The Visual Art Critic (ICPSR 35602)

Published: Jan 28, 2016

Principal Investigator(s):
Andras Szanto, Columbia University. National Arts Journalism Program

Version V1

A Survey of Art Critics at General-interest News Publications in America

In early 2002, the National Arts Journalism Program invited art critics at general-interest news publications around the country to complete an online questionnaire about their backgrounds, educational credentials, work habits, tastes and opinions on issues concerning art in America today. The survey's 169 critics -- drawn from 96 daily newspapers, 34 alternative weeklies and 3 national news magazines -- write for a combined audience of approximately 60 million readers. The findings suggest that although art critics have carved out important roles at many publications, criticism is struggling to keep up with the swift evolution of the art world.

Szanto, Andras. The Visual Art Critic. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2016-01-28.

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Users of the data must agree to the Terms of Use presented on the NADAC Web site and available through the link in each codebook.

1997-03 -- 2002-03


Jeremy Simon and Larry McGill contributed to this study. The National Arts Journalism Program (NAJP) collected data for this survey.

Responses to some of the open-ended questions were too lengthy to retain in the dataset. Responses to questions 21, 27, 30, 31, 32, 34, 50, 51, and 52 are available in the Appendix in the ICPSR Codebook for this data collection.

Due to limitations in Stata, the original open-text REVIEW variable was divided across V24OPEN1_1 and V24OPEN1_2 variables created by ICPSR.

The following notes were provided by CPANDA upon their distribution of this data collection:

  • Although there are 169 critics in the total survey sample, there are 170 records in the database. One respondent generated two records; these 2 records are CASEID 105 and 170. There are no instances of this respondent supplying a different answer in CASEID 105 as compared to CASEID 170; there are instances where only one record has a response and the other record is blank (i.e., no response). It appears that when both records have responses, these responses were used in calculating the distributions appearing in The Visual Art Critic and its supplementary data.
  • The [data frequency distributions may not] always match the distributions appearing in The Visual Art Critic or its supplementary data. [According to CPANDA,] discrepancies between these distributions may be the result of typographic errors, rounding methodology, interpretation of survey responses, etc.

This data collection was previously distributed by the Cultural Policy and the Arts National Data Archive (CPANDA). The CPANDA Identification Number (study number) is a00052. CPANDA conducted the following processing steps for release of this collection: produced a codebook, checked for undocumented codes, performed consistency checks, provided frequencies, performed recodes, and reformatted the data.

CPANDA performed many processing steps for confidentiality reasons and data cleaning purposes. Users should review the CPANDA Data Issues and Steps section of the ICPSR Codebook.

Due to the limit in the number of allowable columns of 256 in Excel 97-2003 (file ending, xls), the Excel file being distributed with this collection is in the later version of Excel (file ending of xlsx).

The National Arts Journalism Program invited art critics at general-interest news publications around the country to complete an online questionnaire about their backgrounds, educational credentials, work habits, tastes and opinions on issues concerning art in America today. The art critics selected for this survey wrote for publications meeting specific circulation levels (55,000 or higher for daily newspapers, 50,000 or higher for alternative weekly newspapers, and nine nationally circulating newsmagazines). Of the 230 qualifying art critics, the vast majority of those included in the report wrote at least 12 articles about visual art during the prior one-year period. The final report was based on responses from 169 art critics. CPANDA collapsed some of the categories shown in the report for confidentiality purposes.

Art critics included in this survey generally met two criteria. First, the critic worked at one of the top 200 daily newspapers (those with circulations 55,000 or higher), the top 60 alternative weekly newspapers (those with circulations 50,000 or higher) or nine nationally circulating news magazines. Second, the critic wrote "at least 12 or more evaluative articles about visual art for their publications over the prior one-year period"; exceptions to this criterion were made for some critics who would likely have qualified if not for a sabbatical, extended illness, etc.


art critics at general-interest news publications throughout the United States.


survey data

on-site questionnaire

web-based survey



2016-01-28 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created online analysis version with question text.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

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This study is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Data on Arts & Culture (NADAC). NADAC is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.