1. According to Bartlett, what is criticism and how is it misunderstood?
To Bartlett criticism is a process bent towards understanding, a science in that it is best when impartial and callous. A process of breaking things apart in order to expose what they are made of and how that effects what it is. The misconception is that it is a judgment bent on staking claims of wrong and right-good and bad. The word is actually misunderstood much like the word judgmental. To be judgmental is not wrong, it is only when your judgments precede any actual interaction or effort to understand that you are stuck in the cycle of being a judgmental/critical prick(the negative connotation). To Bartlett criticism is a form of appreciation. A form of it that's not mindlessly positive nor aggressively negative.
2.How does he distinguish bad and good criticism? Can you give an example from past critiques of an example of both?
For him bad criticism involves pretension, vague arguments, and lack in point and direction. They are critiques that simply state opinion and offer no support as to where it may have come from. He speaks of a good critique as a situation in which both the artist and the critic walk away with a better understanding of how the piece presents its intention and how that intention led to a particular reaction. At least it should involve some discourse that benefits further understanding of some sort. An example of a good critique that I have experienced was when Erica came up to me and said, " Hey, Enrique! You're too fuckin lazy- go make some art." This was a good critique because it was observant, honest, to the point and clear but most importantly galvanizing. An example of a bad critique was at a portfolio review day. The line for RISD was longest but I had heard it was a good school so I went through it. After all that waiting the guy looks through my portfolio and simply asks, " have you ever thought about dressing people up and then taking pics of them?" The only conclusion I could come to is that my portfolio must have been so dull and bland that he couldn't even address it. That, or he was an idiot. Which would you guess I prefer to believe?
3. What might Bartlett argue is the point of criticism in a situation like an art school critique class?
I'm sure that he would argue that by going through the painful process of criticism in an art school critique class the students would be pushed to think about their own art and the art around them in new ways. He would say that it helps people understand the benefits of a good critique, and always looking at your own work as well as yourself with a critical mind. He would say that if an unexamined life is not worth living then neither is life without criticism in an art school critique class. He would most definitely agree that the main point is to get all our heads out our asses, and realize how much there is out there that needs criticizing/appreciating.