Friday, April 17, 2009

Eating Our Young

Except for those under the tutelage of a "master" or in a historically fertile environment (Paris 1900's, New York 1940-50, etc.), visual artists on average tend not to find a mature "voice" until they hit their mid-thirties.

Artistic maturity is in essence having a solid base of work experience, a toolbox of seamless solutions to the craft of creating a work of art. In my opinion and this is the point, it's because visual art is the least intuitive, most contrived of the creative disciplines.

The practice of galleries and speculators in looking for the next "art star" genius straight out of art school consistently disappoints because schools don't teach how to make amazing, relevant artworks. They merely expose students to possibilities and to each other, the real work begins later. The chances of acquiring a really terrific Rock band at an art school are much greater.

In my final year I remember the owner of a prestigious local venue telling another soon-to-be graduate exactly what to paint to show in his gallery. She looked ready to burst into tears, it was also the last I saw or heard from her. Although common, fishing in this manner hit new heights with English art collecting impresario Charles Saatchi, whose gift it is to elevate anonymous neophytes to national treasures with a wave of his check book. He is soon set to host a reality TV show on "picking the winners". Early on Saatchi is credited with discovering the likes of Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin, et al. which has really given his street cred traction.

Bad practices only contribute to the cynicism and disinterest the public in general feel toward visual art. The mind blowing potential often becomes a mind numbing experience.

1 comment:

David Luhr said...

I definitely agree that art programs and schools do not prepare students to make real work, or to facilitate becoming an artist.

Often art students are taught a selection of techniques, given assignments to try those techniques, and then graduated into the working world without much knowledge or experience of the profession or community.

There is a major divide that I have experienced between the academic attempts to prepare art students and how students need to prepare for the real world. Less time needs to be spent on teaching what a single teacher feels is a useful technique (at least after preliminary classes), and more time needs to be spent on producing real, meaningful and identifiable bodies of work, coupled with experience in the art community and organizations.

Thank you for illustrating an important weakness in art education, more efforts towards improving this need to be made.