1 What kind of pictures do you have decorating your house or room? Who are your favourite artists? Why do you like their work?
2 Are there any members of the class who are artistically talented? Is there a great diversity of taste and talent within the class?
3 You are going to read a newspaper article on 'Artspeak'. What do you think this is?
4 Three paintings illustrate the article, which is on the next page. Exchange opinions on the paintings and try to give a title to each work.
Read the text quickly and answer the questions.
1. What is the aim of the course given by William Quinn?
2.What is your opinion of the course?
3.Wnat is your opinion of William Quinn?
4 What is the purpose of the text? Choose from the alternatives below, as many as you think appropriate.
- to criticize - to amuse - to make fun of
- to inform - to surprise - to mock
- to warn - to educate - to shock
- to cause discussion
The following four sentences have all been removed from the text. Read it again more carefully and decide where each sentence should go. Work in pairs.
a. 'You needn't waste a minute listening to tunes you don't instantly recognize,' it says.
b. If so, what do you say when you visit an art gallery?
c. In other words, places where the public can hear you.
d. 'One should speak of the boldness of the interpretation.'
Exposed! The fine art of Artspeak
Or the instant way to be a classic bluffer
ARE you one of those unfortunates who knows little about art and, worse still, hasn't the foggiest idea what you like or why you like it?
It's obvious. You look at the pictures and declare sagely:
That's very nice or
Yes, I like that, or
Mmm . . . interesting,
Well, sorry, that just isn't good enough.
In New York, discussions about art are the currency of social life. Just like in the Woody Allen films, your worth is measured by your Artspeak.
Which is why William Quinn, a young Irishman from County Mayo, is the new hero of the smart set.
He is running a £33 course on how to say intelligent things about works of art in public places. And people are queuing to join his remedial class in art bluffery.
Quinn – an increasingly well-known artist who paints giant versions of the computer bar codes on supermarket products – aims to reach the ‘basic but critical vocabulary’ of art.
‘People like to feel sophisticated’, he says. ‘But they can’t unless they know at least something about art.’
‘If they are at a dinner party and start talking about the Modigliani heads being inspired by the example of Brancusi, other people pay attention.’
As one student says: 'This course teaches you how to sound halfway intelligent about art when you're not.'
Indeed, after a few evenings on Quinn's course, you can be an 'expert' without even seeing works you discuss. And everyone defers to an 'expert'.
Just like Liberace - who once revealed that his gift was to play Tchaikovsky by leaving out the boring bits - Quinn's protégés go into New York's social whirl armed with just the interesting snippets they need.
For this is the age of art for survival, where people would rather die than have nothing to say about something, so A huge TV advertising campaign is running in America for a series of records of the most tuneful pieces of 100 classical music favourites.
Quinn gets very shirty at his students' go-for-it attitude to art consumption. Yet he agrees that his course title – called Meeting People at the Great Museums - does not sound, well enormously deep.
Meanwhile, over in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one student gazes lamely at Pierre Bonnard's The Terrace at Vernon and says: 'I like this one.' 'Insufficient', says Quinn. 'And if you're with a sophisticate, you should add: "The daily intimacies of family life add warmth to Bonnard's art.'
See, it’s easy when you get the hang of it!
(Daily Mai! 22 February 1987)
Which of the following statements are true or false, or don't you know?
1 It is important to be able to speak sensibly about art in New York.
2 William Quinn is one of New York's smart set.
3 William Quinn gives courses on art appreciation.
4 The courses are extremely popular.
5 They produce experts on art who everyone listens to.
6 After doing Quinn's course you can speak with seeming authority about paintings you have never seen.
7 There is a series of records of 100 complete classical music favourites.
8 Quinn gets annoyed by the course participants' superficial attitude to art.
WORK: Harlequin's Carnival
• Unintelligent comment: 'Is it the right way up?'
• Intelligent comment: 'Miro's work of this period is characterized by humour, a naive awkwardness and violent colours."
WORK: The White Bird
• Unintelligent comment: 'Interesting.'
• Intelligent comment: 'One cannot really know Constant without taking into account the profound nostalgia in his soul.'
• Unintelligent comment: 'That's a white wiggly line.'
• Intelligent comment: Its meticulous presentation and execution effects a distancing, a feeling of something beyond touch, not palpable.'