Kōrero: Arts reviewing

Critics and reviewers give public opinions on artistic and literary works. The best critics provide thoughtful analysis, capable of provoking discussion about a work – or even an entire art form.

He kōrero nā Peter Clayworth
Te āhua nui: Charles Baeyertz, editor of the Triad, artist Charles Worsley and Worsley's wife Beatrice

Story summary

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero

Early days

New Zealand’s first reviews of live performances and literature appeared in newspapers in the 1840s. Next came occasional reviews of local art exhibitions. By the 1880s some papers ran regular supplements containing reviews.

Often reviewers were outspoken in their criticism of local performances, but more positive about touring acts.

As magazines and books began to be published in New Zealand, they too were reviewed. Films were reviewed from the 1900s.

1910 to 1960s

As recorded music became more widely available, music critics were no longer restricted to reviewing live music.

In the 1910s the Triad, a well-known New Zealand literary journal, ran reviews attacking modernist poets and painters. Attacks on new developments were to be a common feature of arts and literary criticism in New Zealand.

In the 1930s modernist writers questioned the role of the critic in society and argued for higher standards of criticism.

In 1947 Landfall published one of the first serious articles on New Zealand photography.

1960s to 2010s

In the 1960s music critics began to expand their horizons, reviewing rock ‘n’ roll and pop music as well as classical music and jazz. Specialist music magazines such as Rip It Up emerged, focusing on the serious criticism of rock music.

Coverage of books and arts in the daily papers declined during the 2000s. By then radio had become a major source of reviews, including book reviews.

In the 2000s Mana magazine had regular reviews of Māori-related books and music, while the journal Te Pouhere Kōrero reviewed publications and productions on Māori history.

In the early 21st century, websites became important platforms for criticism and reviewing.

Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Peter Clayworth, 'Arts reviewing', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/arts-reviewing (accessed 4 June 2020)

He kōrero nā Peter Clayworth, i tāngia i te 22 Oct 2014, updated 1 Apr 2020