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Lesson Plans

Re: On - What Art Is

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Robert Alexander Fromme (rfromme)
Mon, 22 Jul 1996 09:15:35 -0600

At 01:03 PM 7/22/96 +0800, dabssw wrote:

>There has been much talk on deffining art and approaches, models and
>methods to teaching art. Recent reading has directed me to...... deleted......

>selves so that they are the men and women on the journey of discovering art
>for their own meaning not borrowing from art already created.
>I hope this might generate a few thoughts and ideas amongst you.

As I follow this thread, I find myself thinking back to years of
moonlighting in colleges, adjunct teaching art appreciation. One of the
texts which we used for the course was "Artforms" by Duane and Sarah
Preble. In the early chapters, those authors used a quote of Carroll
Quigley, from :Needed: A Revolution in Thinking?" in The Journal of the
National Educations Associations 57, no. 5 (May 1968):9 as follows:

As a group, we have developed "a distinctive way of looking at the
world that is not the way the world actually is but simply the way
our group conventionally looks at our world."

I include Quigley's remark because the varied e-mail exchange about the
merits (and lack of merit) concerning certain art in contemporary museums
illuminates the diversity in cognitive systems among our members. As each
of us come to evaluate art works, we can not escape the system of belief
which each of us as individuals hold as "the truth". That truth varies
according to our group, the situations of our upbringing, our education, and
our unique personal experiences with the creative experience , etc..

The Preble text goes on to suggest that,"Every society's 'cognitive system'
keeps it functioning; yet major human problems are caused by the fact that
almost any group may believe that its way of seeing things is reality-- the
way the world actually is."

Of course this all leads up to the old aesthetic posturing of the
"subjective" approach on one side, the "relativist" in the middle and the
"objective" on the other side of any attitude toward any example of fine art.

If you have learned the three positions by other names, I will give you
the general positions.....

The individual who takes a "subjective" position places a value on the idea
that every individual who has responded to a work of art has a right to
their unique position. They can also change their mind and there is
value in a personal position which must be respected by others, even if it
is not a shared opinion.

The "relativist" attitude would be that we must look at a work of Fine
Art with two concerns in mind. One must accept the subjective aspects
which color art making and appreciation, yet....there are also intrinsic
standards or an expected level of quality which must also enter into any
judgment of the Fine Arts.

The "objective" position will start from an assumption that there are set
standards by which all art must be judged. They do not change and they
have no relation to time, place (culture), or media. They are set.

The previous remarks are, of course, based on the writing of Quigley and
the Preble couple. Many of the texts which we have used for teaching in the
middle and high school classes take related positions on the subject.

Over the years, I have noticed that students who have had a chance to
experience life and those who have traveled, understand why we
must consider the system of thought which surrounded the artist as a
work was created and why it is important to try to accept the limitations of
our own background and experience when we come to the task of art
appreciation. Some of the younger kids have a little more trouble with the
position because they have had little experience in situations other then
the "cognitive system" in which they have been raised.

Bob Fromme