NY Art Commentary

Art Curriculum for the End of a Millennium


By DON GRAY

Art Curriculum for the End of a Millennium (1995)

Course offerings developed in cooperation with artists, educators, critics, galleries and museums throughout the nation. Our thanks for their sage counsel and advice.

Don Gray Portrait
© Don Gray
Self-Portrait with Cezanne and Van Gogh

Pap I: In a society immeshed in pap, immersed in pap, saturated by pap and enveloped by pap, learn how to survive and prosper in a world of pap. Learn to think pap, produce pap and sell pap of your own. You have a constitutional right to profit from pap. Learn how.

Schmoozing I and II: The real truth of how to succeed in art has nothing to do with talent, originality or creativity. Suck up. Kiss up. Butter up gallery directors, curators, critics and collectors. Learn to speak their language. Talk dollars and saleable formulas, not serious aesthetics or human meaning. Display an eagerness to aspire to the heights of bad taste they have already achieved. Successful schmoozing of your professor will result in an "A."


Arrogance I: Come to fully believe that whatever you touch, do or think - no matter how perniciously meaningless - is blessed by divinity.

Figure Drawing I and II: Figure Painting I and II: Dropped from the curriculum. No longer deemed important for the development of artists and their understanding of art. Replaced by Cleverness I and Artifice II; Dribbling I and Splatting II.


Cleverness I: Prerequisite Arrogance I: Develop the ability to overcome any natural tendency toward genuine artistic expression or thought.

Artifice II: Prerequisite Cleverness I: Insure success with interior decorator abstraction, swishy abstract Indians on horseback, minutely detailed cowboys and mechanical photo-realism, pretty California Impressionist techniques and the latest pseudo-avant-garde infestations, whether abstract, realistic or conceptual.


Dribbling I: The first important step toward meaningless noodlings with a variety of media.

Splatting II: Prerequisite Dribbling I: Pseudo-expressive bravado is the goal. Splatting II will create in the student the illusion of creative power and profundity. Heavier, thicker globs of paint and many other exciting materials (see Materials I and II) will be flung, dashed, rubbed, smashed (and, of course, splatted) into and onto a variety of surfaces. Minimum size: 20 x 20 feet.


Size I: May be taken concurrently with Splatting II. Size creates an illusion of quality, emotional impact, masculinity or heroic feminism. Learn to create suitable masking devices for any deficiencies of talent, character or self-esteem.

Materials I and II: Any and all materials are preferred over traditional paints, brushes, pastels, paper and canvas unless used perversely, bizarrely or artificially. In order to extend the "parameters" of creativity, the creative "window of opportunity" (to coin original jargon), to avoid "downsizing" one's creative options (to coin more), materials like broken glass, blood, cigarette butts, sputum, mud, used motor oil, pesticides, etc, etc, are mandatory.


The Illusion of Illusion I: All contemporary attempts at three-dimensionality will be likened to sin against the mother of God. Young artists must immediately be inducted into the "cult of flatness," the "divinity of the picture plane." Professors will keep a sharp lookout for any signs of three-dimensionality. Incorrigible students must be dismissed at once or transferred post-haste to Inquisition I, lest they contaminate their more malleable fellows.

Inquisition I: An affirmative action, remedial education course designed to assist those whose family background, genes and/or character have instilled in them integrity, ethics, clear thinking and emotional depth. Such deprived students are not viewed as crippled, but morally "disadvantaged" or "challenged." Given their distorted history of honesty, conscience, honor and family support of ethical values, these social unfortunates and misfits will be "trained" using the mind-bending techniques of advertising, political doublespeak and boot-camp indoctrination to straighten them out.


Chainsaw Massacre I: Conventional sculpture materials are passe. Any other way of tormenting materials is encouraged. Brutality equates with creative strength and purpose, therefore the use of chainsaws, pile-drivers, head-on collisions, earthquakes, volcanoes and other powerfully symbolic, natural and man-made objects and events - the more catastrophic the better - shall be used to create virile works enhancing chances of future financial success.

Interview Skills I: Like "student" athletes preparing for the continuation of their professional careers, young artists learn basic interview techniques for the time they become art stars. "Well, Bud, I dribbled the length of the canvas, reversed my field, avoiding any significance, and scored the game-winning clich."


Revisionist Art History I and II: All pre-20th Century art is either debunked or reconstructed to a politically-correct interpretation for the sole purpose of justifying contemporary art as the highest possible culmination of millennia of human cultural endeavor. Learn to rewrite history to make yourself feel good and justify any artistic aberration. Create a pedigree for your crap.

Cliches I and II: An important course extending over two semesters to insure that students lose any creativity, individuality or imagination, replacing these anachronisms with the fashionable stereotypes of the day.


Illustration I: Realize that a mindless accumulation of surface illustrational detail disguises, for the inexperienced, the absence of a convincing core of dense, fine art form. This course is absolutely fundamental to success in the southwestern art world. Apprenticeships in eastern advertising agencies are available. Suggestions on becoming an instant westerner and how to dress like a cowboy are included.

Commercial Art II: Develop and enhance the superficial techniques and tricks explored in Illustration I. The debauched ethical and artistic standards of the day insure the success of commercial artists posing as fine artists.


Factory Art I: Learn the attitudes and skills necessary to the production of assembly-line interior decorator art. Learn to minimize your creativity, imagination and sense of self. Repress painful feelings of indignation and outrage, as you become a successful robot component in the assembly-line manufacture of the most outrageously gooey cliches and sickeningly sweety-sweet stereotypes.

Body Art I: Use your own body to create magnificent art. Learn from the great masters of the relatively recent past who created art by defecating in tin cans, having themselves shot, and spraying themselves with gold paint. Paint yourself blue. Live a little. Your own body is a sculpture, replacing out-of-date materials like marble. Learn from sensitive, caring instructors who will free and develop your creativity.


Cloning I: Be as robotic in the thoughts you think and the art you create as those who taught you. Remember, it is your responsibility to pass on this characteristic to your contemporaries and succeeding generations.

Impermanence and Nihilism I: Instills the idea that life and art are meaningless, passing things, equivalent to our throw-away society's disposable products and unwanted, disposable human beings. Belief in a materialistic "grab what you can grab while you can grab it" philosophy is encouraged. In a society pathologically pursuing immediate gratification with no regard for the past or future, there is no other meaning in life and art than the instant satisfaction of every transient whim, lust and greed.


Portrait Don Gray

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