The Fine Art of Judging Art

We do not judge great art, it judges us said Caroline Gordon. A rather thankless job, this job of comparing and valuing art. A necessary job and one that Elizabeth Gunter takes on through the nature of her job as Professor at the Visual Arts faculty of the University of Stellenbosch. Elizabeth opened the 6th Tollman Bouchard Finlayson Art Award as part of the 2019 Hermanus FynArts Festival and spoke about the art of judging art. This Professor at the University of Stellenbosch’s Visual Arts Department used to be a colleague of mine way back when I lectured at the College of Cape Town. She knows her art, how to assess what she sees and brave enough to impart the journey of judging on her audience.

At Bouchard Finlayson Elizabeth reflected on the tondi – the circular works of art – entered for the competition and said that there are many more winners than the four who received prizes. This was the second time that Elizabeth judged the Art Awards. Each year it’s different and this year’s exhibition had the greatest diversity. As far as competitions go there is always some controversy about the winning works but the selection of the winning pieces was here Elizabeth confirmed there was consensus amongst the three judges. There were 240 entries and it was necessary to wilt down the selection. After 2 or 3 rounds of sifting the judges considered the following criteria:

  • Experience
  • Idea and conceptual development
  • Theme – Harmony for this year’s competition
  • Extent of visual communication
  • Composition
  • Crafting & Editing
  • Consolidation of all of the above.

Elizabeth told the audience that art prettifies but also need to serve a greater purpose. The work needs to gel in a personal voice and speak to the theme. Further, there should be meaning and the work should be well executed. Almost like the 7th year of Hermanus FynArts. #HermanusFynArts2019

# Experienidea and conceptual development

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