Art Quote for the Day

Art can be taught, but nobody knows quite how. A typical piece of evidence here is the track record of art schools – the fact that famous artists have graduatd from them.  School catalogs typicallly list their graduates who went on to become famous.  Instructors praise the work of famous students as if they helped guide them to their success.  Still, there is very little evidence that art schools have control over the production of really interesting art.  It may be nothing more than chance.  If an art school is around long enough, there are likely to be famous people who studied there.  Sooner or later , a student will find an instructor, or a curriculum,or an environment that is just right, and that might then propel them to do work many people find interesting.  But do teachers have the slightest control over the interaction, or the vaguest idea of how it works?  How do we know that the art school was anything more than a neutral backdrop, a place that didn’t stop the artist from developing?  How do we know that another environment – say, a steel factory – might not have been better? The problem with this first theory is that is isn’t a theory.  It proposes a correlation without proving a cause – and-effect relation.  In that respect, it is like the many studies linking cancer to various foods; there might be a correlation between drinking coffee and getting cancer, but that does not prove there is a causal link.

Why Art Cannot be Taught – A Handbook for Art Students by James Elkins

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