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Fogg Director Answers Editorials on Suggested Revision in Fine Arts Work

Forbes Defends Official Position and Comments on Suggestions Offered in Editorial


[Edward W. Forbes '95, director of Fogg Museum, has sent a letter to the CRIMSON commenting on the series of editorials which has just been concluded and which discussed various possibilities of changing the work of Fogg to be of more comments on the various suggestions in benefit to undergraduates. Mr. Forbes his letter and gives the official attitude toward them.]

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

I have read with interest your four editorials on the Division of Fine Arts. It seems to me that the members of the Division of Fine Arts should be grateful to you for the interest you have taken and the frankness of your criticism. Such suggestions as you make are helpful and valuable and may result at some future time in improving what the Division has to offer. However, I hope you will allow me to make use of your space to disagree with certain statements which are made, in the hopes that by discussing the problems from both sides a clearer understanding of the exact facts may be reached.

Defends Handbook

You begin by quoting a passage from the Fogg Museum Handbook, which refers to the advanced graduate course designed for people who are training to be professional directors and curators of museums. The Fogg Museum Handbook is not primarily a statement of the aims and purposes of the Division of Fine Arts in the instruction given to undergraduates, and yet you criticize us for making no mention of the needs of the undergraduates. If you will turn to the List of Courses of Instruction you will find the answer to that question. In that you will see that there are a large number of courses beginning with the well-known 1a, 1c, 1d and continuing through many other courses which are designed primarily to do the thing which you intimate is not done; namely, to give the average undergraduates an opportunity to "round out their cultural education"; and later in the article you admit that the "Fine Arts authorities realize this final purpose. There are excellent courses in the Appreciation of Art and the History of Art, the Philosophy of Art and the Technical Methods of Art."


In your fourth article you speak of the opportunities at Cranbrook near Detroit to watch a celebrated sculptor work. Last year the students had an opportunity to watch Mr. Lewis Rubenstein, a young artist who is a recent graduate of Harvard, paint a fresco on the wall of a corridor in the Fogg Museum in the old Italian technique, and it is hoped that it will be possible to give students more such opportunities in the future than they have had in the past.

Courses of Practical Value

You make this statement a little farther on:--"At present the Fine Arts Department offers only one course--Fine Arts 1a--which is of any practical value to the artist." If you look down the List of Courses a little more carefully you will see several others such as 2a, 2c, 2d, 2e and others which are of practical value to the artist.

General Courses

Coming to your constructive suggestions you suggest not only having the general cultural courses which we have, and the courses which are of value to the artist which we have, but having a general course which will take the place of four courses which are given new, and which will cover the whole field of art. The field of art is so immense that the professors in those four courses find it very hard to cover their respective fields in the amount of time they have; and to give in one course even a bird's eye view of the whole field of art, including history, philosophy, appreciation, and practise would be clearly impossible.

For Collectors

Finally you make another suggestion that it would be a good plan to have an elementary course for collectors, and say that it is a mistake to have the only course for museum workers and collectors an advanced professional course. Whereas it might be possible to have a middle group course given which would deal to some extent with the problems of collecting, yet the members of the Division do not think it would be wise to undertake to give an elementary course for the benefit of collectors to freshmen and sophomores who may know nothing whatever about the subject. They should take some of the other courses first.

The Division is quite willing to admit that improvements are possible and is striving constantly to carry them into effect.

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