art, institutions, and organization theory


I took my mba org theory class to see the Paths to Impressionism art exhibit today (on loan at our university from the Worcester Art Museum) – the exhibit features paintings by Monet, Dupre, Sargent, Sisley, Inness, Corot, Pissarro etc.  In the class we are presently covering matters related to innovation, and the exhibit brilliantly (with vignettes and timelines throughout the exhibit) discusses the emergence of impressionism, and contrasts (technique, subjects, general ethos) it with previous orders and genres, and highlights the many institution-related difficulties that impressionism faced from the 1860s onward. 

In the past I have had guest lecturers come in to discuss innovation and institutions (or, related stuff), or had the students read social construction-type materials, but, the museum visit accomplished the same thing (frankly, it was significantly more effective and interesting), plus, we had a great time. 

Below some questions (from a worksheet I put together) that the students were asked to consider while perusing the exhibit:

  1. What were the predominant themes of art before impressionism?  That is, what was painted, how, by whom, where, etc.
  2. What innovations did impressionism, or specific impressionist artists make?  What made the innovations “radical” and impressionist artists “lunatics”?
  3. How was the new emerging order (impressionism) similar to the previous order (beaux arts academism etc)? Why wasn’t there a direct leap from the previous order to (for example) cubism?
  4. What challenges did impressionism face from the established order?  How long did it take for impressionism to become “mainstream”?
  5. What role did institutions (Salon de Paris, critics etc) play in all this?  From whom did impressionists need buy-in and legitimacy?
  6. How did elements of impressionism diffuse?
  7. What (from the above and the exhibit more generally) can we apply to innovation and creativity generally (at the societal, organizational and individual-level)?
  8. Any other observations?

Written by teppo

February 28, 2007 at 9:18 pm

Posted in sociology, teppo

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  1. […] Ross King, The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade that gave the World Impressionism. Quick take: Highly engaging, well-written and researched – an excellent book.  Lots of very interesting metatheoretical subthemes embedded in the emergence of impressionism regarding institutions, art, judgment, aesthetics, organizations etc (also see this previous post). […]


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