Art has long been accepted as comprising a visual language that communicates cultural values and qualitative meanings through its subject matter, functions, and stylistic characteristics. However, not until this century has visual art also been considered as a language system of signs and symbols amenable to systematic verbal analysis and evaluation. Consistent with this development, in recent years art educators have increasingly proposed that art instruction include various art criticism activities. This author personally considers an interest in art criticism to be a positive development for the field of art education inasmuch as it offers a much-needed counterbalance to the now-predominant emphasis on studio production. Moreover, if art education is to be in the educational mainstream and to have an equal share of the budgetary pie, art instruction will need to have a strong verbal component that will render it fairly compatible with the goals and instructional methodologies of general education. Art criticism meets this requirement in that it depends on a specialized language code requiring formal instruction.
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