cri de coeur


(noun) - This is a French phrase that means "cry of the heart." Cri de coeur is not an art term, per se. However, one stumbles across it repeatedly while reading a certain segment of scholarly articles, art criticisms and/or artists' statements.

Rant Begins

If said scholars, critics and/or artists were writing the rest of their words in French, cri de coeur would fit right in. The usual case, though, is that English (technically the language in use) is being manhandled and filled with terms - foreign or otherwise - that many a reader must go and look up.

One can't help but suspect this rudeness is purposely done in order to make (1) the writer sound important and (2) the average reader feel like a hopeless Art dunce.

Take, for example:

  • "The artist's especially adroit manipulation of chiaroscuro as pertains to fur is a cri de coeur for the viewer to consider the artist's feline subjects objectively, rather than subjectively viewing them as objects."


  • "The artist uses clever lighting because s/he loves cats. S/he pleads with viewers to feel the same."

Now, I made that up so as not to single anyone out, but needn't have. The web is loaded with far worse, real examples of Art going out of its way to remain mysterious. The bigger mystery here is that Art ever wonders why so many people find it intimidatingly unnecessary.

End Rant

Pronunciation: kree·da·keuh (the last syllable sounds kind of like "cool," but trails off before the end "luh" )