PR, Films and Fantasies

“All art is quite useless!” (Oscar Wilde)  Can art teach us how to ‘manage’ better?

Posted on: February 28, 2012

It’s been a while since I posted something valuable here but my MA, my super-active social/cultural life in London and all the travelling kept me quite busy.

To carry on from where I stopped before the holidays, here is the actual essay I wrote on arts-based learning. Please feel free to click on the document to read the entire 4000 words 🙂

The first publication of Oscar Wilde’s controversial novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, in 1890, led to an avalanche of outraged criticism due to the interpretation of its content as immoral by various Victorian critics who believed that art’s role was to educate. As a reply to the public’s reaction, Wilde rewrote some of the passages as well as added more chapters to justify his characters’ actions and to simplify the moral and philosophical messages. However, devoted to the aesthetic school of thought and therefore believing in the intrinsic values and the beauty of “art for art’s sake”, he also added a preface to the novel in which he defended the freedom of art by claiming that, as an object, it is “quite useless” because it is not meant “to instruct or to influence action in any way”, but simply to be admired and “create a mood” (Oscar Wilde, 1891:1).

In the practical, productivity oriented, industrialised world, “useless” is one of the most abominable adjectives as anything that serves no functional purpose is generally condemned by a society lost in the pursuit of capitalist value. Its association with “art”, leads therefore to the outcasting of works that have been created without a specific, practical aim and which form a field meant only to entertain through “beauty” by revealing its message to the educated viewer “but by concealing its artist” (Oscar Wilde) and especially the path to its production. However, despite the stereotypes circulating in the judgement of the twenty-first century, corporate driven world, in the “creation” of “a work of art” lies a lot more than simply scribbling words on a piece of paper, dipping a brush in coloured paint or playing an instrument. Complex thinking, planning, trial and error as well as continuous improvement through rehearsal are just a few steps of the artistic process, usually ignored even by the artists themselves, if the finalised piece fails to impress its audiences. All these could be easily deconstructed and successfully applied in a variety of other circumstances, like they have been, for example, in science, where figures such as Einstein, Feynman or Feigenbaum “have credited the arts as a source of their inspiration” (Root-Bernstein, 2000:61). The process of “making art”, rather than the works of art themselves, can help in the development of a variety of skills, feelings and thinking patterns which lead to the improvement of both the results of any daily action and the steps taken towards them.

To address the question of what exactly “art” can “teach” and what can be “learned” from it, a clear definition of what it stands for is required. Furthermore, in analysing the relationship between art and “managing”, the extensive meaning of the verb needs to be addressed as well because it can be applied to everyday life but also be associated with certain individuals within social or organisational structures. Last, but not least, to understand the extent to which the two can be linked, a discussion of what “better” management refers to and how art interacts with it is also mandatory as it can be the first step in giving directions and determining the outcomes of such collaborations.

And here is the rest: essay final

Any feedback will be highly appreciated!

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2 Responses to "“All art is quite useless!” (Oscar Wilde)  Can art teach us how to ‘manage’ better?"

I can see why people could think art is useless. On the other hand, it can certainly help with personal development.

your “writing” would be “better” and less “annoying” if you didn’t “use” scare quotes “every” other “word.”

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