Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in Visual Arts

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SAGE, 2010 - Education - 281 pages
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"F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said that the test of a 'first rate intelligence' is 'the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind and still retain the ability to function.'

In this book, his magnum opus, artist and scholar Graeme Sullivan shows us a first rate mind at work. He convincingly straddles the often wide gaps between art and science, mind and body, research and practice, teaching and doing, traditional and postmodern views of education and of art, creative and critical thinking. Indeed, as his enigmatic title indicates, he is actually able to keep three usually disparate concepts—art, research, and practice—in mind at the same time. Through his skilled use of compelling sidebars and apt illustrations, Sullivan shows that he can practice what he preaches. I have been arguing with and learning from Graeme for thirty years and am grateful that he has the opportunity to share his provocative ideas and insights with a wider readership. Indeed, whether or not we agree with every contention, he heightens our own intelligences."
—Howard Gardner, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Author of Five Minds for the Future

Substantially updated and revised, Art Practice as Research, Second Edition presents a compelling theory that the creative and cultural inquiry undertaken by artists is a form of research. Sullivan argues that legitimate research goals can be achieved by choosing different methods than those offered by the social sciences.. Artists emphasize the role of the imaginative intellect in creating, criticizing, and constructing knowledge that is not only new but also has the capacity to transform human understanding.

New to this Edition

  • Two new chapters explore debates surrounding art practice as research and projects undertaken within the art world, community, and institutional settings.
  • New, expanded sections make reference to the work of over fifty artist-researchers from countries such as Azerbaijan, Australia, China, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, Serbia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • Documentation of a series of approaches (for instructors and students), grounded in art-making traditions unique to visual arts research, is included.
Would you like to connect with the author?
Go to Graeme Sullivan's website, or visit a blog by Graeme Sullivan welcoming contributors interested in discussing ideas and sharing information about art as a form of research.

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User Review  - tgoodson - LibraryThing

This is certainly not the view of research currently rewarded by the policy makers, but it is important. Read full review


Pigment to Pixel
Paradigms Lost
Practice and Beyond
PracticeBased and PracticeLed Research
Visual Knowing
Artist as Theorist
Visual Arts Projects
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About the author (2010)

Graeme is Director of the School of Visual Arts, Penn State University, and Professor of Art Education. He is the former Chair of the Department of Arts and Humanities, Teachers College, Columbia University. He received both his PhD and MA in Art Education from The Ohio State University. Since the early 1990s his research has involved an ongoing investigation of thinking processes in visual arts and studio-based research practices. These ideas and approaches are described in the new edition of Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in the Visual Arts ( Graeme has published widely in the field of art education and in 1990 received the Manual Barkan Memorial Award for scholarly writing, and the 2007 Lowenfeld Award for significant contribution to the field of art education, both from the National Art Education Association. Graeme is also the author of Seeing Australia: Views of Artists and Artwriters (1994). Graeme maintains an active art practice and his Streetworks ( have been installed in several international cities and sites over the past fifteen years.

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