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'' But it's universities that support artists.'' It was a shining afternoon, and the air was fragrant with the scent of eucalyptus trees. That figure does not include students of commercial art and design, who will receive another 500 M. There's no official tally of students enrolled in M. Does this mean that we're in the midst of a cultural flowering, a bright new renaissance? '' The art is either feminist or deconstructionist, and basically it looks like homework, because what is homework but learning how to follow the teacher's rules?Burden is a heavyset man with a fringe of brown bangs, and he was dressed haphazardly in an orange button-down shirt and beige shorts. '' In truth, it has been three decades since contemporary art acquired the look of the seminar room.'' Do you know anyone who has three or four years to spend on a work of art these days? have already exhibited their work in New York or Los Angeles, and it is not unusual to find dealers trolling the school's halls in search of the next 20-something sensation.'' These dealers are like 16th-century Dutch traders,'' says Paul Schimmel, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. '' The way to get a good art school,'' he tells me with gentle irony, ''is to hire interesting faculty. She made her name with '' Post-Partum Document,'' a chronicle of motherhood that included her son's stained diapers displayed in Plexiglas boxes -- a symbol of his passage into a ''phallocentric'' culture. The sculptor Nancy Rubins, who is married to Chris Burden and is known for her baroque assemblages of airplane parts and other choice detritus, wishes more emphasis were placed on art history. You have to last through time.'' Wise words, but one wonders how much they count in an age when art students are fixated on exhibiting their work the moment they get out of school, or sooner.
In the 70's, California Institute of the Arts, which was founded by Walt Disney amid the orange groves of Valencia, became a finishing school for the New York art world.
(Eric Fischl, David Salle and Ross Bleckner are among its grads.) Other prominent schools include Otis College of Art and Design, the University of California at Irvine and, as you hear wherever you go, Art Center College of Design, the latest academy of the millisecond.
While art schools have flourished since the 16th century, it was only in the 1960's that they became lodged in universities -- and critical theory was elevated above craftsmanship.
Whereas once students attended life classes and learned skills by drawing from a model ('' We will begin by drawing, we will go on drawing and then we will continue to draw,'' Ingres famously instructed his charges), today they sit in paint-free classrooms devising strategies for subverting the patriarchal order.
Back in the 1970's, Burden was a legendary wild man, a conceptual artist who bled for his work -- he spent five days jammed into a small metal locker, rolled on broken glass and crucified himself on the roof of a Volkswagen, with nails driven through his palms. Now he's 53, a tenured professor of art, with an annual salary of $102,000 and a package of benefits provided by the state of California. The proverbial romantic artist, struggling alone in a studio and trying to make sense of lived experience, has given way to an alternate model: the university artist, who treats art as a homework assignment. In fact many critics feel that art schools are directly responsible for a decline in the quality of art.
'' People think collectors support artists,'' he tells me. This spring, some 2,000 aspiring Rembrandts received Master of Fine Arts degrees, an estimate based on figures from the National Center for Education Statistics, in Washington. degrees, nor students of creative writing, filmmaking, acting, music and dance. programs, but in 1996, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the U. Department of Education, more master's degrees were conferred in the visual and performing arts -- a total of 10,280 degrees -- than in English (8,000), biology (6,000) or math (4,000). '' When I go to the New York galleries, all I see is art-school art,'' says Barbara Rose, the art historian.Stopping into the studio of Sandeep Mukherjee, an Indian student with an elegantly shaved head, I found him at work on an interesting drawing based on photographs. '' I don't want my name in your article,'' he said, explaining that he recently had a one-man show at the Steffany Martz Gallery, in Manhattan, and ''it would hurt my reputation if people knew I was a student.'' Someone else pointed out that you can't damage your reputation if you don't have one.Delia Brown, who paints pictures of herself dressed in campy ancien regime costumes, giggled, and said on behalf of everyone, '' We each nurture the delusion that we'll be the one artist to make it.'' Are academies good or are academies bad?While modern art began as an assault on the academy, post-modern art might be described as a return to the academy.Instead of the old academy of rules, now we have the Academy of Cool, schools that treat avant-garde rebellion as a learned occupation.For much of this century, the question elicited the same vehement answer.Academies, the argument went, were anathema to creativity.Conceptualism and minimalism raised brainy questions about art and visual perception, while students today favor art about nonart issues.Blame Derrida and his fellow French theorists, whose invasion of academia fostered a fashion for deconstructing language in the 70's, patriarchy in the 80's and gender in the 90's.To call an artist ''academic'' was to insult his work, implying that it was unimaginative, rote, banal.Virtually all the great modernists, from Cezanne on down, felt undisguised contempt for the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, the mighty Paris institution where students began by copying plaster casts, progressed to the life class to study the (male) nude and, with few exceptions, emerged as proficient, B-minus painters of scenes culled from history or mythology.