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CAA News Today

News from the Art and Academic Worlds

posted by Christopher Howard — Jun 11, 2014

Each week CAA News publishes summaries of eight articles, published around the web, that CAA members may find interesting and useful in their professional and creative lives.

Ten of the Most Influential MFA Programs in the World

Artspace Magazine has tallied up the top ten master of fine arts programs in the world. While they may not be the cheapest avenues into the art world, these are, without a doubt, the top-ranked MFA programs for art students looking to add a gold star to the top of their CVs—and to build a ladder into the gallery sphere. Of course, there’s no “silver bullet” for instant postgraduate success. But there are certain programs that tend to spark the interest of curators, critics, and collectors alike. (Read more from Artspace Magazine.)

A Community of Artists: Radical Pedagogy at CalArts, 1969–72

A painter, a composer, a drama scholar, two directors, and two radical social scientists sat down at a table in 1969 to plot the future of the California Institute of the Arts. These were CalArts’ first administrators, and the challenge before them—and before the faculty they’d recruited for each of their departments or “schools” of art, film, theater/dance, music, design, and critical studies—was to actualize Walt Disney’s vision of bringing all of the arts together in one institution of higher learning, resulting in “a kind of cross-pollination that [would] bring out the best in its students.” (Read more from East of Borneo.)

Five-Year Plan

Criticizing humanities doctoral programs is easy. They take too long, they continue to emphasize training for tenure-track faculty positions in an era when such positions are scarce, they encourage the book model of dissertation at a time when books are hard to publish, even full funding isn’t always “full”—the list goes on. Solving the PhD predicament is much harder, but that’s what the Modern Language Association is attempting to do, or at least start to do, in a new report. (Read more from Inside Higher Ed.)

Are Lectures on the Way Out? Harvard Professor Proposes a Better Way to Teach

A teacher standing lecturing before a group of students is a form of human interaction that stretches back at least a millennium and a half. The roles are clear: the teacher with the knowledge tells the students who lack it everything they need to know. The teacher projects, the students absorb. The teacher speaks, the students listen. But just because it’s been that way for a long time doesn’t mean it’s the best way to teach. (Read more from Radio Boston.)

The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom

A colleague of mine in the Department of Computer Science at Dartmouth College recently sent an email to all of us on the faculty. The subject line read: “Ban computers in the classroom?” The note that followed was one sentence long: “I finally saw the light today and propose we ban the use of laptops in class.” While the sentiment in my colleague’s email was familiar, the source was surprising: it came from someone teaching a programming class, where computers are absolutely integral to learning and teaching. Surprise turned to something approaching shock when, in successive emails, I saw that his opinion was shared by many others in the department. (Read more from the New Yorker.)

New Legislation Would Protect Art Authenticators against “Nuisance” Lawsuits

Following decisions by the Keith Haring Foundation, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the estates of Pablo Picasso and Jean-Michel Basquiat to disband their authentication boards, the New York State legislature has introduced a bill to make lawsuits against art authenticators more difficult to win and to punish “nuisance” lawsuits. (Read more from Gallerist.)

The Case for Old-Fashioned Connoisseurship

Suddenly, connoisseurship seems to matter again. It always mattered to me personally, as someone who earns a living sniffing out misattributed pictures. But now interest is growing on a wider level and, amazingly, even among academic art historians. I’m asked to speak about it often, most recently at a conference at the Paul Mellon Centre in London. The pendulum is at last swinging away from the “authorship doesn’t matter” brigade. (Read more from the Art Newspaper.)

We Don’t Need the “New” Connoisseurs

There has lately been some dark talk in certain corners of the British art world about a crisis in connoisseurship and the need to revive traditional scholarship. The debate at the Paul Mellon Centre last month was, I imagine, intended to expose such murmurings to greater scrutiny and test their merits and demerits in a reasoned and open way. (Read more from the Art Newspaper.)

Why Connoisseurship Matters

I recently went to speak at a Paul Mellon Centre conference on connoisseurship, called “Connoisseurship Now.” I was asked to be polemical—not usually a problem for me—and was paired in a session with Tate Britain’s lead curator for British art pre-1800, Martin Myrone, which was good fun, as I like him, and he’s decidedly skeptical about the point of connoisseurship, and even more so about those who practice it. (Read more from Art History News.)

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