First, as @rfusca more or less suggested in the comments, much of this answer is fairly general, not really about this particular picture. Second, a lot of it represents more or less the extreme of the cynic's viewpoint. I'm not sure it's ever entirely true -- but I am convinced that some elements have a fair amount of validity too.
I will posit that at least 95% of art critics are basically overeducated morons. They studied art enough to know the names of the schools and the prominent (and often at least a few obscure) members of each -- but they've still done a lot more memorization than understanding.
I will also posit that many are (for various reasons) angry at the world (or more willing than most to take out perfectly ordinary levels of anger on the world), and they use "art" as their way of getting even. Art is the ideal medium for this, because it's all a matter of taste. They proclaim a "piece" to be "high art", and anybody with the nerve to point out that the emperor is naked is obviously a cretin.
To maximize the effectiveness of this tactic, however, what they espouse is primarily mediocre to poor. After all, even ordinary people can admire pictures (sculptures, whatever) that are honestly worth looking at. Anybody can see that a sunset is pretty. Only a true connoisseur can recognize the greatness of a dirty-white canvas with a mostly-black square painted on it, and those who don't stare long enough to notice that the upper, right-hand corner had red under the black are obviously too blind for their opinions to matter at all!
Looking more specifically at this picture, it reminds me quite distinctly of the first few dozen pictures I took after I first got a wide-angle lens (24mm on full frame). Exaggerated perspective is fun for a while. If I had to guess, I'd say this was probably taken when the widest angle most people had was a 28mm, and this is enough wider to be noticeable (quite possibly 24mm).
For what it's worth, I think the same general trend continues much more recently -- while I've sold very little stock photography, by far my biggest sellers were ones I took right after I got an 11-18mm lens. I'm pretty sure most of them were simply the first pictures on the market of those particular subjects with that wide of a lens. Quite frankly, I was a bit concerned at the time about submitting those pictures at all -- none of them was (IMO) particularly great either technically or artistically, but they gave a look and viewpoint that was unique at the time, and that was apparently enough.