying narrative of artists' lives
, I start to think, has anyone ever coded
these? I went to SIGGCHI and saw a lot of studies where researchers do a meta-analysis of design, i.e. "how do designers design?" In fact, analyzing some aspect of the design process seems to be quite in vogue.
So who has done this for art literature? The literature is so important to how we understand art history that it seems worthwhile to try and understand it from a higher level. Of course, works of criticism will often pivot back and forth between considering the work at hand and looking at the meta level. The most interesting answers to my question may well be works that are plain old art criticism, or cultural theory. I have read bits of Adorno, Benjamin, Barthes, Foucalt, etc. and I would love to hear more about that stuff. But I am also curious about the more data-driven social sciences methodology.
Aside: there may be a relationship between the high-to-low criticism spectrum I outlined above and the degree to which it can be reduced through analysis. For example - innovative works of criticism are probably self-reflexive. TV documentaries on renaissance painting are probably not, and tend to stick to the same themes. I don't want to discount studies of the latter...in fact I'd find that really interesting.