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May 24, 2001 The Pinksy Tapes: An inspiring teacher on video




Alfred Pinsky, who with Leah Sherman was one of the founding art teachers at Concordia, died in 1999, but many of his students will never forget how he inspired them. An artist himself, he believed that art should be taught by practising artists. It was a conceptual breakthrough in the early 1960s.

In 1991-92, not long before Pinsky’s retirement, a former student, Caroline Hart, enlisted the technical aid of Michael Keefe, of Audio Video (now IITS), to videotape his lectures in the course Analysis of Great Works of Art.

With the help of Painting Professor Leopold Plotek, Hart edited the material into seven tapes of about an hour each, and will be available through the Fine Arts Slide Library. A 20-minute preview was shown last week to an appreciative audience of about 60 colleagues and former students in the VA Building.

In that 20-minute video, Pinsky shows no works of art. He simply talks, pacing back and forth against a blank white wall, yet the listener is immediately engaged.

Hart’s printed program for the viewing says it best:

“People talked about the excitement, week after week, of watching and listening to a sharp, witty, deeply cultured, roly-poly man thinking out loud about creativity, social values, form and vitality, the fortunes of artists and artworks.

“All kinds of people were there. Art history majors loved the novelty of hearing an artist’s take on the history of art.

“For studio students, the tradition suddenly became alive and relevant to their own ambitions and practice. Generations of young artists were changed.”

At the end of his last lecture, Pinksy told his students, “You’re going to inherit the art world. Let me know when you discover the next phase. See you.”

The tapes will be made available through the Studio Arts Department, and all original data will go to Archives.