This book was suggested by my high school teacher son while I was a professor of Art Appreciation and having a hard time defending that it is possible to determine quality in the arts. I had tried to read it in college but didn’t relate at that time.
The story of this novel is told by a father who goes with his son and a couple of friends on a motorcycle trip. Along with ruminations about the environment and mechanics and the nature of experience, the father pursues a philosophical investigation of what defines “good” writing. His contention is that the majority of people recognize quality when they see it, and so there must be some universal criteria being applied. Because all the arts can be confusing as we begin to consider genre, style, and content, this book was important in my understanding that there are comprehensive approaches to assessment in the arts.
I read this book as a graduate MFA student and it was instrumental in helping me understand the process of making art. I have recommended it to a lot of people in many disciplines over the years. I think my enthusiasm for it in an interview may have gotten me a teaching job one time.
Bayles and Orland are both practicing artists and studio college faculty and they have spent a career trying to understand why so few of their graduates continue to make art after they get their degrees. They discuss the “myths” about art and art-making that undermine artists as they strive to make work. I saw myself again and again as they described the pitfalls in this strange profession. It was very helpful to look at the myths that imposed from outside us and within that impact the way we think about and pursue art-making regardless of our medium.
Although this is a fairly accessible book about art theory intended for non-academics although the examples are all a decade old. I read it while I was in graduate school but I wonder now if it is too ambitious to be absorbed by people who have not had previous exposure to art history and contemporary theory. This book was really helpful to me as I tried to formulate an overview of art and how it is assessed.
This book is a compilation of notes and thoughts accumulated by American painter Robert Henri who died in 1929. He was a founder of the Ashcan School and an extremely influential teacher who is still influencing developing artists. His approach to painting has been an inspiration to generations of aspiring painters.