Page 16 - Studio International - November 1968
P. 16

As with everything American, it is difficult  sag such incidents may seem extreme, but
                                              to generalize, yet inevitable. The country is a  they do reflect a conservatism and con-
                                               continent, full of differences and extremes,  formity so evident in America.
                                               and without a national structure of education   Of course, the great problem is finance, as
                                               as we know it in Britain.               art schools are not financed by the Federal
                                                There are art schools, art institutes, art  Government. Many schools are finding it
                                               departments in universities and state col-  difficult to survive; some are closing. Art
                                               leges, museum schools—all with different  schools depend on endowments and other
                                              structures, finance, entrance requirements,  gifts along with fees from students, so that
                                               courses and standards. Through personal  quantity becomes more important than
     Up theAmerican                            experience in teaching, and visits to over  quality.
                                               forty art institutions throughout America,
                                                                                        The Art department of the university has to
     vanishing point                          during the last year, it was this variation that  conform to the narrow confines of the
                                               was most obvious and confusing. Within  academic system, concerned with credits,
                                               these seemingly endless variations was one  grades, production and achievement; a
                                               similarity, the emphasis on the academic  system not sympathetic to true education,
                                               study of art, with every institution continuing  particularly within the visual arts. Faced
      Roy Slade
                                               to teach anatomy, perspective, watercolour,  with this situation many departments appoint
                                               oils, modelling, sketching, life drawing and  art historians to give the subject
                                              all such subjects, all taught separately, and,  respecta-bility and concern themselves with
                                               unfortunately, usually within the narrow  out-dated subject matter and restrictive teaching.
                                              confines and traditions of yesterday.    All this seems to satisfy the university
                                                Such study means that there is a real dis-  authorities, who always think of art first
                                              crepancy between the studio of the school  when it comes to financial cut-back. As one
                                              and the studio of the artists, between the  chairman of a mid-West university art
                                              work being done in the school and the art  department commented, 'art patronage goes
                                              being exhibited in the galleries and museums.  to museums concerned with investment in
                                              American art needs no introduction to the  objects, rather than in schools and people,
                                               British public, who are fully aware, through   because people can talk back'.
                                              exhibitions and magazines, of current trends,   The structure, appointment and salary of
                                              often before the Americans themselves. The  faculty is very different from Britain. Posts
                                              work of the schools comes as a great sur-  are not advertised, as the country is too
                                               prise, however, and reveals virtually un-  large, and there is no national press. Appli-
                                               known aspects of America.               cants write not for a particular post, but for
                                                One subject is of particular fascination : the  any job. Contracts can be by the semester or
                                               drawing of the figure. The emphasis on this  year, and come up for annual review. Re-
                                               becomes paranoic and pathetic, for there is  newal of contract can depend on many
                                               no real tradition of life painting as we  factors : number of students, satisfaction of
                                               know it in Europe. There seems to be a  students and authorities, or the whim of the
                                               determination to compensate for this, so  Dean. At a university art department it is
                                              that there is 'overkill' of the figure. The most   possible to get tenure, after some years at the
                                               absurd fact is that, in the Southern States,  department, if elected and ratified by one's
                                               by State law, the model is not allowed to be  colleagues. In such an archaic system there
                                               nude. She wears a bathing suit or leotards,  must be sympathy for the faculty members,
                                              yet the students have to draw her as though  who have to be careful and abide by the
                                               she were nude. One daring lecturer in  system. Little wonder that open argument
                                               Alabama did get a male and female model,- and creative experimentation are difficult if
                                               both nude, in the same studio, but there was  not dangerous.
                                               objection to this, even though the models   The salary of each faculty member is
                                               were wax dummies. In Florida, a faculty  decided by the Dean, for there is no national
                                               member commented ruefully that all his  salary scale. The variation in salary is great,
                                               students drew the breasts pointing skywards,  not from one institution to the other, but
                                               not realizing that without the support of  within each department itself. Many salaries
                                               bikini or bra the body may have a natural  are low, particularly outside richer universi-

      Contributors to this issue              Roy Slade,  painter and senior lecturer in the Fine   Ian Dunlop is art critic of the Evening Standard.
                                              Art Department, Leeds College of Art, has recently
                                              returned from a year in America. He was awarded a   David Thompson, formerly art critic for The Times,
                                              Fulbright Travel Grant and was Professor in Painting   writes regularly for Queen and Studio International.
                                              at the Corcoran School of Art, Washington.
                                                                                       Gene Baro, a frequent contributor to Studio
                                              Jasia Reichardt is assistant director of the Institute   Inter-national,  also contributes to  Art International, The
                                              of Contemporary Arts and a regular contributor to   London Magazine and other periodicals, and is Lon-
                                              Studio International.                    don Correspondent of  Arts Magazine  and  Art in
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