Training as an artist: teaching art?


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In order to understand the artists' situation on the art and thus labor market, one has to recognize how the training takes place at art academies - for example at the Düsseldorf Art Academy.

Training as an artist: teaching art? art


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Anke Ernst anke-ernst_index-magazin_dusseldorfAnke Ernst is the editor-in-chief of the art magazine INDEX in Düsseldorf and a freelance journalist for travel, art and culture.

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Training in theory

How is the training at the Düsseldorf Art Academy today? What it should look like in principle is enshrined in the Art College Act § 50 Paragraph 6: “The art college advises its students as well as prospective students in all questions of study and works towards a suitable individual study planning; this is in particular the task of Professorinside and Professoren. ”

Ultimately, the education of an art student stands and falls with his Professor - a system for which the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf is internationally known. And no one teaches here, but teach internationally recognized artists, each of which represents a different teaching concept.

Big names - good teaching?

The Academy may be adorned with big names, including newcomers Andreas Gursky, Katharina Fritsch, Katharina Grosse, Tomma Abts, Marcel Odenbach, Johannes Schütz and Eberhard Havekost, who have been appointed by Tony Cragg's 2010. She has looked back on a long line of directors since her founding in 1773. Each of them, from Wilhelm Lambert Krahe (1773 - 1789) to Tony Cragg (2009 - 2013), has shaped them in his own way.

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From the beginning, the latter only wanted to hold the position for a term of office, there were no other applicants and therefore the American sculptor and installation artist Rita McBride has been adorned with the honorary salutation "Magnificence" since August 1 - so it determines the basic order of the Academy.

What do students learn?

The only question is - does a big name automatically stand for a good education? Indisputable teach at the academy Professorwho stand up for their students and help them to pursue their own artistic career. The students appreciate this and are correspondingly positive: “At mine ProfessorI thought it was good that they gave me the opportunity to develop artistically freely and to do my art without being given any guidelines or standards. ”

You will also learn “how to show position and how to represent it properly”. However, the mechanisms of the art market are anything but fair, so that artistic success is often not necessarily synonymous with quality. And a great artist doesn't have to be a great teacher. When in doubt, he is not even physically present.

Professorwho are never there

That students have to build their theses a second time months later, so that you Professor it is not uncommon to examine them. And what influence does a teacher paid by the state, incidentally, pay if he is not there? Probably not, because you have to look at fine art, as you know.

As Joseph Beuys 1972 by the then Minister of Science Johannes Rau from his position as Professor The art academy was dismissed, which was the culmination of a long series of fundamental debates on this artistically and politically relevant topic. Convinced that everyone is an artist, because everyone is capable of spirituality, openness, creativity and imagination, Beuys developed his “expanded concept of art”, according to which the artwork as “social sculpture” affects all areas of life. The concept of art must therefore be made as large as possible "so that it can encompass every human activity" as long as man takes responsibility for it.

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Can people be taught art?

This novel perspective led to Beuys taking students who had been rejected by the academy into his class - which eventually included up to 400 students. Beuys' release was not long in coming. Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts Eduard Trier (1965 - 1972), who had been appointed for life, announced that Norbert Kricke (1972 - 1981) took over and became Beuys' antagonist as someone who valued the artistic aptitude and training of the students.

Markus Lüpertz, director at the academy from 1988 to 2009, certainly sees it quite differently. He is of the opinion that only a microcosm has to be created at the university, which gives art space to flourish. When asked whether art could be taught to man, he answered no. Art cannot be taught, but it can bring the atmosphere and aesthetics that surround it closer. He later added: "I am the master and art knows no democracy!"

Teaching the craft

So much for subjectivity in relation to the definition of art. Hans Schippert, Rector at the Academy from 1959 to 1965, was also of the opinion that art could not be taught. Tony Cragg emphasizes the advantages of this system in the catalog for the sculptor exhibition in the K20: "The now almost self-evident term of artistic freedom, which is held up in Düsseldorf, has led to a great diversity of content and form instead of an academization of art."

But what can be taught indisputably is the craft. Nor can a musician simply improvise or consciously break the musical rules without knowing them. Paragraph 1 of Section 50 of the Art School Act therefore requires, among other things, the university to guarantee the student “preparation for artistic and art education professions”. In this context, “guarantee” is formulated very vaguely.

Was everything better before?

The offer is undoubtedly at the Dusseldorf Academy, only it is, unlike in their past, no obligation. When Wilhelm von Schadow 1826 from Berlin was called to the academy as rector, he had already thought about the painter's consistent training: he built on methodical art didactics and introduced a three-class system inspired by Peter von Cornelius (1819 - 1824).

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From 1831 the students went through these three stages, and while the influence of the teacher waned more and more, the individuality of his students came to the fore: “Education begins with elementary tuition, continues in the class that turns the student into independent compositions prepares, and closes with the advice and warnings that the teacher, from his experience, can still forgive to those youngsters who have reached the point where their own free composing begins. ”

The need to learn the craft was out of the question

For example, the students first learned to copy paintings and to understand and depict objects and people; they were also trained in "auxiliary sciences" such as anatomy, architecture and perspective. Then, in the third step, they were allowed to create their own compositions. This groundbreaking method ensured that the Düsseldorf painting school and thus also the art academy achieved international renown.

Well, at the time, Düsseldorf was the Lower Rhine province and belonged to the 25.000 inhabitants. In contrast to today, however, the original understanding of authenticity lay in the motif and not in the unicum. The mastery of technology was therefore extremely important, as artists also deserved to copy works of art. If the students wanted to rebel, they refused to paint sacred works; it shows, for example, Johann Peter Hasen-Clevers' studio scene of 1836. The need for training itself was out of the question.


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