What Is Good Art?

Date: Tuesday 12 March 2013, 6pm (for a 6:15 start) – 8pm

Venue: Leeds Art Gallery, Henry Moore Room

Admission: £4/£3 concessions. Book in advance through Eventbrite to ensure a place*.

Speakers: Tiffany Jenkins, Nigel Walsh, Kenneth Hay, Antonia Stowe

As Part of Leeds Art Gallery's current 'Dawn Chorus' exhibition, Leeds Salon asks a panel of artists and academics 'What is Good Art?'

Who is the better painter, Jack Vettriano or David Hockney?  Who the better sculptor Antony Gormley or Henry Moore? Who is the better installation artist Damien Hirst or Marcel Duchamp? And do any of these even compare to the past masters from the Renaissance to Picasso? And does it matter?

The definition of art itself, let alone of good art, has always been contested, with people often agreeing to disagree. Yet in the past three decades the very idea that we can exercise aesthetic judgment has been denounced as suspect and elitist, so much so that we seem to have given up disagreeing about the quality of works of art altogether, at least in public.

Yet every day people are forced to exercise judgment both in private and public life:  art galleries have to decide what art to show; schools, universities and art colleges what art to put on the curriculum; art teachers what marks to give their pupils’ work; critics and judges of art competitions must give a verdict and justify their choices.

In practice, the literary and artistic canons live on, though in an uncontested form, and when there are controversies, these are seldom about the quality of the art itself but about its political or social ‘message’.

So, is aesthetic judgment is still necessary and possible in our non-judgmental age? And why does art matter anyway?


Dawn Chorus brings together new works acquired between 2011 and 2012 as part Leeds Art Gallery’s new partnership with the Arts Council Collection. The exhibition runs from 28 September 2012 until 31 March 2013. For more details, visit here.



How to judge art: a beginner's guide, Tiffany Jenkins, Spiked, 4 February 2013.

Ian Wieczorek, Kenneth Hay, Fragments 2012

The good, the bad and the non-judgemental, Tiffany Jenkins, The Scotsman, 26 October 2012

Farewell to Judgement, Roger Scruton, American Spectator, June 2009

What's the Value of Culture Today?, episode 5 of ‘The Value of Culture’, BBC R4, 4 January 2013. Melvyn Bragg, Christopher Frayling, Tiffany Jenkins and Matt Ridley discuss the meaning and value of culture in the twenty-first century. Duration: 42 Minutes.


*If you wish to pay on the door, but please let us know your coming by e-mailing us at contact@leedssalon.org.uk



Leeds Salon on Facebook

Follow theleedssalon on Twitter

Sign up to our mailing list


The Leeds Salon is a judging partner of the sixth form Debating Matters competition

The Tetley and The Leeds Salon are partners in school debate for central and south Leeds

The HFoI and The Leeds Salon are partners in school debate for north Leeds


Leeds Salon is a member of the Amazon Affiliate Programme. When you follow this link, we receive a small percentage of anything you spend in that visit. It costs you no extra but is a big help to us!

Leeds Debate Links

Arts Society Leeds

Café Psychologique

Café Scientifique (Chapel Allerton)

Café Scientifique (Headingley)

FORUM 2000

Headingley Festival of Ideas

Headingley LitFest

Leeds Library Salon

Leeds Phil & Lit Society

Leeds Pint of Science

Taking Soundings

Talking Allowed In Leeds: PiPs

Think Headingley: PiPs


National Debate Links

Salon Aberystwyth

Birmingham Salon

East Midlands Salon

Exeter Salon

Liverpool Salon

London Legal Salon

Manchester Salon

Academy of Ideas

Debating Matters

Manifesto Club


The Great Debate



Global Debate Links

Berlin Salon

Dublin Salon

Zurich Salon


Donations gratefully received