Critical Read

Critical Read Critical Read is a nonprofit, nonpartisan publishing company dedicated to making art history more inclusive and discoverable.
Critical Read is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

Critical Read is is a nonprofit digital publication curating non-academic arts and cultural criticism. Critical Read uncovers the true stories behind the art that changed our world.

Mission: Critical Read tells the true stories of the fine, literary and performing arts.

This summer use the hashtag #criticaltweet to tell us what you think about the art and performance you're seeing. We'll ...
06/20/2019

This summer use the hashtag #criticaltweet to tell us what you think about the art and performance you're seeing. We'll publish selected micro-reviews in our newsletter.

See our recently published series reexamining the Mona Lisa. Featuring the 'Kodachrome Mona Lisa' by Ilene Gold pictured...
06/11/2019

See our recently published series reexamining the Mona Lisa. Featuring the 'Kodachrome Mona Lisa' by Ilene Gold pictured below.

Ken Thomson is one of a new generation of composers whose music defies categorization. “I studied classical clarinet f...
06/10/2019

Ken Thomson is one of a new generation of composers whose music defies categorization. “I studied classical clarinet for years, and to some degree, for many of those years I think I never really expected to be a musician,” Thomson says. Photo by Ivan Singer.

Critical Read's cover photo
05/02/2019

Critical Read's cover photo

NEW: In honor of Leonardo da Vinci's 500th, we asked writers and artists for their take on the 'Mona Lisa'.
05/02/2019
Seventeen Ways of Looking at the Mona Lisa

NEW: In honor of Leonardo da Vinci's 500th, we asked writers and artists for their take on the 'Mona Lisa'.

We asked writers and artists to show us what the ‘Mona Lisa’ means in today’s selfie-seeking, Kardashianized world.

Happy International Dance Day! Celebrate with a deep dive into one of the most influential ballet's of the 21st century,...
04/29/2019
Sudden Flash

Happy International Dance Day! Celebrate with a deep dive into one of the most influential ballet's of the 21st century, 'In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.'

Twenty-first century ballet arrived thirteen years early with William Forsythe's 'In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.'

The deadline is April 15!
03/21/2019

The deadline is April 15!

Critical Read wants to know how you view the Mona Lisa. How does the painting make you feel? Is it even possible to separate the painting from its mythic status and appreciate it as a work of art? What does the Mona Lisa mean in 2019? Each published essay will receive $100 and be part of the Mona Lisa package in May. Deadline: April 15.

https://criticalread.submittable.com/submit/136672/the-mona-lisa-in-2019

NEW! "It’s a colossal script, with a role as immense as Hamlet, and on nearly every page it elucidates Ned’s pushine...
02/11/2019
You Have Changed Me Forever

NEW! "It’s a colossal script, with a role as immense as Hamlet, and on nearly every page it elucidates Ned’s pushiness and righteous anger. How does an audience go on a journey, and root for, a disagreeable character?" - Tim Cummings

An actor remembers his role in 'The Normal Heart.'

Begin at the End
02/04/2019
Begin at the End

Begin at the End

Ken Thomson exemplifies a new generation of composers tasked with picking up the pieces of music history.

NEW: Kathleen Toohill on Mark Twain:"Throughout his life in the public eye, Twain attempted to pull off a delicate balan...
01/28/2019
Letters for Another World

NEW: Kathleen Toohill on Mark Twain:

"Throughout his life in the public eye, Twain attempted to pull off a delicate balancing act—to provoke but not repel; to scandalize only to the extent that he remained an in-demand public figure. He was a humorist and a cynic with a sharp, curmudgeonly wit who skewered and satirized hypocrisy and injustice with an eagerness bordering on glee. But according to Tom Quirk, professor emeritus at the University of Missouri and author of the 2007 book Mark Twain and Human Nature, Twain needed the money and so had to find a compromise between being principled about his private beliefs and being popular. The result was that he sometimes censored himself."

From "Letters for Another World," the first in our Origins series.

America's original humorist was a deeply cynical man who censored his most controversial writings.

What were your favorite images when you were a child? How did your taste evolve as you grew older? "Growing up, I was no...
12/06/2018
Stop and Stare

What were your favorite images when you were a child? How did your taste evolve as you grew older?

"Growing up, I was not interested in art. Although my parents exposed me to it throughout childhood, no piece spoke to my child’s mind. I had seen art since I was a baby, as my mother had hung a copy of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in my parents’ bedroom, and I would always look at it when I went inside. Though the painting did not appeal to me then, I understood my mother loved it, and when I was a young boy that was enough. As my parents were teachers, they wanted my brother and me to appreciate art as a study of culture, and because of that we often came to Fort Worth to the Kimbell Art Museum. There, my brother and I saw exhibitions by great painters such as Matisse and Picasso. But I would merely pass by the paintings and sculptures, recognizing that they were great because my parents said they were great, without appreciating their beauty. Sometimes I wanted to be as impressed with the artwork as were my mother and father, but nothing caught my fancy. I was just ten, and my understanding of the world was limited by my child’s experience. This did not deter my Mom and Dad, who kept exposing us to artwork as the years passed by, thinking that I would develop an appreciation as I grew older."

-Carl Wade Thompson

A painting takes a boy beyond his own experience and into his family’s history.

Today is #GivingTuesday and we invite you to support Critical Read in making art history more inclusive and accessible. ...
11/27/2018

Today is #GivingTuesday and we invite you to support Critical Read in making art history more inclusive and accessible. Help us bring the true stories of the arts to a wide readership. Critical Read is a 501c3 tax-exempt organization. Donate today: https://criticalread.givingfuel.com/support-us

11/21/2018

From now till December 10 get any Critical Read feature for half off with coupon code FEAST. Happy Thanksgiving!

Rediscover Susan Glaspell's groundbreaking 1921 play, 'Inheritors' with our latest feature, 'An Open House.' Author Rob ...
11/20/2018
An Open House

Rediscover Susan Glaspell's groundbreaking 1921 play, 'Inheritors' with our latest feature, 'An Open House.'

Author Rob Hardy explains 'Inheritors' is the first American play to deal with political issues and events as they affect ordinary American lives. It's a play that asks, What does it mean to be an American? Yet as the ur-text of American political drama, why did 'Inheritor's suffer such neglect?

#ArtHasHistory #DiscoverArtsHiddenHistory #CriticalRead

America’s pioneer political drama saw the nation falling short of its ideals. Almost one hundred years later, the play is more relevant than ever.

#ArtHasHistory #DiscoverArtsHiddenHistory #CriticalReadIn 1982 a college student disrupted a centuries-old architectural...
11/08/2018
Anti-Monument

#ArtHasHistory #DiscoverArtsHiddenHistory #CriticalRead

In 1982 a college student disrupted a centuries-old architectural language with her conceptual design for a new war memorial. Now considered an American icon, Maya Lin's design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was initially so controversial that it had to be altered to appease special interest groups.

In "Anti-Monument," writer Catesby Leigh examines Lin's design concept, explaining the controversy it caused and defining the memorial's legacy. Monuments determine our remembrance of the past. And as Leigh writes, "[the] community that denies the presence of its past — that is, the aspects of its past worthy of reverence and emulation — is doomed."

A conceptual design for a war memorial prioritizes the individual over the community, upending a centuries-old architectural language.

How does art influence the way we think about place? "I know I’m supposed to skim over the cracks — the viewpoint an...
11/03/2018
Interloper

How does art influence the way we think about place?

"I know I’m supposed to skim over the cracks — the viewpoint angles me towards the white daybreak shimmering on the horizon — but I’m fixated on the drop-off darkening behind the light-spattered rocks, I’m fixated on the precipice, the murky truth dawning in the yawn beyond the foreground. I also know I’m supposed to reject this as a symbolic interpretation, false realism, romantic candlelight softening the truth: after all, this is an image of The West That Never Was, a vacant paradise, ignoring the continuous presence of the Washoe, the Shoshone, the Paiutes who slipped through Donner Pass years before the unprepared, squabbling pioneers who didn’t recognize their trespass until too late." - Kristine Langley Mahler, author of "Interloper"

Two paintings lead a tourist homeward, through a West that never was.

Has a work of art caused you to rethink a personal relationship? "There are still moments, when she is too far away to w...
11/02/2018
The Space Between

Has a work of art caused you to rethink a personal relationship?

"There are still moments, when she is too far away to whisper secrets to, that jealousy returns, but like a meditation, I turn my mind to 'The Cathedral'. I see the space made sacrosanct between two palms, and I smile, and watch that sliver of jealousy recede and let my imagination make art of the space between."

-Spencer Nitkey, author of "The Space Between"

A young man discovers the value of distance in matters of the heart.

#ArtHasHistory #DiscoverArtsHiddenHistory #CriticalRead
11/01/2018

#ArtHasHistory #DiscoverArtsHiddenHistory #CriticalRead

Online since 2016, Critical Read is a digital magazine and publishing company dedicated to bringing the stories of the f...
10/30/2018

Online since 2016, Critical Read is a digital magazine and publishing company dedicated to bringing the stories of the fine, literary, and performing arts to a wide readership. We tell the true stories of the arts, and we're looking for writers. Sign up now to learn more: http://eepurl.com/bDwn5f

"Isn’t that what great art is capable of doing? Rearranging the furniture of one’s mind?" - Spencer Nitkey

Take a deep dive with writer Hugh Ryan into David Wojnarowicz's 'A Fire In My Belly.' #ArtHasHistory
09/27/2018
About Face

Take a deep dive with writer Hugh Ryan into David Wojnarowicz's 'A Fire In My Belly.' #ArtHasHistory

An obscure art film raises the question of censorship at a major art institution.

New today, from writer Rob Hardy:
08/30/2018
An Open House

New today, from writer Rob Hardy:

America’s pioneer political drama saw the nation falling short of its ideals. Almost one hundred years later, the play is poised for revival.

Critical Read is looking for writers! We want reported stories and personal essays for our fall issue, Origins. Check ou...
07/10/2018
Critical Read Submission Manager

Critical Read is looking for writers! We want reported stories and personal essays for our fall issue, Origins. Check out the creative calls at our Submittable page: https://criticalread.submittable.com/submit

Critical Read brings the true stories behind works of the fine, literary and performing arts to a wide readership. Our artwork biographies are grounded in fact, with an emphasis on the people, places and things that make the  arts an important part of American life. Our stories emphasize that the a...

There's a new site for New York theater reviews.“We want to keep our voice, and we feel that we need to keep encouragi...
03/20/2018
Broadway Critics Launch New Site for Theater Reviews

There's a new site for New York theater reviews.

“We want to keep our voice, and we feel that we need to keep encouraging good, interesting theater,” said Steven Suskin, the critic and musical theater historian (“Second Act Trouble,” “The Sound of Broadway Music”) who’s written reviews for Variety and HuffPost.

There’s a new place for New York theater reviews. Those aren’t words you expect to hear these days, not as traditional media outlets scale back their theater coverage and more and more critics lose…

"When done right, what students learn from a good English education is how to think and how to parse language. They lear...
01/12/2018
Opinion | Devaluing a humanities education ultimately devalues humanity itself

"When done right, what students learn from a good English education is how to think and how to parse language. They learn how to identify nuance and complexity and subtle messaging. They learn about the complicated interactions between words, personal experience, and truth.

"These are not fringe skills. These skills are fundamental, not only to the development of an individual human mind and to our capacity for forming deep and varied relationships with one another, but also to the continued functioning of a democratic society."

-- Mandy Pipher on the importance of a humanities education, in the The Toronto Star:

The skills learned from earning an English degree are fundamental, not only to the development of an individual human mind and to our capacity for forming deep and varied relationships with one another, but also to the continued functioning of a democratic society.

From Vanity Fair: "While I had the misfortune to see Bright in a theater, most people will simply press 'play' out of cu...
12/22/2017
The best critic slams of Will Smith's 'astoundingly bad' Netflix movie 'Bright'

From Vanity Fair: "While I had the misfortune to see Bright in a theater, most people will simply press 'play' out of curiosity on their Roku remote. I am willing to concede that this might elevate the experience a little; the ability to take a quick trip to the kitchen or restroom after shouting 'no, don’t pause it' to your partner on the couch will be liberating."

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/entertainthis/2017/12/21/best-critic-slams-smiths-astoundingly-bad-netflix-movie-bright/973182001/

Reviews are in for the Netflix original 'Bright' and critics are panning the picture and its star Will Smith.

NewPages.com
12/10/2017
NewPages.com

NewPages.com

Remember, #writers, Critical Read publishes true stories about transformative experiences with literary, fine, and performing arts. Check out past work online and consider submitting your own stories. http://ow.ly/9ybp30gHldY

Calling writers!
11/21/2017
NewPages.com

Calling writers!

Critical Read is currently accepting submissions of personal essays regarding stories of fine, literary, and performing arts and their transformative experiences. http://ow.ly/9ybp30gHldY

Houston arts groups still feeling shocks from Hurricane Harvey:"The entire momentum of the city has been disrupted," sai...
11/20/2017
After Harvey, Houston arts groups on precarious footing as critical holiday season nears

Houston arts groups still feeling shocks from Hurricane Harvey:

"The entire momentum of the city has been disrupted," said Perryn Leech, Houston Grand Opera's managing director. "Even if 10 percent of people don't come back to the theater, when they get out of the habit of going out, that's a challenge."

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/entertainment/article/After-Harvey-Houston-arts-groups-on-precarious-12368742.php

Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch looked flushed as he stood at the edge of the Hobby Center's Sarofim Hall stage Wednesday during a break in the company's annual Jubilee of Dance performance. His military-style jacket seemed apt for the warrior's role he has played in recent months, tr...

"What is the Tao of the liberal arts? As I wrote in this piece, understanding the liberal arts is comparable to understa...
11/17/2017
Analysis | Why we still need to study the humanities in a STEM world

"What is the Tao of the liberal arts? As I wrote in this piece, understanding the liberal arts is comparable to understanding the Tao, the source of everything in Taoism, an ancient Chinese philosophical system that explains why things are the way they are and why things happen the way they do. The liberal arts offer knowledge and the cultivation of habits of mind that allow graduates to mature into successful, productive members of society who can appreciate others, experience and embrace the notion of empathy, and seek lifelong learning."

-- Gerald Greenberg, senior associate dean of academic affairs; humanities; and curriculum, instruction and programs in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University.

Read more:

It's more than just about getting a job.

Our latest essay comes from Elissa Favero: "After those months of rehearsal and performance, I slowly came to see my own...
11/16/2017
Stepping, In Time

Our latest essay comes from Elissa Favero:

"After those months of rehearsal and performance, I slowly came to see my own aversion to efficiency—in body, in mind, in routine, and in work—as a form of resistance, first followed instinctually and now with practiced deliberateness, to the sweep of industrial logic turned glib corporate culture whose structure gives form now even to many nonprofits and places of higher education. Increasingly, twenty-first-century work demands not only hours at the job but also a constant availability and psychological investment that extend, insidiously, to time off the clock. " - from 'Stepping, In Time'

Gestures for manual labor become a dance, and inspire reflection on optimization and ease.

Mn Art Truck
10/20/2017
Mn Art Truck

Mn Art Truck

What is art? Art is anything and everything—art is in the eye of the beholder and is yours alone to define.

This article, "Stop and Stare" from Critical Read, is a powerful story of the author's discovery of what art was for him, as well as how it was shaped by his early childhood interests, like the Wild West.

What helped you discover art and made it resonate with you?

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Critical Read is a nonprofit publishing company based in New York. Online since 2016, Critical Read tells the true stories of the fine, literary and performing arts.

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