The Problem of Originality

2005 Conference

The idea of originality in art together with that of the unique individuality of the subject was central to modernism. Since the 1970s however the notions of originality and individuality have come under persistent interrogation by writers such as Frederick Jameson and Rosalind Krauss. In this paper I question the validity of their arguments suggesting that their position is essentially ideological.

I then go on to ask what are the problems that face art students in achieving originality in their practice and what are the conditions that we as art educators need to set up in order to make this more possible. In doing so I consider the place of theory in the light of the criticisms made by Peter Timms in his recent book What’s Wrong with Contemporary Art?