Picture of My Father Modeling Jackets, 2009:
So summer is over, and the new school year has begun, and for 12 hours every month, I have the privilege of teaching Introduction to Art Concepts at
Beings that that is my only official obligation for the time being, I have much time to think about the class and even more time to prepare for it. I have decided to use the blog here to post my thoughts and strategies on how I present the information of the class, in the order I typically give it. Now I understand that for many of you out there (all 4 of you that actually read this) this information is as basic as it gets when thinking, chatting or writing about art. What I’m hoping is for a dialogue to occur that will help me fine tune my approach to the class, or at the very least, my personal thinking about the topics discussed.
So what is this class? To begin with, it is a lecture class, frequently an option for filling a humanities requirement, and is often referred to as “Art Appreciation”. I never took it myself in college, as taking two semesters of art history survey was the preferred option for actual art majors. In some schools it is viewed as “diet art history”, i.e. for non-art majors, though the content as I teach it I could see as very valuable to beginning art students (though the overwhelming majority of my students in this class are not art majors. Not yet, anyways.). In the class we discuss topics such as what art is, why art is made, how art is talked about, what the different mediums of art are, and a brief survey of the history of art all over the world, though from the general point of view of the Western tradition. The meta-structure of the course is basically two tiered, split at the midterm, with the definitions of art and how it is talked about coming first, and a fast forward survey of art history coming second.
I begin by trying to get an idea of what the students think art is in the first place. The inevitable first response when I pose the question is “paintings”, with sculptures and other general disciplines following . I try to show how while music, literature, and theatre are indeed art, it is visual art specifically we deal with. I show them the following series of images, discussing with them on each whether they think it is art or not.
Next: Aesthetics, the Western tradition, and what do artists actually do, and the idea of creativity.