(This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

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(This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby Alitogata » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:50 pm

Ok .. here is a very hot topic for discussion.
Please watch this video ( duration about 10 minutes).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jdbjzs2_1rY

The guy that made this video, Lars Degenhardt is his name, is an art student at a German university.
According to what he says on his video the professors of the university that he attends don't consider as art the paintings that he is interested to make, mostly in an illustrative style or manga style, and pushed him to change his painting style on something more abstract or experimental that would supposedly have more meaning than the "pretty" illustrations that he makes. ( that's the concept of the video)
Watch the video in order to see what they asked him to make, it provides some images and also listen to what he has to say about the critiques that he got about his illustrative work.
Lars says that during his studies he felt like he was forced to make certain kind of artworks in order to comply with his professors demands and keep for creating at home any artworks made in the style that he is familiar with, which interests him of course more.

The interesting part though is on the comments where the audience is divided. ( read some of the comments too if you like. They are very interesting and very constructive for youtube's average discussions! :lol: ha ha ).

Half of the commenters support the idea that the professors ought not to reject his technique and painting style as non artistic and push him to change it completely at the cost of losing completely his direction regarding the artworks that he would naturally create otherwise and not having the chance to develop, through his studies ( that he is paying for) the technique of the style that he are interested for.

The other half supports the idea that this is the job of the professors, to push the students towards areas that they have never worked on, in order to broaden their experience and expand their expressive means, ignoring the technique limitations. Painting for instance in abstract style in order to liberate them or something of that ilk.

My opinion about the subject is that art is first and foremost all about self expression and that everything can be considered as art as long as there is some skill involved in the whole matter. The content of a painting, the message in other words of an artwork is also of some importance, as long as the message or content comes naturally from the artist's personality and interests and is not the result of enforcement because a professor or the art market demands it. Who said, at the end of the day, that the so condemned "prettiness" is not allowed to be the content of an artwork?

Anyway.. The topic is hot, there are 11.500 comments under the video, ( not to mention the more than 1 million views) and I'll be interested to read your own opinion on the matter.
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Re: (This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby Andre Jute » Sat Dec 23, 2017 1:27 am

I didn't go to art college; I studied psychology and economics and business management. My art teacher at school, a very substantial painter in his own right, wasn't at all keen, in his words to my mother, "to have his talent smoothed down by the theorists" in the art college. But he essentially shared the view of Lars Degenhardt's professors that commercial art is not ART. When he heard I went into advertising, he told my mother on the street that he blamed her for permitting me to sell out. I thought that was funny, as I went into advertising because I was a merchant banker (I'd been sent to the agency to recover money we lent them, found advertising more exciting than banking, lent the bankrupt agency more money, and just stayed on to watch our money), and I didn't work as a designer but as an executive troubleshooter, which was also how very occasionally in emergencies I'd design or write ads, which usually won prizes for us. When I painted realistic portraits, I was in favour again, but when (because I fell out with a gallery owner, nothing to do with conviction) I started painting abstracts on mirrors with a spray can as a practical joke, he was livid and never spoke to me again until he died.

My own attitude is entirely different. To me anything done with passion is a form of art. I judge the result on affect, the emotional impact, not on mastery of technique, which I take for granted. (That probably explains why Chinese art, which is a form of overcoming unnecessary, self-created, artificial barriers, for example working on that crappy paper with your wrist at a painful angle, leaves me cold.) It may be that my attitude was formed by experience, including my teacher, rather than by any theory. But it seemed to be borne out when I wrote criticism of any art form which I didn't happen to be practicing at that time, and many sensible people found my criticism enlightening.

Degenhardt made a mistake going to college. Most college professors, especially in the arts departments, are losers who don't have the balls to practice what they preach in the marketplace. I have quite a bit of experience of this in literature, where Master of Fine Arts courses are mostly useless, and whenever I teach a short course at one, I do so on the distinct understanding that no student will be passed who hadn't sold a piece of work commercially, which they resist so much that I was invited less and less. Essentially, arts faculties exist to turn out clones of themselves, people who aren't good for anything except teaching in faculties who turn out more clones, ad infinitum. That explains why so many real life artists can continually put together short practical courses for other painters or aspirants to learn technique or insight from them.

Degenhardt already had talent and, if he wanted to refine or broaden it, he should instead have indented himself to a master of his preferred form of expression, manga, for six months or even a year or two spent among two or three masters in his field. For someone with so much natural talent, art school is waste of valuable years in which his creativity would be at a higher peak than almost any other time in his life. He certainly made a mistake by not leaving at the end of his first year, when it must already have been clear that the losers on the faculty could teach him nothing useful.

Interestingly, Degenhardt's experience at his viva (the interview with an outside assessor sitting in) bears out the complaint I and many other people have with "official" art these days: what you say about your art is a great deal more important than the art itself, a downwards spiral towards abstraction and visual meaninglessness first given wide public awareness by Tom Wolfe in his analysis of the critics who created Jackson Pollock, a nebbish, from scratch, simply because they were looking for a way to make themselves (that's the critics now) important and famous. Degenhardt didn't understand how it works, so he wasn't enthusiastic enough about the cowpat stuff they made him do -- which in any event also showed that he commands superior draftsmanship, which is exactly what they don't want to see, probably because they have none. I currently have as my screensaver about 600 paintings and sketches by Turner, and am struck again and again by how much even his vaguest water colour or sanguine sketch depends on his truly superior draftsmanship. Turner, who could be a sullen sod, didn't need to have a "narrative" about his art because its roots were real, as his draftsmanship shining through demonstrates again and again.

A spot-on thread, Marialena. Congratulations on bringing it up.
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Re: (This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby Alitogata » Sat Dec 23, 2017 1:36 pm

I didn't study either at the local Fine Arts University and I (retrospectively) think that I took the right decision for the wrong reasons. :lol:
The private Illustration Fine and Graphic Arts college that I attended, offered me by far more complete on multiple levels, studies on whatever has to do with visual arts and their techniques, without restricting me or enforcing me to follow specific creative directions.
The opposite in other words, of what is taking place systematically at the National School of Fine Arts where its students struggle to be accepted in the first place there in order to graduate after 5-6 years usually unsure or unable to recall the reasons why they attended the school for so many years.

The majority of the professors of this school of art, have no interest to teach techniques that would improve and advance their students ability to express themselves, but they focus on directing them towards unrelated with their initial interests artistic styles, something that I consider as the recipe for the ultimate failure because these students are forced to follow directions that they wouldn't follow under any other normal circumstances.

I strongly believe that in order to make an authentic and not pretentious, original artwork, you have in the first place to be yourself. To paint in the style that you like, according to your own inclination and talent, according to your taste or likings, with the skill that you initially and naturally have ( but you can always improve), the subjects that you like and you understand better, in manner that comes straight forward from your inner self.
How can someone ever be successful by painting subjects that doesn't understand or is interested on, imitating somebody else's technique or painting style, or by following other artists' creative path? There is no originality, self expression, development of skills when you try to be something other than your true creative self.

I think that the main purpose of art schools ought to be the teaching of students on whatever has to do with the technical matters of their craft. To give them the means to express themselves, not to tell them on what manner they'll express their creativity. Teach them not indoctrinate them.

As for the marketability of illustrations or manga...there is a huge market for that kind of artworks and some anime or manga illustrators are quite famous and respectable at their field. Japanese people bow at Kazuo Oga's talent, he is one of the most respected and well paid anime background illustrators working for studio Ghibli. Kazuo Oga is successful and respected for the kind of art that all these pretentious art school professors condemn as non art. :roll: As pretty images without content while studios and the whole anime industry, trust such illustrators' creative skills for the making of their movies.
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Re: (This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby Rebecca » Sat Dec 23, 2017 9:46 pm

This is such a familiar complaint. Fine art university and college programs have been doing this since at least the 60's, but it was developing all through the 20th century. As old guard method instructors retired, critics of the old guard became more entrenched. The graduates of new guard programs are now in charge. It may change, but how and when is not clear. Change usually happens when a gifted critic sways the all influential high art machine. I haven't been looking into progress with that lately.

Many of us on the forum have personal experience with the situation, and we've discussed it here. I found several but not all of these moments...
Each of these links puts you in the middle of the conversation. Something might have led up to, and more follows the post these links take you to:
Fear: http://www.sketching.cc/forum3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1896&start=15#p14164
Sketching for personal exploration is fine art: http://www.sketching.cc/forum3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1917
Matthew's figure drawings: http://www.sketching.cc/forum3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2300#p20516
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Re: (This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby mdmattin » Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:16 pm

This is a topic I can be counted on to rant about, and thanks to Rebecca's research, I see that I have already held forth at length on this forum, so I'll try not to repeat myself too much. My original experience going to art school back in the Seventies was very much as Degenhardt describes. My daughter started University as an art major in 2012 and encountered the same thing there; as Andre says, the art programs generate clones who then go on to run other art programs. She had the good sense to switch to biology after one semester and find other venues to develop her considerable art talents.
Even back in the Seventies there was plenty of representational work being produced, shown, and sold, even as it was studiously ignored in academia. That has only increased in the last couple of decades, with the web providing a platform for communities and markets outside of the old gallery system, including the atelier movement, social media, and of course, forums like this one. The entertainment industry has generated a demand for illustrators, concept artists, animators and others who also apply their creativity and skills to "fine arts." There is a true renaissance going on in the arts right now, but apparently word has not reached the arbiters of culture, or if so, they see it as a threat.
BTW, it was great to revisit all those good old Sketch Forum people in Rebecca's threads - are any of you out there lurking? What's new?
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Re: (This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby Alitogata » Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:09 am

mdmattin wrote:[...] My original experience going to art school back in the Seventies was very much as Degenhardt describes. My daughter started University as an art major in 2012 and encountered the same thing there; as Andre says, the art programs generate clones who then go on to run other art programs. She had the good sense to switch to biology after one semester and find other venues to develop her considerable art talents.
Even back in the Seventies there was plenty of representational work being produced, shown, and sold, even as it was studiously ignored in academia.


:lol: :lol: It seems that academia hates representational artworks the last 50+ years. The surreal of this situation is that people like representational artworks both as creators or potential buyers, something that makes me wonder about the reasons why academia is so disconnected from peoples' choices and taste.
Condemning audiences preferences, it is equal of condemning their students to become artists with no potential due to the lack of audience!
This is some sort of a rule here in Greece and that is I think the reason why Greek art scene is nowhere to be seen. Art school professors, students, professional artists, the local art market and the audience operate in completely different dimensions. :roll:
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Re: (This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby Alitogata » Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:14 am

mdmattin wrote:BTW, it was great to revisit all those good old Sketch Forum people in Rebecca's threads - are any of you out there lurking? What's new?
Matthew


Ok .. special mention on this part of your post.
That is something that I'd like to ask too.
This forum used to have lot of people that now seem to just lurking, ( judging by the views of the images uploaded here).
What happened and some otherwise regular members stopped participating on the discussions? Did it happened something that offended them or they don't find the discussions of this forum interesting enough?
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Re: (This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby Rebecca » Sun Dec 24, 2017 1:21 am

Here's another thread that led to the same discussion:
http://www.sketching.cc/forum3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1586#p10060
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Re: (This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby Alitogata » Sun Dec 24, 2017 11:09 am

Thank you Rebecca for looking up the older threads for us.
This is another fresh thread that has to do with this particular case though and I'm interested to read the opinions of those who didn't participate at the previous discussions.
Lurkers of this world, please, do join!
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Re: (This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby Rebecca » Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:28 pm

This decades-old complaint is gaining steam. Over recent years, more is being done about it. The organized responses always embed a gripe about the state of the high-art-machine in their mission statements. The artists who participate in the backlash share this complaint and tend to adhere to a training tradition that imposes an aesthetic standard. That standard also seems to contain photographic influences. Not in all cases, but whether subliminal or deliberate, the standard is in play. Even non artists praise realist paintings by declaring how very much they look just like photographs, whether or not the artist intended it that way. Representational painters who want to join the backlash movement will need to engage in endless rehashing of The Complaint, and listen to each other recite their training pedigree to prove they are the real stuff. To be an insider, they may need to recite proof of loyalty by uttering their own training pedigree, praising their teachers and their teachers' teachers up and down. To my ear, it sounds for all the world like an incantation and a zealous religion.

Recently however, there appears to be more moderate and inclusive philosophical reactions. Here is a sampling of both, taken from a google search with the following key words: representational art competition

https://artrenewal.org/Salon/Home

This one https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-inspiration/beauty-representational-art-and-modernism/
led to finding these:
https://figurativeartconvention.com/trac/
https://trac2018.com/
FACE figurative art convention & expo
https://figurativeartconvention.com/

Anyone who wants to go this direction can help influence it, or just go along and reap whatever reward might follow. It's hard to tell if these groups will themselves get any foot in the big-art-machine door. I still think they need a big-art-machine critic to bring sidelined trends into the fold. I personally cannot find any example from these artists' works that rise to the challenge. On the bright side, at least some of these artists are getting recognition, winning prizes, and selling their work, and that may be enough for now.
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Re: (This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby Alitogata » Mon Dec 25, 2017 6:05 pm

Merry Christmas everyone!! :D
You are talking about art ( any kind of art) like the audiences don't even exist. The artists might do whatever they like, against or for the art or academia establishments, or towards the market/art galleries trends but nobody pays attention on what the audience that is consistent by everyday people, do like.
Lot of people decorate for instance their homes with original photographs and that happens because photographs are easier to be found at the stores than original representational artworks. I think that if such kind of artworks were promoted more in the art market, the art galleries etc. then more people would be interested to buy them.
It is impossible to sell a "product" if you condemn it in the first place or you don't offer on top of that, the appropriate training to the "manufacturers" of this product, ( the art students ) in order to be able to create high quality "products" ( in quote because I'm talking about artworks).
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Re: (This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby Rebecca » Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:30 am

Alitogata wrote:You are talking about art ( any kind of art) like the audiences don't even exist...

I think I understand what you are saying. It’s one of two possibilities…

Are you saying that the people who started and run the programs I posted in the above links are artists who are doing this to please themselves? If so, I know at least one of these was started and promoted by a group of art buyers and art admirers. They are not the artists, but they brought many artists into the process. They are promoting training programs, and offering contests and shows to increase public exposure and facilitate sales. The collectors and general audience buy the art. They are also offering conferences so representational artists and their audience can find each other, so they can feel not so alone and perhaps help painting careers where none seemed possible before. It’s an organized place where both artists’ and audience’s voices can combine to form synergy. As a group, they promote beauty, unheard of for decades. To whatever extent they are able, the artists are doing what they feel they were put on the planet to do, and the audience is responding with money.

With all of this, I have not yet heard of any art program anywhere, whether old or new, that eases painting students into their professional lives. It takes years (even decades) to cultivate a following. They offer a show or two, but each artist must find representation as best they can. Galleries know their audience, and choose their artists based on that. They take a huge portion of the sales. Making a living by painting what they love remains difficult for artists, even if their work is appealing to a ready audience. A photographer can make much more money for their time than an artist who is selling one-of-a-kind pictures. In the gallery, photography can be a much more affordable option to the average person looking for wall decoration. Anyway, there has always been tension between painters and their audience. The audience wants what it wants, and artists want what they need so they can keep producing what the audience wants. Cost vs. price rarely matches.

By posting the above links, I was showing that there are some new organized efforts to serve artists who believe in beauty, and find them an audience. They offer education outlets for both artists and audience, and they have venues where beauty oriented art is offered and sold. Sure, there are limits to their breadth and reach, but these links show that I am not ignoring audience.

Were you saying that I was only talking from an artist’s point of view — not bringing up audience in the sentences that I wrote? Guilty. However, to redeem myself, I offer that every professional move I make considers my imagined audience. But that’s me with my career path. I fully acknowledge that my needs are idiosyncratic — I can’t presume to tell others where their career should go, including whether they should consider audience. I can only give recognition and personal experience with The Complaint and its current solutions. Both artists and audiences are actively using the current solutions. It’s better than when there was nothing.
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Re: (This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby Alitogata » Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:51 pm

I wasn't talking personally. What I'm saying is that though there are groups who are trying to revive representational art there are not that many art galleries to present and sell in reasonable ( comparable to the photos) prices this kind of art to the audience. People still like representational art, and this doesn't make such kind of art less fine art than the modern or post modern one. Just because people like it doesn't make it a crap as they are not crap the photographs that are sold in better prices and have managed to replace in some cases the representational paintings.
As you said in your previous post, representational art doesn't have any more the quality that similar style of artworks had in the past. That happens because this style of art is not taught properly at the art schools any more. Art schools encourage their students to paint in a modern, more abstract experimental style and that happens because art galleries prefer this kind of art for their usually ultra rich clients, ignoring systematically the sales towards the middle budget and range customers, that would never invest huge amounts of money for buying artworks, let alone the modern, post modern, experimental kind of artworks.
The art galleries dictate what kind of artists will be trained by the art schools and the art schools provide to the art galleries the kind of artists that these prefer.
The vast majority of the audience that is preferring representational art is ignored as a not that high budget potential clientele. And on the opposite side the artists that don't confront to the modern art standards, are ignored by the fine art galleries, they are considered as commercial artists, that supposedly are less refined that the fine art artists ( whatever fine art means nowadays) and they don't have access via the art galleries to the right audience. The one that is not interested for the commercial application of representational art but doesn't either have the budget to invest millions for buying a single artwork.
The institutions that were supposed to promote art in all its forms, condemn certain kind of art as commercial and so not that fine and ignore both its creators and its potential market leaving a gap that Chinese copyists fill, ( those who are making copies of older well know representational artworks) that people buy like crazy because there isn't something equivalent available from contemporary artists, or simply they don't know where to get it.
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Re: (This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby Andre Jute » Tue Dec 26, 2017 3:05 pm

The problem with art that people like (mainly representations of something they like or aspire to), as distinct from what the chattering classes on commercial galleries' mailing lists like (mainly abstractions they don't understand), is that the gallery crowd is a defined market with money or influence with those who have money, whereas the people individually have print money, not even watercolor discretionary (spendable) money, never mind oil money, and it's difficult to reach enough of them to exchange art for money. It's a matter of access to a defined market on the one hand, which the galleries have built up quite inexpensively, and on the other hand to discoverability and intrinsic value for the artist in a very diffuse market, reached only by expensive experts in major advertising agencies. This is why the highest paid ad-men in the best agencies (big ones, not the boutiques) are statisticians, demographers, mass market psychologists, and related computer experts, not writers or designers or account executives. That's why politicians spend so much on advertising, because the same class of person (often the very same people) tell them it is necessary.
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Re: (This isn't ART?】 Studying Art at University

Postby Rebecca » Tue Dec 26, 2017 10:07 pm

Alitogata wrote:I wasn't talking personally... The art galleries dictate what kind of artists will be trained by the art schools and the art schools provide to the art galleries the kind of artists that these prefer... The institutions that were supposed to promote art in all its forms, condemn certain kind of art as commercial and so not that fine and ignore both its creators and its potential market leaving a gap that Chinese copyists fill, ( those who are making copies of older well know representational artworks) that people buy like crazy because there isn't something equivalent available from contemporary artists, or simply they don't know where to get it.

It does sound as if there are no outlets for inexpensive tried-and-true-styled hand made pictures in your area. Here, in California, we see many many outlets for this kind of art. There are all sorts of low-end galleries that carry this art up and down the state. Prices are quite affordable to the buyer. Not only that, art fairs happen everywhere at all times of the year. Tourists travel from all around to pick up a picture or two, as well as 3-d pieces. It's happening all through the US. Artists also sign up for street booths where they can sell their wares. Restaurants, department stores, malls and public buildings show and sponsor sales of local artists' work. There are art clubs that host shows and contests. Anyway, in terms of outlets for the popular themes you write about, we've got those in abundance in the US. The bottleneck here is access to high quality training, but it sounds like in your country, even if you found that training, your bottleneck is access to outlets for sales.
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