A Rare, Public Glimpse at a School of Art Critique

April 18, 2014

Art21 New York Close Up, a documentary film series, has released a video showcasing a final class critique filmed in the fall 2011 semester Advanced Painting studio taught by Josephine Halvorson A'03. The six minute short, entitled Josephine Halvorson Gets the Conversation Going, provides a rare peek at a core process in one of America's most selective undergraduate art schools. Josephine Halvorson was a visiting artist at the time, teaching a course limited to upperclassmen. The course description read, in part, "In both individual and group critiques, students will articulate their preoccupations, motives, and positions. ... This course is designed for students who are up to the challenge of examining and pursuing that which is at the core of their impulse to create." During the video students offer candid reactions to one another's work as well as what the critique means to them. Josephine Halvorson also gives her thoughts on the process. "I know it's going well when people are talking. When they are learning from each other. When they are sharing ideas with one another," Halvorson says in the video. 

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.