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12 March 2006 @ 09:10 pm
History schmistory.  
Studio art majors are required to take art history courses.
Art history majors are not required to take studio courses.

This makes me think less of art history as an entire field of study; even if an art historian does studio work on their own, the fact that their academic work is done in a field that does not recognize the importance of doing the thing you are studying is unbelievable. I can't think of any other fields that get away with this. It's like letting an anthropologist get everything they know from things other people have written and not expect them to ever do an ethnography of their own. Darren compares it to set designers who don't actually build sets; they end up designing things that can't actually be made.

I'd like to ask art historians, how much can you say about what Max Beckmann was trying to do with a self-portrait if you've never done one of your own? How well can you understand Caravaggio if you've never stared at a still life set-up for days on end trying to figure out with your own eyes what the hell is going on with the light? Cuz I've done both those things before looking at their work and I'll tell you, you don't know as much as you should.

The fact is, everyone needs theory and history to inform the work they do. Also, days are pretty short. We need people who devote most of their intellectual time to art history because they'll get more done that they will publish and share with the rest of us. But if your work is focused on looking at things other people have made you must have a background in the process of making things. Otherwise you're just sitting around thinking about shit.