Tuesday, November 1, 2016

In Defense of Art History

From i-D:
The idea that the arts aren't vocational, or that they don't nurture employable skills, is a hangover from a very different economic era, one still peddled by a generation whose vision of the creative industries is a hemp-clad aristotwat explaining why the triangle he sketched on some loo roll is a master class in conceptual art. The Creative Industries Federation released a paper last week demonstrating just how erroneous that idea is: the creative industries are worth well in excess of £85bn per annum to the UK economy, and employ 1 in 11 of all working people. Since the 2008 crash, it has been the fastest growing sector of the British economy. The critical and creative faculties that art, design, graphics and - yes, even art history - develop are of profound importance to our prosperity.

Yet the very idea of employability as the sole end of knowledge - particularly for 16 and 17 year olds who might not yet have had their curiosity extinguished by the drudgery of endless examination - should be as unsettling as it is bleak. Any defence of art on the basis of its instrumental value - that is, what it can achieve beyond itself - is starkly incomplete, and entirely alien to what art is as an experience. You don't go to a conference on accounting to hope to discover something fundamental to your experience of the world, just as you don't go to the Tate to pick up tips on how to sleaze your way to your first million. (Read more.)

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