Rescuing Art from ‘Visual Culture Studies’

“A disturbing though little publicized movement is afoot in American education to transform the study of art into what is termed Visual Culture Studies. It seeks to broaden the proper sphere of art education–the visual arts–to include every kind of visible artifact. To quote the prospectus of a recently established academic program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

Anything visible is a potential object of study for Visual Culture, and the worthiness of any visual object or practice, as an object of study depends not on its inherent qualities, as in the work of art, but on its place within the context of the whole of culture.

In other words, one can henceforth treat the Nike of Samothrace and Michelangelo’s David, say, on a par with Mattel Toys’ Barbie and Ken dolls.” —Aristos