Fine Arts


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To the Editor of the CRIMSON:

The statement on Fine Arts as a field of concentration which appeared in the CRIMSON Tuesday morning was obviously written by someone with a very superficial acquaintance with the department, probably a concentrator of only a few months, or perhaps it was written merely from hearsay. The nature of the authorship is betrayed by misstatements concerning the nature of the work in the department which I hope you will permit me to correct in your columns.

First, the collateral reading of courses in Fine Arts deals with much more than "the history of the period". Besides reading on historical background, the concentrator in Fine Arts will find that he must study texts on the history of various forms and periods of art as well as critical works varying from Ruskin to Geoffrey Scott.

Second, objection is to be made to the statement that anyone who wishes to study the aesthetics of art should not concentrate in the department. If this were qualified to say those interested in the psychological or philosophical aspects of aesthetics primarily, it could stand. However, those interested in problems of representation and design, i.e., the aspect of aesthetics concerned primarily with the material of the Fine Arts, will find that under Professor Pope they can go as deeply into the aesthetics of art as they wish. One of the fields of concentration for Seniors in Fine Arts is entitled "Theory of Representation and Design".

Third, equally misleading is the statement that men interested in modern art should not concentrate in Fine Arts. It is true that no course in the department deals specifically with contemporary art. There are, however, courses which put a great deal of emphasis on the artistic movements of the XIX and XX centuries, which are, of course, the sources of our contemporary tendencies. Professor Sachs "French Painting" and Professor Post's "Modern Sculpture" do this. Next year, it is said, a course on modern architecture will be introduced. Further, tutorial work may be on modern art if the concentrator desires it. "Modern Art" is one of the fields for concentration for Seniors.

Fourth as for the student who wants to become an artist, he cannot expect at Harvard, or any other college, to be able to spend as much time in the studio as is possible in a purely "art school". However, the department does recognize the value of training in painting, drawing, and elementary architectural design. Courses in these subjects are counted for concentration.

Finally, your contributor might have mentioned that Fine Arts is the fortunate beneficiary of two professorships which bring foreign scholars to Harvard, the Charles Eliot Norton and the Kuno Francke. On alternate years the holders of these chairs are authorities on art. Hind, Goldschmidt, and Kohler are the distinguished teachers from abroad who have been at the Fogg Museum in the past three years. Next year we will have Lawrence Binyon of the British Museum. F. B. Deknatel.