On the topic of the current state of art education, here are a few highlights from School is Out: Rethinking Art Education Today, in Modern Painters magazine.
Steven Henry Madoff:
In recent years the role of the art school has moved to a position of prominence, pushed there by the encroachments of an aggressive marketplace and the professionalization of every aspect of the artworld, from the dominance of gallery and museum brands, to the cultural tourism of art fairs and biennials, to today’s art itself now so often created precisely for the scale, spectacle, and capitalization of these events.
To whom should the academy be responsible?…Should the art school be a research center that enlightens conceptual practices while de-emphasizing skills, or a course of study in entrepreneurship, presentation, strategic thinking, and other matters to prepare young artists for the ruthlessness of the market? Or is art school in the 21st century simply the physical surrogate of MySpace and YouTube–the spawning ground as social network?
It seems to me the most important thing about art school is the creation of a sympathetic ambiance, in which people feel comfortable and free to act according to their own instincts. You have to make a place where people feel at ease to be who they are, and bring what they have naturally in themselves to bear.
You can’t have a proper curriculum. There are no basic things. What’s basic for one artist is not basic for another. The amazing thing about young people is that they can jump in at a very sophisticated level, without actually understanding what they’re dong. Somehow that innocence also allows them access to something. And so a part of teaching is helping them to realize what it is that they’ve stumbled on.
We used to think in terms of “radical” or “not radical.” This is an irrelevant issue now. The question is: How do you come up with something that is identifiable as yours? It’s a logo-ing. It’s branding.
But one of the things that’s interesting about art is that it doesn’t necessarily follow the obvious, endless trajectory in one straight path. Some kid finds a way o refusing that is so interesting that it undermines all of this other thing.
You can’t teach art. That’s my premise.
More on this topic to come, like the rise of DIY schools and the art/literary/philosophical/educational gatherings.
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