Earlier this week I had a conversation with an artist well established in his career. What he told me about going to art school in his era (which must have been the 60s or early 70s) took me for a surprise:
“So many of the guys were all revved about teaching. I couldn’t understand it because I couldn’t wait to get out and make art, but these guys told me it was all about making it with young girls. ‘Yeah, they look up to you and are so into you and every year there’s a new crop.’”
He told me it was common knowledge back then that part of the spiffs of teaching art was getting into the pants (or at least the gooning adoration) of students they had no intention of taking seriously as artists. If anything, the subtle (or maybe not so subtle) message was that the student was the object and the objects she made were beside the point.
This reminded me of Joanne Mattera’s recent post on institutionalized gender bias in the art world. I had a hard time letting go of this very candid revelation because it hit home in my own times at school. The fact is I definitely had teachers who had agendas (never plainly spoken) which made it all the easier to drop out, though I never thought of it at the time. If what this artist told me was a common back-story, no wonder my art history Prof, who I mentioned here before, had the easy gall to ask me to get naked when he took photographs back in 1976. It was probably not the first time he ventured the question and maybe he previously had fruitful results.