Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Robert Genn's criteria for judging art

October Song, Robert Genn

For years I have subscribed to The Painter's Keys, an e-newsletter formerly published by Canadian painter Robert Genn and, since his death in 2014, continued by his daughter Sara, also a painter. The newsletter covers a broad range of topics of interest to artists in all media, and to art aficionados. Often an older post is pulled from the files and re-published.

A recent post, originally published in 2005, outlined the criteria that Robert Genn proposed to evaluate a work of art. Occasionally, Genn served as a judge or juror, and he would score the entries using the following "evaluation points":
  • compositional integrity, 
  • sound craftsmanship, 
  • colour sensitivity, 
  • creative interest, 
  • design control, 
  • gestural momentum, 
  • artistic flair, 
  • expressive intensity, 
  • professional touch, 
  • surface quality, 
  • intellectual depth, 
  • visual distinction, 
  • technical challenge and 
  • artistic audacity. 

He wrote,
"If you were to assign a maximum value of 10 to each of these fourteen points, an almost impossible top mark would be 140. Loosely speaking, a total of around 50 is often enough for an “in.” My system doesn’t favour realism over non-objective work, but in my jury duty hard-won realism often wins out with these points."

Grove with Yellow Green, Robert Genn, 

While I would have trouble distinguishing "artistic flair" from "artistic audacity", I would not argue with the double-weighting of this quality. The vocabulary of the checklist is helpful when I try to articulate my response to a particular work, whether it is my own or other's.

The original article may be found here. The terms are further explained in a subsequent post.

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