Edward Skidelsky on how praise from critics may turn out to be no such thing:
More worrying is the popularity with art and other critics of terms such as “important,” “seminal,” “major,” and “influential.” These originally purely descriptive words are now commonly used as expressions of praise. This is bizarre, because there is nothing ipso facto praiseworthy about influence or importance. The Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer was undoubtedly influential; Stalin was very important. Moreover, all these words have the odd power of bringing into being the very state of affairs they describe. If enough critics call Anish Kapoor major or seminal, he really is major or seminal. By contrast, if they all call him good, he might still be bad. Collective infallibility is assured, at the cost of a debasement of critical vocabulary.Skidelsky raises a good point, although his totalitarian references seem to confuse moral and aesthetic value – you can be a good artist and a bad person, or vice versa. But in any case, how would an artist (for which read writer, musician, film-maker, fashion designer, potter, conceptual taxidermist) react to being described as good, and yet insignificant?