As some of you already know, last week I tried to get my art students interested in art history by showing them two works:
Jan Davidsz de Heem, Vase of Flowers, (1660)
Heikki Marila: Kukat XIX, (2009)
Comparing these two paintings worked really well as an opening into the field of art history. The students had lots of interesting thoughts about the works, and I think seeing both versions made the history come alive in a new way. First year students worried a lot about tho copy-part of it, believing art should be genuine and original, and not some kind of imitation. For the second year this was no problem at all. They have already learnt the lesson: it’s all about being the best thief.
We also discussed which of them would be the most difficult to make, without coming to a agreed conclusion, which is good.
But maybe the most interesting discussion we had – had to do with the concept of beauty: which role does beauty play in contemporary art? From the avant-garde to the conceptual era, anti-aesthetic strategies have resisted beauty because of its perceived complicity with dominant systems and ideologies. Today the situation seems to be opening up. But what is beauty today?
It sure seems we have stuff enough for our coming sessions. I must admit, I really enjoyed our first meeting, hopefully my students did too!