Art Critics, Eggs, and
James J. Roberts
An art critic asked me for
my thoughts concerning what
makes "good" art. This was a mistake on his
part, so I patiently demurred - until he insistently opined that, "There is no such
thing as 'bad art'."
I concurred, suggesting that there is also no such thing as
This led to a protracted and
sometimes heated discussion about art, artists,
eggs, chickens, and chicken sh-t. I concluded the
tete a tete, by pronouncing that I preferred fowl
to foul critics, who, in my opinion consistently out-fouled bad eggs or the chickens
that produced them.
Most art critics have eaten both good and bad eggs in their
time, of course, but most are incapable of
distinguishing one from the other -- never mind
being able to actually lay even a
moderately bad egg...never mind a good one! This
makes me suspicious of their level of competence to
judge the worth of a chicken, its eggs...or art.
Sharp, good critics, on the other
hand, have never laid, layed, lain or even eaten any kind of egg
(good or bad) for they revere eggs so much for their
perfect shape, size, and nuances of color, that they daren't touch
them for fear of ruining the essence of their contextual existence
in a non-existential sort of historically contextualized way.
What does that mean?
I don't know. Ask an art critique.
Only they use or understand that kind of multisyllabic
So, where was I? Oh,
yes: What, therefore, can critics know
about art...or the fully savoring of an egg, for that
matter They're petrified of both and understand
As for the great growling
mass of mediocre critics; they devour every egg they see -
good or bad - and then cluck wildly about the "experience"
to all who'll listen. Good or bad, they rave about
own cognitions. But every egg they eat, they
eat the same damned way, scrambled, with salt and
pepper, which, by the way,
is also how they think - scrambled and in black and
They have neither the
patience or palate for the intricacies of the soufflé.
No "eye" for the sunburst yellow eye of a
upper...nor the remotest "feel" for the undulating
sexuality expressed in the charged corpulescence of a
pair of properly poached eggs lounging on a steamy bed
of smoldering hash or lying astride risque wedges of whole wheat toast...a
ménage a trios?
I have no damned opinion whatsoever
about art, except for the fact that I know what I like
and I know what I don't. As for art criticism and
critics: I have more faith in
chickens that lay good (or even bad) eggs than I have in
any art critic who can't
lay either. Critics, often as not, can't smell any
difference between a rotten egg and a golden one, how
then can we
expect them to know good vs. bad art? They haven't
the nose for it!
They confuse repugnant with
"good" art no matter how awful the smell or how
revolting the presentation.
Chickens, on the other hand,
now chickens darn well know when they have plopped out a bummer
of an egg.
They strut away from it and think a moment, and then
they pretend they didn't
So, when it comes to a
critic v. a chicken on the subject of identifying "good" vs.
"bad" art, I'll go
with a chicken's opinion every time. They have a better
record of being right about things than critics...and
can tell a rotten egg from a good one ten times outta
(Mr. Roberts, a
member of the League of American Poets, is published in
numerous print and electronic publications and
is a frequent radio and television guest. His
poetry also will appear in the soon to be released,
"Treasury of American Poetry - III", ISBN:
The author may be reached by
agents or readers at:
Write to James J, Roberts