foundations of learning

by Chantal

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) in his studio. photo by Dornac (Paul Francois Arnold Cardon) (1859-1941) Archives Larousse, Paris.

Auguste Rodin discussing the decline of the “apprenticeship” as artist training.

“It was thought that apprenticeship could be replaced by academic training, but the student attending our present day schools is not an apprentice. He is not compelled to exert himself, he works when he pleases, he is already an artist-to-be, not a craftsman; too often he is already a “Monsieur”. By carrying out a multitude of simple tasks, the apprentice used to absorb the spirit of the studio and obedience. He then got to grips with his craft, trained his hand while learning its first principles, and made fresh progress each day. After that, he worked on compositions by his older colleagues, daily contact with whom moulded his young intelligence, before being allowed to proceed with trial efforts of his own. In short, before starting to produce, he had time to yearn to produce” 

Would today’s equivalent be working as a student assistant to an established artist as opposed to obtaining an art qualification at a teaching institution? I know they are not simple comparisons to draw but reading Rodin’s thoughts today left me thinking on the benefits of artist mentors and the difference in teaching that is imparted in such a relationship.