Art Quote for the Day

taken from the book, Why Art Cannot Be Taught – A Handbook for Art Students by James Elkins:

“We retain the Romantic re-invention of the “master class”. In order to foster individuality and freedom ( and in part, to return to what they thought of as authentic medieval workshops), the Romantics expanded the advanced levels of instruction.  Students worked under masters, who helped them to develop their “individual genius”.  Comtemporary teachers adhere to this in that they do not try to foist a uniform standard on each student they advise. Instead they try to feel their way to an understanding of what each student is all about.  Teachers acknowledge that everyone has different ideals, directions, talents, and potentials.  That sense of individuality is quintessentially Romantic.

We still think – sometimes- that art cannot be taught.  Some Romantics thought that only  techniques could be taught in art school.  Hermann Grimm ( son of one of the brothers Grimm) held that art was “altogether unteachable”. Later in the century Whistler said, “I don’t teach art; with that I cannot interfere: but I teach the scientific application of paint and brushes.  These ideas are extreme , but they follow directly from the less radical idea that artists are individuals : if everyone is differernt then there’s no telling how art can be taught .The Romantics were the first to explore the idea that art cannot be taught, and some of their reason are also my reasons in this book.”


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