Friday, January 7, 2011

A List of Theoretical Texts to Help Birds be Better Birds

That's what I thought of when I saw the title "A Reading List for Artists" by Rachel Cook in the latest ...might be good.
After finishing a semester of graduate school as a curatorial studies student at Bard College, I’ve realized that there should be a reading list for artists. As a former practicing artist myself with an art school BFA, I wish I had been given a better structural foundation of theoretical texts and art history methodology to complete the picture.
Her list includes some art criticism classics like "Sculpture in the Expanded Field" by Rosalind Krauss and The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture by Hal Foster. And let me say that reading these texts would be very helpful if you wanted to be able to "talk the talk" in 1985. I have my doubts about whether they ever helped anyone make better art, though. A reading list, full of heavy philosophy-influenced post-structural texts like this, seems like the last thing an artist should feel obliged to consume. As Barnett Newman (no intellectual lightweight) said, "Aesthetics is for artists what ornithology is for birds."

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