- Paperback: 213 pages
- Publisher: University of Illinois Press; Reprint edition (May 17, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0252069501
- ISBN-13: 978-0252069505
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #435,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Why Art Cannot Be Taught: A Handbook for Art Students Reprint Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
In Why Art Cannot Be Taught: A Handbook for Art Students, James Elkins (The Object Stares Back), professor of art history, theory and criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, paints a nasty picture of what goes on in art schools. Critiques of students' art are comparable to "psychodramas," with the usual result of the criticized artist breaking down into tears. The chapter "Teaching and Learning Mediocre Art" begins from a sour premise, that "most artists do not make interesting art." Art students and teachers might find a grim sort of gallows accuracy in this deadly portrait of their activities.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Elkins, as usual, clears the air around art.
Elkins asks a lot of questions about education and the arts that are good to have in mind as you prepare lesson plans. They challenge you to think critically and to try to understand exactly what you are teaching. Often certain ideas in the visual arts are hard to describe, and so as a teacher you should be able to simplify an idea into its most basic form.
He discusses the idea that certain elements of creating art cannot be learned without a lot of practice, and simply making art, and therefore cannot be taught. While the student artist needs to do the work to learn the process or to develop their personal style, it does not negate the efforts of a teacher who instructed the student on how to develop those skills.
There are several reviews that criticize Elkins as being an art theorist, and therefore he cannot write about how to teach art, as he isn’t an artist. Again, as long as you are careful not to take everything literally, you can take ideas from this book and use it to supplement your lesson plans and it will be of value.
Despite the provocative title, Elkins has very little interest in transforming arts education. Rather, he wants to point to both the virtues and the pitfalls of critique-based evaluation, and to get both teachers and students to appreciate just what a mysterious and irrational process it is to attempt to teach/learn the studio arts.
The author is an insider speaking candidly for other insiders -- the audience for this valuable and intelligent essay may not be huge, but within that group, it will stimulate many electrifying conversations.