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What to Expect from Art



With permission, I am sending this message to the ArtCrit list, and I'm doubling
up by replying to the original Book Arts list. I'll save my comments to the end.

>   I already opened this can of worms on the letpress list, so if anyone saw
>   it there, you can stop reading now.  I think MFA programs should be
>   disbanded, or at least made to account for what they are doing, which is,
>   it seems, churning out more and more mediocre artists.  Mediocre artists
>   with large amounts of debt.  And directly out of school, these artists are
>   attempting to get teaching jobs at colleges and universities.  They will
>   teach other students what they've learned, which isn't much, and they won't
>   be very good at teaching what they've learned, because graduate school may
>   be good for something, but it does not prepare one to become a teacher. And
>   the cycle continues.
>
>   I think there should be some way to disrupt this system by working outside
>   of it.  Older, more experienced, practicing artists should take in younger
>   artists as assistants/apprentices.  In that way, the assistant/apprentice
>   will gain technical knowledge as well as have a mentor.  I believe that
>   neither of these things are being offered at graduate schools today. (Could
>   you guess that I just got out?)
>
>   Or maybe there is another solution?
>
>   If this system is turned on its head, maybe the quality of art will improve.
>
>   The art world should broaden its base as well.  It is a tight little circle
>   where many of the artists are seeing the same shows, then making work that
>   is necessarily influenced by those shows. The critics are all living in
>   that circle as well, and so write about the same things.  And that info
>   gets disseminated to a larger audience and is taken for "what is going on
>   in art today."  Let's not talk about the same people showing at the same
>   galleries, let's talk about all of the strange/good things we see when we
>   are driving on some back road, or going to some tiny, small town museum
>   where paint is flaking off the walls, but we see a great painting by
>   someone we've never heard of.
>
>   Amy Borezo

My comments:

>   it there, you can stop reading now. I think MFA programs should be
>   disbanded, or at least made to account for what they are doing, which is,
>   it seems, churning out more and more mediocre artists.

Not mediocre, so much as well-polished mid-level artists. There's a certain
amount of homogeneity that is the result of art-school artists earning their
regular income by teaching art. I've always been amused by the notion of a
university preofessor of Dada. Does that make sense?

>   I think there should be some way to disrupt this system by working outside
>   of it.  Older, more experienced, practicing artists should take in younger
>   artists as assistants/apprentices....

Of all the artists we know about in the last half-century, who of them holds an
MFA degrree? Johns? Nope, he left Univ South Carolina without even a bachelor's
degree. Rauschenberg? Nope, he went to Black Mountain College, an alternative
college. Fischl and Salle? Yup, straight from CalArts [I think] to SoHo.

>   The art world should broaden its base as well.

Well, just who is the art world? It's just all the folks who do what they do
that art thing.

>   It is a tight little circle
>   where many of the artists are seeing the same shows, then making work that
>   is necessarily influenced by those shows. The critics are all living in
>   that circle as well, and so write about the same things.

I'm confident that some 'marketplace Darwinism' will take care of things.
Breeding too close in the bloodline produces dimwitted children with six
fingers. Same with hermetic groups of people pursuing the same interest.
Diversification avoids this problem. But there's an ecological weather system
even in the artworld that blows seeds in from somewhere else (japponisme in the
19th century, for example, or Aboriginal rock art in the 20th) and turns the
homebound things upside down (Dada, Surrealism, Cubism, e.g., or naive/outsider
art made on a computer).


-------------------
Michael Brady
jbrady@email.unc.edu   http://www.unc.edu/~jbrady/index.html

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