Sunday, October 10, 2010

Special Forces: Is Specialization Killing Art Today?

The 18th century French Neoclassical painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres played the violin well enough to hold his own with “Sold His Soul to the Devil” good musicians such as Niccolò Paganini and Franz Liszt. Ingres took that intimate knowledge of music to add a different kind of beauty to works such as The Turkish Bath (from 1862; shown above). That little piece of trivia came to mind as I read an interview with The Moderna Museet’s new director, Daniel Birnbaum, in the October 2010 issue of The Art Newspaper. “Specialization is a problem of our time,” Birnbaum complained in response to a question regarding his interest in literature and philosophy as well as art. “There are many artists who work in different fields. A big museum such as the Moderna can tear down the walls between art and literature, for example, and I want to try such things.” What is the cost of specialization today, when art schools prepare artists who may know the techniques of their discipline but little else? How do we get back to the “good old days” of Ingres? Have artists today sold their souls to art schools at the risk of never being “true” artists? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Special Forces."


Unknown said...

i love this piece, remember studying it in my art class.

Dylan Vest said...

I tend to agree about specialization. I don't know if it does damage to the art field on a "macro" scale, but it certainly hurts me as an artist. I try to constantly combat this force by using different media and lots of different influences to create.