Art criticism was once passionate, polemical, and judgmental; now critics are more often interested in ambiguity, neutrality, and nuanced description. And while art criticism is ubiquitous in newspapers, magazines, and exhibition brochures, it is also virtually absent from academic writing. How is it that even as criticism drifts away from academia, it becomes more academic? How is it that sifting through a countless array of colorful periodicals and catalogs makes criticism seem to slip even further from our grasp? In this pamphlet, James Elkins surveys the last fifty years of art criticism, proposing some interesting explanations for these startling changes.