rembrandt, scat, blasphemy, etc.


The curious and often contentious relationship between artists and critics has a long, if not always noble, history. That’s as it should be. Friction between practice and opinion is inevitable. Sometimes it can shed light; often it prompts comedy, intentional and otherwise. The critic has been the target of some deliciously caustic works of art. Hell hath no fury—or insight—like an artist scorned. Just ask Honoré Daumier. A collection of artworks in which the critic is the main focus (or the butt of the joke) would make a delightful and, one would think, instructive exhibition. And if an enterprising curator or art historian were to put together such a show, a Rembrandt etching called Satire on Art Criticism would merit a prominent place. Few artists have plumbed the depths of the human animal as sympathetically as Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)—but his sympathy had its limits, at least when it came to art critics. In Satire on Art Criticism (1644), the critic is seen on the street looking at a picture and surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. He has donkey ears, and entwined on his arm is a snake—heavy-handed symbols of stupidity and envy.

more from The Observer here.