Note: To protect the privacy of our members, e-mail addresses have been removed from the archived messages. As a result, some links may be broken.

Lesson Plans

Quality/Contemporary Art

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Ckart (
Mon, 22 Jul 1996 09:56:47 -0600

The discussion regarding contempory art has been really thoughtful, with a
variety of viewpoints expressed. Isn't it great that we have the background
and training to view such works and make personal decisions about the
quality/purpose/skill/intent of an artist's work without buying into a
collector/critic or museum's hype?

I would agree that discovering the artist's intent (in some contemporary
pieces) is harder to discern without a personal narrative from the artist,
and yet if the artist needs to write a narrative has he/she accomplished
the challenge of visual communication? Biographies are great insights to
the masters' works, and yet in such short supply on many contemporary

Mindful of who we are (teachers), most of you pointed out that the
important aspect is to get students to think about/discuss and otherwise
respond to art in all its many hues and forms. I'm reminded of an
assignment one professor gave -- take any object and draw it 25 times
DIFFERENTLY. I became well acquainted with a green pepper (and pattern,
texture, repetition, distortion, shading, realism, abstraction, etc.) by
the time I finished the task! The value was not in the product but the

Is it this process that is ignored when viewing contemporary works? Some
of it looks so simplistic/minimal or 'thrown together'. Is it more
comfortable to look at familiar (recognizable) forms in art? At least there
the mastery level of the the artist is easier to judge (does it look
real)-- and everyone feels a qualified critic at that level. Maybe it's the
nature of our sound-bite culture that rejects contemporary works -- if it
can't be understood in 30 seconds or less it can't be very important or
worth the time. Enter the museum, critic or collector to intellectualize
its importance. Taken individually, perhaps the pieces Vance refers to are
no more than experimental and unresolved. Collectively, the process (of
creating) is taking art in many new directions. This too is a reflection
of our culture and the times.

I hope my students learn to value the process to make their own valid
judgements about the quality and importance of art.