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'' But it's universities that support artists.'' It was a shining afternoon, and the air was fragrant with the scent of eucalyptus trees. That figure does not include students of commercial art and design, who will receive another 500 M. There's no official tally of students enrolled in M. Does this mean that we're in the midst of a cultural flowering, a bright new renaissance? '' The art is either feminist or deconstructionist, and basically it looks like homework, because what is homework but learning how to follow the teacher's rules?
Stopping into the studio of Sandeep Mukherjee, an Indian student with an elegantly shaved head, I found him at work on an interesting drawing based on photographs. '' I don't want my name in your article,'' he said, explaining that he recently had a one-man show at the Steffany Martz Gallery, in Manhattan, and ''it would hurt my reputation if people knew I was a student.'' Someone else pointed out that you can't damage your reputation if you don't have one.
Delia Brown, who paints pictures of herself dressed in campy ancien regime costumes, giggled, and said on behalf of everyone, '' We each nurture the delusion that we'll be the one artist to make it.'' Are academies good or are academies bad?
One afternoon, eager to see what the hype was about, I drove out to Art Center College of Design.
Set in the hills of Pasadena, with a view of the Rose Bowl, it occupies a sleek, black-glass building that looks like an industrial laboratory. program in art, one that has nothing to do with cars.
'' The schools have taught a generation of artists how to make art without laboring in their studios. You just assemble found objects into an installation, say the word 'gender' and you're done.'' Like the creative writing programs that became ensconced in universities in the 70's and spawned a generation of ''workshop'' novelists, the fine-art schools have fostered their own conceptually driven style. This year, only 1 out of every 32 applicants was accepted, which makes U. By contrast, Harvard Business School accepts 1 out of every 10 applicants.'' We've never had so many applications,'' says Mary Kelly, a well-known feminist artist who is chairwoman of the art department at U. '' What students don't understand is that having an M. I figured my night at the Warner Building would be an occasion for long, impassioned conversations about developments in recent art.
Its invasion of the art world has been abetted by the commercial galleries, where an obsession with novelty and art-as-investment makes every recent graduate a potentially hot property. It didn't quite turn out that way, though I did hear about a Viennese dealer who had made the rounds that afternoon. '' I sold them all.'' In the hallway, I tried to engage a mustachioed student, but to little avail.
To call an artist ''academic'' was to insult his work, implying that it was unimaginative, rote, banal.
Virtually all the great modernists, from Cezanne on down, felt undisguised contempt for the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, the mighty Paris institution where students began by copying plaster casts, progressed to the life class to study the (male) nude and, with few exceptions, emerged as proficient, B-minus painters of scenes culled from history or mythology.
Conceptualism and minimalism raised brainy questions about art and visual perception, while students today favor art about nonart issues.
Blame Derrida and his fellow French theorists, whose invasion of academia fostered a fashion for deconstructing language in the 70's, patriarchy in the 80's and gender in the 90's.