Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Comedy Of Art College


From a college sketchbook



I read an article recently that pointed out how useless art colleges are in turning out artist who can make a living from their art. The article was not talking about graphic designers, or animators but about the fine art that hangs in galleries.

This did not come as a surprise to me having experienced first hand the misery of art college. It was however a shock back then because I had come from an art high school, Art and Design, and had the opportunity to have been taught by some excellent teachers. The highlight of those years was the early morning painting group that I attended with Irwin Greenberg and Max Ginsburg . We gathered together every morning before the start of the school day and painted from the model for about 2 hours. Greeny and Max would work along side the students and after some time had gone by would make their rounds to offer instruction to each student.

At that time, (I don't know if they do the same now) The High School of Art and Design allowed you to pick your major (Illustration, cartooning, photography, fashion, etc.) and with  Greeny's help I was even able to manage getting into his class. The memory of that time continues to inspire me today.


Then I went to college.
From a college sketchbook


First I majored in illustration, which wasn't too bad and If I stuck with that, who knows I might have graduated. But I switched my major to fine art and entered the "Twilight Zone." let me share some highlights......


In one class while the model was posing the instructor played classical music (nice) and said that he wanted us to draw more from the music than the model in front of us (okay)  and then he turned out the lights. It was pitch black in the room. The model was posing, I couldn't see the model, I couldn't see my paper, I couldn't see my hand. If I could see the instructor I would've thrown my charcoal at him .


Another time I was asked to make a very careful drawing from the model. Which I did. When we were done the instructor asked us to rip the drawing into pieces then arrange the pieces randomly to form a new image. I failed her class.

Then there was the model who was also a performance artist and decided to combine the two as he posed for the class. Somewhere during the performance he found his way underneath the model stand, carrying it upon his back as he crawled on his hands and knees like a turtle across the room.


Oil sketch done while in college
If I could think of one thing I was most bothered by it would be the time I brought an art book to class on the work of John Singer Sargent. The instructor asked If I liked Sargents work and I told her that I very much did. She smiled and continued with the class. The next session she came with copies of articles about Sargent. She gave them to me and asked me to read them. They were all negative articles. At another session she gave me another article comparing  Alex Katz to Sargent???  Their work couldn't be father apart. What bothered me was that she wasn't trying to build on what inspired me or on my tastes but trying to change my mind and direction altogether. But then I guess that is a big problem with how art is taught in college, you should be able to pick instructors who you would want to learn from and usually if there is a good instructor space is limited and you get whatever else is left to fulfill your credit requirement.


 At one time French academies  (I know that's a bad word for some) were where you got instruction in everything but painting. To learn to paint you would have to be accepted in to a painters studio (atelier).  It would be nice if art colleges would work with artists ateliers so that students could get the instruction they prefer. There should be some program with art schools and local art galleries as well. A show once a year in a local gallery promoting new talent in their senior year would be a good way to introduce the artist to the art world.


In my humble opinion of course. 


Bellow is a video that was attached to the article I read.

4 comments:

  1. No not funny, haha or peculiar, this is pathetic and sadly the truth, $$$ has replaced art

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  2. "At one time French academies (I know that's a bad word for some) were where you got instruction in everything but painting. To learn to paint you would have to be accepted in to a painters studio (atelier). It would be nice if art colleges would work with artists ateliers so that students could get the instruction they prefer. There should be some program with art schools and local art galleries as well. A show once a year in a local gallery promoting new talent in their senior year would be a good way to introduce the artist to the art world."

    This is pretty much how it works in Germany. The students choose a professor who's also an artist and they have classes discussing their work with him/her in groups with the other students. Though the professor also chooses which students he/she's accepting in his/her classes. But after that you get your own atelier space and work on whatever you want. If you choose a professor you can relate to he can also help you improve your work. For this you first need to get to know the professors a bit to choose the one that fits you best. There are a great variety of professors with different styles and techniques. And at the end of each year or semester your work will displayed in the school or an art gallery.

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    Replies
    1. That's a wonderful system that respects the student.
      Every school here has a gallery and there is an annual show of student work. What I was thinking as an added thing would be to work with a commercial gallery to have a senior show to introduce young artist to the buying public.

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