Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Art History as we know it

Jan Van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434


Art History as we know it tends to isolate art from people.
-Bruce Allsopp, "The Study of Architectural History."

This statement broke my heart - because I know it is true. I have read blog posts and heard classmates whisper that they hate abstract art, how they can't stand art history because there's more than one right answer or the professor is unfair. But those reactions, not reasons. The real reason they dislike art history is because, as Allsopp wrote, the way we teach it "isolates art from people."

I am writing a research paper on this predicament and possible solutions. My argument is that art history today:
1. Teaches the information in a lecture style which does not give students an opportunity to formulate their own conclusions
2. Is too focused on "good Western art," which sends a message of white superiority to our non-white students
3. Refuses to address the "why" of art

What do you think of these claims? How do you feel about art history in general? How do you think we art history educators can mend this disconnect between art and the people it is meant to serve?

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