The critical writing competition known as the International Awards for Art Criticism ( IAAC ) represents a field of enquiry more than a source of knowledge or information, and the rewards it offers have particular value in an area where these are slight and rare. The annual presentation ceremony at the Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum each November is eagerly anticipated by the media. It brings together Award Winners, past and present, members of the national and international juries and a range of young artists and writers, in addition to the general public.

Debate is a crucial aspect of the proceedings, and under-pinning this is the IAAC’s steadily growing website, which presents news of the Award Winners, background information about the IAAC and news of its activities and events. Away from this highlight in the calendar, an influential web of communications serves to promote the IAAC and create links between a diverse range of colleagues and professionals worldwide. These activities are reinforced by an occasional series of interim events, designed for writers and critics in China and the UK.

As part of the programme for 2018, we organised a panel discussion at the Royal College of Art, in London, on the theme What Do Critics Owe To Artists?, published as an edited summary in the previous Exhibition Reviews Annual. Last year, we followed this up with another panel discussion at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, in Beijing, between leading exponents from mainland China on the theme Do Artists Need Critics?, an edited version of which is reproduced in the current volume. Here, Shao Yiyang argues persuasively that art critics, far from being irrelevant, play a crucial role in maintaining an independent stance from commercial and political pressures – a position that appears to be supported by Gao Minglu, when he asserts that we should not be worried about talk of a ‘crisis’ in art criticism, or even its death. In Gao’s view, independent thought is more important than ever, in a world where critical certainties are no longer available. As Sui Jianguo tells his students and artist colleagues, ‘We may have done good things back there, but there was no one to write about them.’ He adds that criticism ‘creates a sense of community and connection’. Qiu Zhijie relativises this by stressing the individual nature of the relationship that an artist may establish with a critic, and describes a ‘good critic’ as a ‘sincere friend, who can push an artist forward’. In his opinion, good criticism is not ‘merely’ the result of independent thought, but the product of a fitting economic reward, which alone can underwrite a critic’s independence from the market. Philip Tinari questions the importance of critical ‘judgement’, when the most important task for the critic today would appear to be to stimulate ‘a richer and more diverse understanding of art’. He suggests it is as important to view the individual’s creative output within the immediate context for which it is conceived as in a globalised form of critical discourse. Gao Peng enlarges on the question of a context in which shared values and critical assessments are produced, and warns against an overhasty adoption of values and opinions that are not truly intrinsic to it. A true understanding of context may help us to discuss assumptions that are shared by everyone involved in some form of critical practice – as artist, critic or, indeed, art historian.

We hope you will enjoy the exhibition reviews presented here and appreciate the immense amount of work and commitment shown to the cause of writing about contemporary art, not only by this year’s four Award Winners and the shortlisted candidates selected for the current publication, but also by the over 250 critics and reviewers worldwide who took the trouble to write texts specifically for this competition. As ever, we owe a special debt of thanks to all our jury members, first for the initial selections in Shanghai and London, and then for the final, international round, in Shanghai.

In closing, on behalf of the Board, we would like to express our deep thanks and appreciation to our hosts and partners, both in Shanghai and in London, for the faith they place in us and their indispensable support, and to the numerous individuals who have been involved in this project ( only some of whom are mentioned by name on the colophon page ). We depend on all of them for their generous cooperation.

Henry Meyric Hughes ( Chair ), Lewis Biggs ( Hon. Treasurer ), Juan Cruz, Ling Min. Board of the International Awards for Art Criticism Ltd. ( IAAC ), London and Shanghai.




作为2018年的活动之一,一场主题为“评论家欠艺术家什么?”的圆桌讨论会在伦敦皇家艺术学院(RCA)举办,并于第五届国际艺术评论奖文集中收录了此次活动的文字回顾。2019年,我们又以 “艺术家真的需要批评家吗?”为题于北京中央美术学院(CAFA)再次举办了一场圆桌讨论会,由数位中国学者与专家参与讨论,此次活动的文字回顾亦编辑收录于本册文集。

讨论会上,邵亦杨有力地指出艺术批评家绝非无关紧要的,他们在对抗商业和政治压力、保持立场的独立性中起着关键作用。这一观点似乎得到了高名潞的支持,他认为我们不需要担心艺术批评的危机,甚至是它的死亡。高名潞认为,面对一个充满不确定的世界,保持独立思考是最重要的事情。正如隋建国告诉他的学生和艺术家同伴:“其实我们那个时代也许好东西都做出来了,不过是还没有人把它写出来而已。”他认为,批评能够“创造集体感和联结”。邱志杰谈及这一点时,强调了艺术家与批评家所建立的关系之本质,他将一位 “好的批评家”视为“一位诚恳的友人,能够促使艺术家不断进步。”他认为,优秀的艺术批评并非仅为批评家独立思考而得到的结果,还需要相应的经济回报,只有这样才能保证批评家独立于市场。当下批评家最重要的任务似乎是激发人们对艺术更丰富、更多样的理解。面对这样的趋势,田霏宇对“决定性的评断”提出了质疑。他认为以直接语境解读个体创造性的产出和全球化的批评话语同样重要。高鹏则详细阐述了共同价值观和决定性评断产生的背景问题,并警告人们不要过于草率地采纳那些忽略了内在语境的看法和价值观。真正地理解背景有助于我们讨论在某些批评实践中被大众认同的假设—无论是艺术家还是批评家,又或者是艺术史家。


最后,我们代表IAAC组委会衷心感谢来自上海和伦敦的合作伙伴,感谢他们对我们的信任和不可或缺的支持。同时,也感谢所有参与国际艺术评论奖评选项目的团队(后记中只提到了他们中的一部分)。正是他们的参与和贡献才促成了IAAC 6 的圆满成功!