How do critics and galleries influence an audience’s understanding of art?


How do critics and galleries influence an audience’s understanding of art? With specific examples.

Critics and art galleries serve as a major controlling factor in an audiences understanding, interpretation and opinion of a given work. The gallery serves as a portal to art for the audience, thus controlling what is considered art. Whereas critics have the power to decide with which quality some works are perceived with by the audience, thought this may be influence by sociopolical circumstances relevant to the critic. Thus critics and art galleries alike are able to influence an audience’s understanding of art.

In the most superficial sense, since the gallery decides which artworks are worthy of display, they have the ability to filter what art an audience is exposed to. And on a deeper level, the decision making process made by galleries is heavily influenced by that of art critics. For example, if one were to observe a plain white canvas in the MoMA, regardless of the artistic merit of the work, it is assumed that this is art. The effect on the audience caused by this practice extends further, as some works are made to make a viewer feel unintelligent if they don’t ‘understand’ the meaning and significance behind the work. Thus galleries have the power to control what are an audience is subjected to, though the result my be inherit biases in the works chosen.

The overall consensus come to by art critics has the ability to heavily influence both galleries and audiences.  Since art critics are human, any decision they make will be influenced by their sociopolical circumstances at the time – thus creating an inherit bias in the criticisms they supply. There is also fiduciary effects in the decision they make, buying and selling art is a profitable industry – and since the value of a work is directly proportional to the majority of critic’s opinion, their decisions can have major real word effects. For example, the Mona Lisa was always a favourite of art critics, because they could analyse the work extensively as a result of it’s nature. This gave the work world wide critical acclaim as well as being valued as priceless. Thus the critical analysis made by art critics can have a major impact on an audiences interpretation of a given work.

Critics and galleries play an important role in influencing an audience’s understanding of art.  The art gallery serves as a portal to art for the audience, thus controlling what is considered art. Critics have the power to deem some works as artistic as opposed to others, which is an opinion that may be influence by sociopolical circumstances. Critics and art galleries alike are able to influence an audience’s understanding of art.

How do critics and galleries influence an audience’s understanding of art?

Dorothea Lange

White Angel Breadline
Ditched Stalled and Stranded
Dust Bowl

Dorothea Lange was an American documentary photographer, most known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration. Lange’s photographs humanized the consequences of the Great Depression and influenced the development of documentary photography.

Dorothea Lange

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s works are an exploration of time, and the nature of time. In an interview he has referenced to his works as ‘time exposed’. His photography serves as a frozen moment or time capsule representing a series of events. His works may also serve as a metaphor for life, the conflict of life and death.

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Hiroshi Sugimoto

Man Ray

Man Ray is an american born artist who became an influential part of the photographic surrealist and dada movements in the early 1900s. Since these movements originated in europe Man Ray spent most of his life in Paris France, thus Man Ray was essential in bringing these modern concepts to an american audience. Even though his ties to these movements were informal, the artistic influences were clearly present in his works. Despite often being named Man Ray, his birth name is Emmanuel Radnitzky where Man Ray is just an artistic pseudonym. Three of his works are:

Glass Tears
Ingre’s Violin
Noire et Blanche
Man Ray

Eadweard Muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge is most famous for capturing the horse in motion, proving that the horse would release all four hooves from the ground while running:


This is trivialization of his contributions to photography and art. Some interesting facts about Eadweard are:

  • He was on trial for the murder of his wife’s lover.
  • He is regarded as the inventor of motion pictures
  • He only invented the xenograft and high speed photograph in order to win a bet over how many legs were lifted off the ground at a time while a horse runs.
  • He changed his name at the age of 20 from Muggeridge to Muybridge.
Eadweard Muybridge

Steven Pippin


Steven pippin is probably most famous for use use of unconventional cameras. If an aperture can be made, steven pippin will manage to turn it into a camera. Thus as a results his works follow the techniques used in pinhole photography. His works are highly detailed and take hours of planning, for example his work Self-Portrait Made Using a House Converted into a Pinhole Camera’ Steven had to stand still for 8 hours, in order to get the correct exposure. Two examples of his work are: ‘Bath Tub Converted into a Pinhole Camera’ which features a negative of a man standing in a bathroom, from the perspective of a bath. And ‘Self-Portrait with Photo Booth’, where Seven ironically converts a photo booth into a giant pinhole camera, to take a photo of himself standing in the empty (because of the exposure time) streets.

Steven Pippin