Seven Days in the Art World-Chapter 2

I can’t tell whether it’s the institution or the students at CalArts that creates an air of pretentiousness. For instance, as read in Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World, the MFA critique class at CalArts is called “Post-Studio Art.” This is due to John Baldessari’s claim that “Post-Studio Art” is a larger enveloping term than “Conceptual Art.” My question is not whether or not “Post Studio” is a better term than “Conceptual Art,” but rather, why not call the class “Art Criticism” or something straight forward in the first place?

It is this overt need to over-complicate simplicity that I do not understand about these California artists that Thornton describes. Famous artists/professor Michael Archer runs a six hour class in which only three works by three student artists are looked at, yet the work is barely talked about—the conversation is very circular and does not really come to any definite conclusion—and Archer barely says a word, let alone make any remarks about the work. Then on top of all of that, the other students have their pets and are listening to music and are reading the paper and doing all sorts of other things unrelated to the class. Then on top of all of that, the class itself is considered some kind of minimalist workshop? How can the students or the professors be so full of themselves as to believe that that class is the end-all and be-all of criticism classes?

I found it very funny that many of the artists could not describe what an artist is, what art is, or what creativity means. The artists looked way too deep into the emotive meanings of the terms in question, causing a lapse in logical thinking. I suppose the CalArts people believe that logical thinking is the tool of consumerism, marketing, and corporations, so they naturally shun it. This also explains the statement that Thornton makes about how “most of the artists are openly hostile to commercial spectacle” (60) . I wonder, does CalArts have a design department? If they do, the designers are most certainly not the most loved people on campus.



  1. I graduated from the art department in 2000, looks as though nothing has changed. I walked out of a crit session once because we somehow got into an hour long discussion as to whether dogs have feelings or not. Yeah. I ended up socializing more with the design and animation students for a reason.

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