Critics & Connoisseurs

Critics are the professionals who judge the qualities of literary or artistic works, and communicate their assessment of various forms of creative works. There are professional critics who assess almost every imaginable art form from paintings to literature, from films to music, and from theater to architecture. They critique the art forms from the aesthetic angle, taking into consideration several factors. Connoisseurs, on the other hand, are individuals who are expert judges in matters of taste; they have a great deal of knowledge about a specific art form or cuisine. Italian portrait painter Giovanni Boldini, one of the best known artists of his time, was also a famed connoisseur of art. Known as the "Master of Swish" because of his flowing style of painting, he was a true expert in the genre of portrait painting. Critics and connoisseurs work in a number of fields. Coming to literature, Edgar Allan Poe, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Joyce Carol Oates are among the best known critics. In the modern era, films are also considered an art form. In this genre, Wesley Morris, Glenn Kenny, and Dana Stevens are counted among the expert film critics. Read on to know about famous critics & connoisseurs from all over the world.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 
Friedrich Nietzsche
(German Philosopher, Cultural Critic and Philologist)

Friedrich Nietzsche
4
Birthdate: October 15, 1844
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Röcken, Lützen, Germany
Died: August 25, 1900

German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, and poet Friedrich Nietzsche has had a profound influence on modern intellectual history. He held the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel. His work spanned philosophical polemics, poetry, cultural criticism, and fiction. He suffered from numerous health problems from a young age and died at the age of 55.

 2 
Margaret Atwood
(Poet, Novelist, Literary Critic & Environmental Activist)

Margaret Atwood
4
Birthdate: November 18, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ottawa, Canada

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian poet and novelist. Her works encompass themes, such as religion and myth, climate change, and gender and identity. An award-winning writer, many of Atwood's works have been made into films and television series; her work, The Handmaid's Tale, has had several adaptations. Perhaps, Margaret Atwood's most important contribution is her invention of the LongPen device.

 3 
Michel Foucault
(Philosopher & Historian)

Michel Foucault
4
Birthdate: October 15, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Poitiers, France
Died: June 25, 1984

If others thought the body was the prison of the soul, Paul-Michel Foucault felt the other way round. The French philosopher, literary critic and Leftist who interpreted the link between power and knowledge, was a post-structuralist whose theories have left a mark on anthropology, psychology and criminology. The feminist was one of the noted personalities to have died of HIV/AIDS.

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 4 
Roger Ebert
(Film critic)

Roger Ebert
4
Birthdate: June 18, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Urbana, Illinois, United States
Died: April 4, 2013

Roger Ebert was an American journalist, author, screenwriter, film historian, and film critic. While working as a film critic for the daily newspaper Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, becoming the first film critic to be honored with the prestigious award. He was often described as America's most influential and prominent film critic of all time.

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 5 

T. S. Eliot
4
Birthdate: September 26, 1888
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: January 4, 1965
American-born British poet T. S. Eliot is best remembered for his poems The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, and Ash Wednesday, and his plays such as Murder in the Cathedral. He won the Nobel Prize for literature and became a prominent figure of Modernist poetry.  

 6 

George Bernard Shaw
4
Birthdate: July 26, 1856
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Portobello, Dublin, Ireland
Died: November 2, 1950

Nobel Prize-winning playwright and author George Bernard Shaw was best known for his realism and his support for women’s rights and socialism. His ideas gave rise to the word “Shavian.” His drama Pygmalion inspired the musical My Fair Lady. His other notable works include Candida and Man and Superman.

 7 

Ursula K. Le Guin
4
Birthdate: October 21, 1929
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, United States
Died: January 22, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin was an American author. In a career spanning almost six decades, Ursula wrote about political and social themes like race and sexuality. Throughout her career, Ursula had a major influence on speculative fiction. Her book A Wizard of Earthsea is credited with inspiring ideas like 'wizard school', which was later popularized in the Harry Potter series.

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 8 
Lenny Bruce
(Standup Comedian)

Lenny Bruce
6
Birthdate: October 13, 1925
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mineola, New York, United States
Died: August 3, 1966

Regarded as one of the best American stand-up comedians of all time, Lenny Bruce was renowned for his critical form of comedy. His conviction for obscenity played a major role in redefining freedom of speech in the US. He is also credited with inspiring several comedians of the counterculture era. His life and career have inspired several works of art.

 9 
Lewis Black
(Comedian)

Lewis Black
4
Birthdate: August 30, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

 10 
Jean-Luc Godard
(Film Director)

Jean-Luc Godard
4
Birthdate: December 3, 1930
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France

The Paris-born French-Swiss director and screenwriter has the reputation of adding new dimensions to filmmaking with his experimentation, a trend which came to be known as French New Wave. The director of acclaimed films like Breathless, My Life to Live and Pierrot le Fou, Jean-Luc Godard was married to actress Anna Karina. He is regarded as an all-time great director.

Bell Hooks
4
Listed In: Social Activists
Birthdate: September 25, 1952
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hopkinsville, Kentucky, United States
Died: December 15, 2021

 12 

Charles Baudelaire
4
Birthdate: April 9, 1821
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 31, 1867
French prose poet, essayist, and critic Charles Baudelaire was one of the first translators of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Best known for his book of poems Les Fleurs du mal, he is believed to have coined the word modernity and was associated with the symbolist and decadent movements.

 13 
Dick Gregory
(American critic)

Dick Gregory
4
Birthdate: October 12, 1932
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

 14 
Gene Siskel
(Film critic. Journalist)

Gene Siskel
4
Birthdate: January 26, 1946
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: February 20, 1999

 15 

Tom Parker Bowles
4
Listed In: Cookbook Writers
Birthdate: December 18, 1974
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Westminster, London, England
Tom Parker Bowles, son of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Andrew Parker Bowles, is best known for hosting Market Kitchen. He also writes food reviews in magazines such as GQ and Esquire, and has authored several cookbooks. The Guild of Food Writers award winner also owns a chestnut ale brand.

 16 
John Updike
(Poet, Novelist)

John Updike
4
Birthdate: March 18, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Reading, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: January 27, 2009

 17 
Paul Schrader
(Screenwriter)

Paul Schrader
4
Birthdate: July 22, 1946
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

 18 
Roland Barthes
(Essayist)

Roland Barthes
4
Birthdate: November 12, 1915
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, France
Died: March 25, 1980
Born to middle-class parents in France, literary theorist and critic Roland Barthes explored Ferdinand de Saussure’s semiology and influenced fields such as structuralism. His iconic works, such as Mythologies and The Death of the Author, influenced later thinkers. He died of injuries sustained in a road accident at 64.

 19 

Henry Louis Gates Jr.
4
Birthdate: September 16, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Keyser, West Virginia

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is an American literary critic, historian, professor, filmmaker, and public intellectual. He is currently serving as the director of the Hutchins Center at Harvard University. Over the years Gates has been honored with several prestigious awards including the National Humanities Medal. In 1997, he was named in Time magazine's 25 Most Influential Americans list.

 20 
Liu Xiaobo
(Chinese Human Rights Activist)

Liu Xiaobo
4
Birthdate: December 28, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Changchun, China
Died: July 13, 2017

Liu Xiaobo was a Chinese activist, literary critic, and philosopher. He is best remembered for organizing campaigns that aimed at ending the one-party rule in China. He was honored with the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle for human rights in China. Liu is the first Chinese citizen to be honored with a Nobel Prize while residing in China.

 21 
Mark Steyn
(Writer)

Mark Steyn
4
Listed In: Novelists
Birthdate: December 8, 1959
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Canadian author Mark Steyn is best known for his bestselling books such as America Alone and After America. A political commentator and critic, too, he has been in the news for his controversial comments on the LGBT community. He has also hosted Fox shows such as Tucker Carlson Tonight.

 22 
Denis Diderot
(Philosopher)

Denis Diderot
4
Birthdate: October 5, 1713
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Langres, France
Died: July 31, 1784

Denis Diderot revolutionized the Age of Enlightenment as the co-founder of Encyclopédie, which was banned for questioning religion. He had flirted with the idea of joining the theater and becoming a priest, and even studied law, but later devoted himself to languages, literature, and philosophy.

 23 
Theodor W. Adorno
(Philosopher)

Theodor W. Adorno
4
Birthdate: September 11, 1903
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: August 6, 1969

One of the most prominent intellectuals of the 20th century, Theodor Adorno was a pioneer of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory and despised the culture industry. Born to a singer mother, the German sociologist grew up amid music and could even play Beethoven on the piano by 12.

 24 
Robert Graves
(Poet & Novelist)

Robert Graves
4
Birthdate: July 24, 1895
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Wimbledon, England
Died: December 7, 1985

 25 

John Dryden
4
Birthdate: August 9, 1631
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Aldwincle, Northamptonshire, England
Died: May 12, 1700

 26 

Stanisław Lem
4
Birthdate: September 12, 1921
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lviv, Ukraine
Died: March 27, 2006

Stanisław Lem was a Polish writer who specialized in the science fiction genre. He was also a noted essayist who wrote on varied subjects, including philosophy, futurology, and literary criticism. His books, which have been translated into over 50 languages, have sold more than 45 million copies worldwide. He was the recipient of numerous awards and honors. 

 27 
Fernando Pessoa
(Portuguese Modernist Poet and Author of 'Mensagem' and 'The Book of Disquiet')

Fernando Pessoa
4
Birthdate: June 13, 1888
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal
Died: November 30, 1935

Fernando Pessoa was a Portuguese poet, writer, translator, and publisher. A prolific writer, he is considered one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century. While he mostly wrote in the Portuguese language, he also wrote in English and French occasionally. Besides writing under his own name, he also wrote under approximately 75 other names.

 28 
Kurt Loder
(Film critic)

Kurt Loder
4
Birthdate: May 5, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ocean City, New Jersey, U.S.

 29 
George Plimpton
(Journalists)

George Plimpton
4
Birthdate: March 18, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Died: September 26, 2003

 30 

Heinrich Heine
4
Birthdate: December 13, 1797
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Düsseldorf, Germany
Died: February 17, 1856

Heinrich Heine was a German poet, literary critic, and writer. He is known internationally for his lyric poetry, which was popularized by composers like Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann who adapted Heine's lyric poetry into art songs. Heinrich Heine's radical political views forced the German authorities to ban his works, which only added to his popularity.

 31 
Andre Aciman
(Writer)

Andre Aciman
4
Birthdate: January 2, 1951
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt

 32 
Clive James
(Writer, Journalist, Literary critic)

Clive James
4
Birthdate: October 7, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kogarah, Australia
Died: November 24, 2019

Clive James was an Australian critic, journalist, and writer who worked mainly in the United Kingdom. He had a difficult life as a young man and faced many challenges on his way to building a successful career. He began his career as a TV critic and proceeded to establish himself as a writer and poet as well. 

Guillaume Apollinaire
4
Birthdate: August 26, 1880
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: November 9, 1918

French poet Guillaume Apollinaire was a significant figure of the avant-garde movement. It is believed he had coined the terms Cubism, Surrealism, and Orphism. Known for his iconic poem Chanson du mal-aimé, written after being rejected by a lover, he also developed the typography-based concrete poetry in the collection Calligrammes.

 34 

E. T. A. Hoffmann
4
Birthdate: January 24, 1776
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Königsberg, Germany
Died: June 25, 1822

E. T. A. Hoffmann was a German author, jurist, artist, composer, and music critic. His stories served as an inspiration and laid the foundation for The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is also based on Hoffmann's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Hoffmann is among the most influential authors of the Romantic Movement.

 35 
Robert Christgau
(Journalist, Reporter, Essayist, Writer, Music critic)

Robert Christgau
4
Birthdate: April 18, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Greenwich Village

 36 
Mikhail Bakhtin
(Philosopher)

Mikhail Bakhtin
4
Birthdate: November 17, 1895
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Oryol, Russia
Died: March 7, 1975
Mikhail Bakhtin was a Russian philosopher, scholar, and literary critic who worked on ethics, literary theory, and the philosophy of language. Bakhtin's writings inspired scholars who were working on various traditions, such as structuralism, semiotics, religious criticism, and Marxism. Mikhail Bakhtin is also credited with influencing various Western schools of theory.

 37 
Eugene Ionesco
(Playwright and dramatist)

Eugene Ionesco
4
Birthdate: November 26, 1909
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Slatina, Romania Slatina, Romania
Died: March 28, 1994

 38 
Harvey Pekar
(Comics artist, Autobiographer, Writer, Music critic, Journalist)

Harvey Pekar
4
Birthdate: October 8, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cleveland
Died: July 12, 2010

 39 
Molly Meldrum
(Music critic, Record producer, Composer)

Molly Meldrum
4
Birthdate: January 29, 1943
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Orbost

 40 
René Girard
(Historian)

René Girard
4
Birthdate: December 25, 1923
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Avignon, France
Died: November 4, 2015

René Girard was a French philosopher of social science, literary critic, and historian. Over the years, Girard's work has had an influence on disciplines like philosophy, anthropology, psychology, mythology, theology, economics, sociology, and cultural studies among other important disciplines. In 2006, René Girard was honored by the University of Tübingen with the prestigious Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize.

 41 
Robert Mondavi
(Winegrower)

Robert Mondavi
4
Listed In: Food Critics
Birthdate: June 18, 1913
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Virginia
Died: May 16, 2008

 42 
Jacqueline Roque
(Best known as the muse and second wife of Pablo Picasso)

Jacqueline Roque
4
Listed In: Art Critics
Birthdate: February 24, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 15, 1986

 43 
Leonard Maltin
(Journalist, Art historian, Film critic, Screenwriter, Writer, University teacher)

Leonard Maltin
4
Birthdate: December 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City

 44 

Johann Gottfried Herder
4
Birthdate: August 25, 1744
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Morąg, Poland
Died: December 18, 1803

German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder is best remembered as a significant figure of the Sturm und Drang literary movement. Born into poverty and largely self-educated till 17, he later became a disciple of Immanuel Kant and was associated with Enlightenment and Weimar Classicism. He was eventually ennobled.

William Ernest Henley
4
Birthdate: August 23, 1849
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gloucester, England
Died: July 11, 1903

Best known for his short poem Invictus, William Ernest Henley was a Victorian-era British poet and author. A disease he contracted in childhood caused one of his legs to be amputated. It is believed, he was the inspiration behind the crippled character Long John Silver in RL Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

 46 
Michael Winner
(Film director)

Michael Winner
4
Birthdate: October 30, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hampstead, London, England
Died: January 21, 2013

 47 
Terry Eagleton
(Literary critic)

Terry Eagleton
4
Birthdate: February 22, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: County Borough of Salford Salford, England

English literary theorist and critic Terry Eagleton, presently serving as Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University, is a prominent critic of postmodernism and the New Atheism. His oeuvre includes over forty books among which Literary Theory: An Introduction (1983), which describes the emerging literary theory of the period, is considered to be one of his most notable works.   

 48 
Rex Reed
(Actor, Film actor, Journalist)

Rex Reed
4
Birthdate: October 2, 1938
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Fort Worth

 49 
Olivier Assayas
(Film director, Screenwriter, Film critic)

Olivier Assayas
4
Birthdate: January 25, 1955
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France

 50 
Anne Tyler
(Novelist)

Anne Tyler
4
Birthdate: October 25, 1941
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States