Thanks for that. I didn’t want to know it obviously. I still suspect that it is a tilted re-telling for the sake of a good paper. It has been repeated so often that no one can see it any more. Besides academics love to stir shit up.
Of all the areas of academic study the arts are more prone to this than others because of the subjective nature of the judgement involved. Over and over I have seen artists hard work used by historians and critics to prop up their over-excited re-tellings of what happened. I know artists, even some who were already famous in the 20th century! I have opinions based on my interactions with them and my own feelings about how I have been treated. Most of the reading I did in school was texts by artists and compared to texts by critics and historians they proved invaluable in developing a real appreciation for what artists do. I also have my biases against work that is overtly political and uses issues to build credibility. Artists are egotistical animals and are more about career and advancement than saving the world. I also think the Clash was full of shit, for example.
You know, obviously this is my axe to grind and I will keep talking about it here because I see a lot of faith in academic principles around here that work well in other areas of endeavor but ultimately do not serve art or most of the humanities. Historians of art fall back on putting art in context because there just isn’t much to say about art, otherwise. This is something good artists understand and so keep the historical narrative at arms distance. Of course there is a huge class, now, of artists who swallowed the whole thing without blinking and go through life treating art like any other academic discipline. There used to be a different path for artists through the university. It has faded and been replaced by an academic model that has not served art very well and may well fade away as time marches on. I think artists will move away from the academy once again as the full effects are noticed. As it is we have a huge split in the art world among academic, commercial (fine art) and grant based art. I look forward to watching the split progress. I love change.
Your response lacks a charitable spirit. I am not an academic, but I am an artist. An artist has to make up one’s mind about these things for oneself. Academic truth is valueless to me. As I said, it is always filtered through an agenda that makes the artists beliefs, intentions and even accomplishments against ridiculous odds into details in a story about something else. This leads to cherry picking, distortion and out right fabrication. How do you decide when you have enough information to say you have a clear picture of what really happened? I suspect you are just as skeptical when someone from outside your field offers opinions about the motives and success or failure there.
I had a wise professor who loved to start his first class by reading the dictionary definition of “sculpture.” He would read it out loud to the class and let them discuss it for a few minutes and then he would say.“I know this definition is wrong because I know this field. What this makes me wonder is how seriously I should take anything else in this book.”
That is how I feel about art history.