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“Good Artists Tend to Be Bad Students”

Peter Schjeldahl, New Yorker arts critic, on art and the classroom

Click above to watch an excerpt from a talk by Peter Schjeldahl on October 4.

When Peter Schjeldahl, senior art critic for the New Yorker, gave the first lecture in the College of Fine Arts School of Visual Arts 2007–2008 Contemporary Perspectives Lecture Series in October, he took his hosts — and the entire university system — to task for their dysfunctional relationship to the creation of art.

“Good artists tend to be bad students and vice versa,” Schjeldahl told the audience. “It’s like a professor sets up a ladder, and everyone competes to be first at the top.”

“My function,” he said, in describing his role as a lecturer, “is to show up once a week and throw red meat through the bars of their cage.”

Schjeldahl read excerpts from the introduction to his upcoming book Let’s See: Writings on Art from the New Yorker and discussed topics including his role models, his personal enthusiasms, artworks and exhibitions that have influenced him, the state of the current art world, and his strategies for critiquing art.

See Schjeldahl’s entire talk, given October 4, 2008, at the CFA Concert Hall, on BUniverse.

To learn more about the CFA School of Visual Arts 2007-2008 Contemporary Perspectives Lecture Series, click here.

Devin Hahn can be reached at dhahn@bu.edu.