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Art for Life

Art for Life [PDF]

Ahhhh yes, Michael Foucau, we meet again.The Pope of the Post-Modernists was quoted in paragraph two of this chapter, so at least the author is honest on which philosophical camp he stands in and shows his cards up front.I love art history, and was brought up in one very explicit (traditional) tradition.So it’s easy for me to recognize other perspectives and easier for me to pick up their this is what we stand for and this is why we stand for it arguments.First, an examination of post modernism, a discussion of extremes, the issue of rebellion, and then a discussion of multiple perspectives.
My views on post-modernism are influenced by my own educational background in the complete opposite tradition, and then my college and adult life where I’ve intellectually dipped my foot in pretty much ever camp and considered the topics I’ve always loved from different fields (as in art from the mathematical perspective).Post modernists do make some good points, certainly societal factors must be considered.In some ways it’s a nurture versus nature debate, and the post-modernists advocate it being 99.9% nurture whereas the traditionalists (for lack of better word) advocate 99.9% nature.Is it possible to achieve synthesis, I wonder?Is it possible that the truth lies somewhere between these two poles?
One common trend in this philosophical camp is that traditional interpretations are inaccurate because they are so far to one side.The post-modern response is like a rubber band that is pulled taut and then let go to fling wildly to the other side.I’m not going to say yee shall study Michelangelo because his works are in the Vatican.That would be ridiculous, would it not?But then why should I say you must study this lesbian, blind, amputee, minority’s expressions of paint chips during a time of war because they were marginalized and therefore is the bestest work of art?My question to the post modernists is, why is one extreme any more valid than any other extreme?
There are moments when it’s valid to be the contrarian and challenge conventional wisdom, but then there are moments when it’s taken too far.Which brings us back to our friend Pope Foucault.He goes as far as saying that examining art in a linear organization shouldn’t be done since that’s what’s been done.Really?To organize time in a linear fashion is “western notion.”With (a pinch of) respect, good sir, what do you know about physics?Time is the fourth dimension of space-time which shapes this thing we call the universe (and works of art, by the way).Unless you can tell me how you are in a position to theoretically deconstruct a dimension of the universe maybe you should just recognize you’re making a point just for making a point.To suggest time goes linearly isn’t a western notion, it’s just science mixed with common sense.
In 1984, there is the moment when Winston calls out another rebel for being “a rebel from the waist down,” his point being that she rebelled not due to a deep rooted belief in the moral or philosophical or political structures in place but just because she liked sex.And there are instances where, such as suggesting you shouldn’t study something linearly, when I want to say, OK my friend, sounds like you’re just being a rebel without a cause.
Another critique of post modernism and its subsequent educational philosophies is that it skips foundational knowledge in an attempt to rush into higher level thinking.And I think that’s a mistake.Foundational knowledge is the first layer of the building.Actually the founder of BASIS schools agrees with me here, we had a good chat about this once.If you want your opinions on art or any other topic to be respected, you must be very well stepped in the why and what behind your opinion.That means having an absurd amount of facts in order to back your thinking up ready to go.I guess what I mean is, your opinion on Guernica isn’t the most important thing in the world, and frankly until you are able to discuss the artistic tradition and social conditions around it factually and authoritatively, I’m not as interested in listening to your opinion.I will be much more interested once you understand your position.Foundational knowledge, get some.
And that’s the big critique on post-modernism.You are essentially forming students’ opinions for them without allowing them to consider other philosophical camps.Doesn’t sound too open minded to me.Multiple perspectives mean also considering different philosophical traditions.You advocate a position that is as extreme and explicit as traditionalists, but you are 100% in denial that you advocate a moral position.I think that’s a deceit to self and a disservice to students.As someone raised and stepped in a philosophy that said, trust us, we’re right, just whatever you do don’t go read the other side’s stuff (or you’re evil) I shudder to deny students different intellectual perspectives.Therefore when Pope Foucault says study it this way, give them these opinions, just whatever you do don’t show them the other sides’ stuff (because those were established by white males in the past and that’s just not fair) I notice the similarity in group think training.Just say no.
So, while I may have to use this book, I will be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.As someone who was raised in one extreme I just don’t think that’s what’s best for students nor can I bring myself to promote this generations’ new you better believe in this or else philosophy.I want to expose them to various perspectives so that they may better understand their opinions and then form an opinion in whatever direction, so long as they support it well.And with that, I’m going to go admire some Jackson Pollock.

Art is the means of recording individual and collective feelings and events.
The study of art history gives us many perspectives on the moral and spiritual character of humankind.Although people everywhere have certain overarching concerns, each culture [imagine if that said race instead of culture] has a different sensibility. 117
For example, the French historian Michael Foucault rejected the western linear organization of history and suggested that history should be constructed in a cultural context of unrelated chronological events to better understand the differences as well as similarities.117…this promotes a “better” understanding eh?The cult of Foucault baaaas yes!
Art historians look for information more about a visual artifact of performance whereas critics look for information within the work of art.Art history has to do with external, contextual information; art criticism has to do with internal, formal information.Art historians want to know (1) who made the work, when, where, why, and how; (2) what the style of the work is; (3) what influences (artistic, social-cultural, technological) affected its production; and (4) what impact the work had on other works or on society.
Various approaches may be taken.Some art historians set out to develop a chronology.Others look for an evolution of form, style, or symbols – that is called iconography.Some seek to ascertain the place of a work or movement within the history of ideas.Others attempt to place a work in a cultural context.Still others look at the lives and personalities of the artists.Another aspect of understanding art is the impact of a work or performance on other artists and the larger public…for our purposes, social approaches to art history are more useful than formalistic or purely chronological approaches. 120
Art for life helps us understand people through their art rather than understanding only the form of the art…The sort of art historical inquiry we advocate blends with aesthetic inquiry, art criticism, the social sciences, and so on.
Avoiding discussion of religion and other difficult topics leads to ignorance and conflict.The more controversial the topic, the more relevant a discussion would be to the real lives of students.

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