In no particular order of importance, I believe artwork can be judged on at least the following criteria:
Integrity (or consistency)
[there are footnotes to a few of those you can see on the original]
Later I elaborated further that "OK, I lied. Truth is the number 1 criteria," which elicted two comments that deserve a response. The second, by aurix, was simply, "Could you elaborate on truth as a criterion?" which I'll take as my license for responding in some detail to the first comment by Henry:
Why is truth the number one criterion? And what does it even mean? I was just about to comment that your list of criteria was quite good, except that truth should be taken off.The rest of Henry's comment also suggests he and I have very different working definitions of "truth," but I'll respond to this part first. For me, "truth" is not an intentional sincerity of expression, but rather a well-considered, effective expression of an insightful analysis, which is virtually my exact definition of a "work of art." In this sense, truth is for me the most important criterion for determining whether work is good or not.
If by truth you mean intentional sincerity of expression, I don't think truth has anything to do with anything.
In thinking about this I keep coming back to Warhol (and if you don't agree that Warhol was a good artist, you might not get much out of the rest of this). Andy told more truth through his work than we'll likely process for decades. Consider how he notoriously reponded to interviews with what he thought the asker wanted to hear. This is a particularly good example of what I mean by truth, because on the surface it seems to be anything but (thereby illustrating that it's not a matter of a relative point of view, but rather an excellent means of conveying a point, regardless of who may agree or disagree with it). The point of Warhol's work here was, in part, to demonstrate that the interview (the media attention and resulting celebrity) was the thing, not its content. So whether what he actually said was somehow cosmically true (however one measures that) was irrelevant...there was truth in his message, and how he chose to express that message was a well-considered, effective expression of an insightful analysis (i.e., it was good art).
Well, perhaps, but sincerity is not an element of my definition of truth. Irony (and [I think] even cynicism) can reveal truth as well. So for me the ultimate test of "truth" is not a matter of intention (that's part of assessing conceptual quality and integrity) but rather of effect (like that of emotional response [think "beauty is truth" and this is more clear]).
I was just talking with a friend a couple of days ago who said contemporary art was losing its soul, because (among other reasons,) an artist nowadays could vomit on a canvas and call it art. My friend quickly turned to me and said as an aside, "of course, if you vomited on a canvas, that would be different. I know you, and I know you probably had a good reason for it."
So apparently "truth" is in the eye of the beholder.
It can be bent very easily, especially among the "educated." Like car salesmen around the world already know, the smarter you are, the easier you are to fool. I'd strike truth from the list, whatever it is.I'm happy to strike sincerity from the list [update: or I would be if it were on the list...], but art without "truth," as I see it, is inferior. It may be pleasant enough, but it's not meaningful beyond that, and I strongly believe there is more.