Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Nothing If Not Critical: Selected Essays on Art and Artists” as Want to Read:
Nothing If Not Critical: Selected Essays on Art and Artists
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Nothing If Not Critical: Selected Essays on Art and Artists

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  386 ratings  ·  16 reviews
The most controversial art critic in America--author of the bestselling The Fatal Shore and The Shock of the New--looks with love and loathing, wit and authority, at art and artists from the past to the present. Hughes evokes and defines the essences, works and worlds of a wide range of artists.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published February 1st 1992 by Penguin Books (first published April 1st 1990)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Nothing If Not Critical, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Nothing If Not Critical

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,022)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Matt
The majority of this book, besides the introduction and the last few essays, consists of reviews of art shows that Hughes published in times magazine in the early-to-mid 80s. His style of criticism is perfect - it finds that wonderful balance of historical context, biographical information, and (the part that so many critics miss) astute observations in front of the work itself. One of the main themes of his writing is that great art is built on history, rather than (in the prevailing myth of mo...more
Tony
Jul 14, 2010 Tony rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: art
Hughes, Robert. NOTHING IF NOT CRITICAL: SELECTED ESSAYS ON ART AND ARTISTS. (1990). *****. I’m always amazed at what you can find on the remainder shelves at a bookstore. Here’s a real winner. I ‘discovered’ Hughes years ago when I read his book, “The Fatal Shore,” a one-volume history of Australia. It was a winner, too. In this book, he has collected many of his essays from the 1980s, when he was the art critic for Time Magazine. There are also several articles previously published in The New...more
Prooost Davis
Whether or not one agrees with Hughes's critique of the current art market (or that of the 1980s, when this book came out), I don't think one can find much fault with the depth and breadth of his knowledge of art history. "Nothing If Not Critical" serves as a very good survey of Western art. The book, unfortunately, has no illustrations, and a few artists whose work he didn't write essays about are probably missing, but, boy, the writing is wonderful, and Hughes's love of art is evident througho...more
Rik
I love the vigour that Hughes brings to his criticisms, you feel like you're really reading someone that knows his stuff. It's a great way to pick-up insights about artists, and their work, that you may have missed yourself. Nevertheless, given the format (from Time magazine) the essays eventually become somewhat 'one-note.' His feelings about the New York art world start to become repetitive, and his sentences, whilst sometimes very clever, run on way too much.
Cat Bennett
Sep 14, 2013 Cat Bennett rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in art.
Though I read this book in 1990, I love it still. Hughes discusses artists from Caravaggio to Degas, and Sargent, René Magritte, Picasso, Pollock, Hockney and more. Most of these pieces were written for Time Magazine and he brought a deep sense of history and visual memory to a discussion of art that reached masses of people. He looked with his eyes, his mind and his heart. He searched out authenticity and disparaged the phoney or contrived. He looked for meaning and beauty, found it where he co...more
Ellyce
Jul 08, 2007 Ellyce rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: artists, for sure
I can't say I agreed with everything Hughes says in this collection of essays, but his occasional bias is easy to detect and his infrequently pompousness easy to forgive because he frequently has incredible insight into the artists, movements, and art markets that his essays examine.

As a BFA student, I think the book is an valuable glimpse at artists' work which every art student should be well versed in. And aside from all that, its truly interesting and an easy read!
Cris
Oct 22, 2014 Cris rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: art
About halfway here but, I have to say I am disappointed. There is more sensationalism in this book than there is critique. Yes, the essays were meant to amuse as much as to inform, but there is entirely too much name dropping and vague unnatributed references here.
Tara
If you are art history knowledgeable this book will give you a good chuckle and increase your everyday cynicism. If you love smack-talking art reviewers, R.Hughes is your man.
Thomas
Robert Hughes is such a great writer. He loves art and thinks it is important. He hates Robert Mapplethorpe.
Nic
Mar 01, 2008 Nic added it
A terrrific sttraight up read about a collection of contemporary artists and the art market
ayanami
Described to me as the one book to read on art if you only read one book on art.
Anthony
His common sense approach, learned arrogance and discerning wins the day...as usual
Cat Bennett
Rereading! And just as good as when I first read over twenty years ago!
Rich Biggs
Mostly weekly pieces from Time magazine, where Hughes was art critic.
Kevin Tole
THE best book of art criticism from a master critic
David
great.....
Ashley Young
Ashley Young marked it as to-read
Oct 23, 2014
Rous
Rous marked it as to-read
Oct 23, 2014
Fida
Fida marked it as to-read
Oct 22, 2014
Jazreelshuyunyeo
Jazreelshuyunyeo marked it as to-read
Oct 21, 2014
Lucy Lehrman
Lucy Lehrman marked it as to-read
Oct 21, 2014
Noor
Noor marked it as to-read
Oct 21, 2014
Anasthassia Murillo
Anasthassia Murillo marked it as to-read
Oct 21, 2014
jay
jay marked it as to-read
Oct 19, 2014
Mikaela
Mikaela marked it as to-read
Oct 19, 2014
Anett
Anett marked it as to-read
Oct 18, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 34 35 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • What Painting Is
  • Art and Culture: Critical Essays
  • The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers
  • Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings
  • Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art Since Pollock
  • About Looking
  • Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation
  • After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History
  • A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years: 1917-1932 (Vol 3)
  • Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths
  • The Necessity of Art: A Marxist Approach (Peregrine)
  • Old Masters, New World: America's Raid on Europe's Great Pictures
  • The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form
  • Forty-one False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers
  • Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell
  • After Modern Art, 1945-2000
  • Jackson Pollock: An American Saga
  • Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics
48890
Robert Studley Forrest Hughes, AO was an Australian art critic, writer and television documentary maker who has resided in New York since 1970. He was educated at St Ignatius' College, Riverview before going on to study arts and then architecture at the University of Sydney. At university, Hughes associated with the Sydney "Push" – a group of artists, writers, intellectuals and drinkers. Among the...more
More about Robert Hughes...
The Shock of the New The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding Goya Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History Barcelona

Share This Book