Barry Schwabsky at The Nation:
For years I’ve been hearing it said that young artists think art began with Andy Warhol. It’s never been true. But now what I hear is art historians complaining that none of their students want to study anything but contemporary art. Among young art historians, it seems, to delve as far back as the 1960s is to be considered an antiquarian. “They only take my courses because they think they need some ‘background,’” one Renaissance specialist told me. “We have to accept almost anyone who applies saying that they want to study anything before the present, just to give our current faculty something to do.” What a time, when the art historians have less historical consciousness than the artists—and no wonder that the former, these days, show so little interest in what the latter actually do.
When I was a grad student (in a different field), the budding art historians I knew were studying medieval, they were studying mannerism, they were studying the Maya. No one thought of studying living artists. The most adventurous ones might be investigating Italian Futurism. Now the Futurists seem as distant as the Maya. But might this be their own fault?