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Lesson Plans

The Emperor's New Cloths

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Vance McSwain (vmcswain)
Tue, 16 Jul 1996 09:57:51 -0500

Recently I was attending a seminar at TCU preparing me to teach the =
College Board's Advanced Placement courses in studio art. I spent three =
days learning to evaluate student portfolios and I saw hundreds of =
examples of gifted and talented students' work.

Then, the class visited the Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth and saw =
an exhibit by a living painter named Sir Howard Hodgkin. The museum =
thought highly of his work and considered him an "important painter". =
His work is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per painting. The =
other art teachers and I were standing in amazement while we looked at =
these paintings as the docent explained why these were masterpieces. No =
one said anything, but suddenly I realized I considered these paintings =
horrible and from what I had been learning the previous three days, =
would not get a high school senior a top scholarship or get him a rating =
high enough to get the college credit he was seeking by taking the =
Advanced Placement Course at his or her high school.

These paintings were clearly an example of the Emperor's new cloths. In =
other words, a respected collector or museum simply declared this =
painter important. None of the top collectors or museums will dare =
question the quality of the paintings because they all have praised many =
of the same artists and it would bring all of their opinions into =

This one event has forever changed my point of view and because of it, I =
have begun to investigate the contemporary art market for the upper tier =

I know what I am saying is controversial, but I am simply no longer =
content to blindly accept the opinions of noted collectors and museums =
as to what Is an important work of art and why. I believe there is too =
much room for vested interests and greed on the part of those who are =
basically "setting the standards of taste" for an entire art form.

What do you think?,
Vance McSwain

  • Maybe reply: Wendy Meyer/Kristi Madison: "Re: The Emperor's New Cloths"