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Talking Art By Gary Alan Fine

Talking Art

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Gary Fine opens up the contemporary art practice MFA and finds that it's mostly about theorizing and arguing about art, and very little about actually making it.

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Talking Art Summary

Talking Art: The Culture of Practice and the Practice of Culture in Mfa Education by Gary Alan Fine

The idea of a graduate art program likely conjures up images of young artists in lofty studios, learning advanced techniques and honing the physical practice of their creativity. In truth, however, today's MFA culture is centered almost entirely around discussing art rather than actually making it. In Talking Art, ethnographer Gary Alan Fine gives us an eye-opening look at the culture and practices of the contemporary university-based master's level art program. Central to this culture is the act of the critique, an often harrowing process-depicted here in dramatic and illuminating detail-where artists in training must defend their work before classmates and instructors. Through analysis of the practice of the critique and other aspects of the curriculum, Fine reveals how art schools have changed the very conception of the artist: no longer a misunderstood loner toiling away in a garret, now an artist is closer to being an articulate tour guide through the maze of contemporary art rhetoric. More importantly, he tells us, MFA programs have shifted the goal of creating art away from beauty and toward theory. Contemporary visual art, Fine argues, is no longer a calling or a passion-it's a discipline, with an academic culture that requires its practitioners to be verbally skilled in the presentation of their intentions. Talking Art offers a remarkable and disconcerting view into the crucial role that universities play in creating that culture.

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Talking Art Reviews

"Fine once again works his ethnographic magic by taking something that may otherwise be overlooked as everyday or simple--in this case, the critique. . . . Talking Art offers interesting insight into the tensions that derive from the ongoing development and maturation of the art world. It serves as a reminder that disciplines are also group cultures, with both localized and shared traits, and which are always shifting shapes in accordance with broader societal changes."-- "Symbolic Interaction"
"Fine, a seasoned veteran of ethnography, has written a number of seminal and inspiring works over his distinguished career. Talking Art strikes me as the crown jewel of the corpus: a complex, multisited ethnography, rich with in-depth interviews and detailed field observations. Fine has produced a work of scholarly importance, which overturns romantic notions of the sui generis genius working in isolation. This book demonstrates the power of a veteran eye for interactionist approaches to everyday life, coupled with prose that is simultaneously probing and filled with a sense of curiosity."-- "Black Hawk Hancock, author of American Allegory"
"The MFA in visual art is one of the least defined degrees in the university and the art critique the least conceptualized form of assessment. Yet the MFA is encircled by an enormous literature--in art history, art education, assessment, administration, and criticism. Talking Art adds a very welcome new voice. This ethnographic study of four MFA students uses Fine's extensive field notes and photographs to explore the nature, content, and purpose of the contemporary MFA in North America."-- "James Elkins, author of Art Critiques: A Guide"
"This brilliant book takes us behind the scenes to explore how today's artists are trained. The art world, as Fine shows, is now an occupational and academic community, and his ethnography illuminates that in fascinating detail. Talking Art should be indispensable reading for anyone who enjoys viewing art or intends to become an artist."-- "David Halle, author of New York's New Edge"
"Valuable for its description of how the art world and the university have grown entangled. . . . Talking Art offers us an ethnography of visual-arts education: a dispatch from MFA island. Art school, Fine finds, is a subculture, with an austere patois and peculiar rites of praise and humiliation."-- "Chronicle of Higher Education"

About Gary Alan Fine

Gary Alan Fineis the James E. Johnson Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University.

Additional information

Talking Art: The Culture of Practice and the Practice of Culture in Mfa Education by Gary Alan Fine
Gary Alan Fine
Used - Like New
The University of Chicago Press
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
The book has been read, but looks new. The book cover has no visible wear, and the dust jacket is included if applicable. No missing or damaged pages, no tears, possible very minimal creasing, no underlining or highlighting of text, and no writing in the margins.