Art Quote for the Day


There have long been doubts about whether art can be taught.  They go back at least to Plato’s concept of inspiration, mania, and Aristotle’s concepts of genius and poetic rapture ( the ecstaticos). If art is made with the help of mania, then certainly ordinary teaching can have little effect – and if  it is inspired teaching, then it isn’t teaching in the sense I mean it here, but something more like infection.  I may give someone the flu, but I am hardly ever sure when or how I did it.  Teaching mania by being ecstatic and inspirational is like being infected and spreading disease: you can’t really control it.  Plato and Aristotle are everyone’s historical heritage, to the extent that virtually all art instruction in the world today is influenced by Western norms, and I think most people would be happy to say that art depends somehow on mania and therefore can’t be taught.  Yet historically, the voices of doubt have been overwhelmed by the institutions that claim to teach art.

Why Art Cannot be Taught – James Elkins