Abstract

From the earliest days of abstract and nonobjective art, there have been no widely accepted criteria by which to judge the value or significance of innovation. Only in the visual arts has radical experimentation become the mainstream of creative endeavor, a condition that makes the vocational education of visual artists problematic. The philosopher’s institutional theory stands to describe this condition, but, because it is not a generative theory, it provides no guidance to the aspiring artist or the art educator. The persistence of largely irrelevant “foundation studies” stands to illustrate the unresolved difficulties in tertiary art education. Against this background, I examine the claims of two influential art museum directors, one of whom seeks to justify the processes by which the modern artist rises to fame, while the other attributes progress in modern art to the achievements of individual artists who are exceptional in breaking the rules of the game of modern art as it played at any given time. I argue that the objectivity of these processes of discovery and critical acclaim in contemporary modern art is compromised to an extent that artworld functionaries do not themselves recognize.

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