I have an art history exam coming up on Feb 3rd. The exam is only 20 minutes and oral, but you still need to know your stuff.
My desk is covered in notes and books, and will be for the next few weeks. It can be a bit tiring to read all the books and commentaries on artists, but you also learn a lot of significant things. I need to study 8 topics, I have 5 down, 3 to go. So far I’ve learned about Diego Velazquez, John SInger-Sargent, Jeff Wall, Marcel Duchamp and Frank O’ Gehry. I realize just how talented, hard-working and prolific some artists were while others were lost in philosophy and thought, to the point of producing very little work. I also see how much art has changed over the centuries, showing the change of culture, thought and values that go with it. Modern art was a reaction to the new theory of relativity and new technology (automobiles, cameras). One was fascinated by new technology but also felt that art no longer should imitate nature. (cameras could document reality in a “neutral” way now. Painting was emotional, subjective, no longer “authentic”) Instead, art split into countless groups, all trying to make sense of a senseless world. Some worshiped rational thought, while others idealized the subconcious. In either case, it was a reaction to reality.
So my lesson from that: Art should be “real”. I don’t want to be pretentious, nor pretend to be unpretentious. Knowing where art came from gives you an idea where art could be going.