Believing Is Seeing: Creating the Culture of Art, written by Mary Anne Staniszewski, is a supplemental book to the canonical texts used with a standard, college level, art and humanities course (Staniszewski, 1995, p. ix). It is a supplemental book which many prospective art teachers will encounter. Staniszewski defines art differently from the traditional viewpoint. She takes the position, for art to be art, art must be created for its own sake; the artist must have complete control over the creation of the work, of art, being created (Staniszewski, 1995, p. 43). Art is not art if it is created as part of a larger cultural experience. Art is created to be seen in museums, galleries and collections. Art is a creation of the modern era; it has only existed for the last two hundred years (Staniszewski, 1995, p. 28).
Staniszewski's contention is that when art is created, it must have no intrinsic value of its own. True art acquires value only when it enters the institutions of the art world (Staniszewski, 1995, p. 28): the museums, galleries, collectors, art historians, and art publications. The institutions of the art world give a piece of art work its depth of meaning and monetary value. Objects which are created with the purpose of fulfilling a need by society, or a patron, Staniszewski does not consider to be art. This definition eliminates, as art, the works of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, the pyramids, oriental tapestry, any religious artifact or useful object from ancient cultures; it is also contrary to the prevailing historical concept of art as objects viewed with aesthetic pleasure.
Staniszewski's definition of art, which eliminates most historical works of art as art, requires readers to reevaluate how they view and judge what is an art object. The prospective art teacher will find Staniszewski's viewpoint does not align with the current theories on teaching art.
The Getty Trust, through its In...