Fine Art Analytics: Mining Doctoral Dissertations on Painting (Greece, 1986-2019)

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Τhis paper aims to map and analyze the intellectual framework of research in Greek doctoral dissertations on painting and its reflection on the international research canvas. By using fine art text analytics and social networks analysis techniques, this study builds the internal and external structure and research relationships of doctoral theses in the Greek National Archive of PhD Theses. Data and metadata were obtained from 156 dissertations available for electronic database searching, covering the period 1986 to 2019 across all disciplines with only criterion the occurrence of the term “painting” in their title, abstract or keywords section. The theses were analyzed to determine growth trends, institutional output, disciplinary context, thematical coverage, interdisciplinarity, and variations among University departments. Results indicate that the growth in the number of doctoral theses on painting, following international trends, rapidly increased after 2003, mainly generated from History and Archaeology departments focusing on 17th to 20th century frescoes and iconography. STEM related disciplines contributed more than anticipated, while no theses from the fields of Fine Art Entrepreneurship, Economics, and Finance were awarded.
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This article reports on the issues arising from the AHRC Research Review: Practice-Led Research in Art, Design and Architecture, published in February 2008 by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. These include the continuing question of defining activity in the field, the underdeveloped scholarly infrastructure, and the nature of the contribution to knowledge made by the artefact or designed object. The article also draws upon an analysis of completed doctorates in art and design made possible by the Art & Design Index to Theses (ADIT). This earlier project, which set up a scholarly resource for the research community, enables the growth of doctoral activity in the fine art field to be measured and the range of approaches to enquiry to be evaluated. The analysis of doctoral work to date indicates the extent to which professional practice has begun to be incorporated into doctoral projects. An uncritical revisionism or relabelling of activities within the realm of professional practice and doctoral study is evident in the data consulted in the two studies, reflecting the continuing prominence of the exhibition as a means of disseminating the outcomes of creative practice.
I suggest that to properly understand current resistance within parts of the academy to practice-based doctoral programmes in the creative arts one has to understand the deeply entrenched character of the social division between intellec-tual and manual labour in our society. Victor Burgin's typology of doctoral candi-dates for visual arts programmes and tripartite structure of doctoral study is, I argue, hierarchical, privileging traditional humanities scholarship over studio-based methodologies of research.
The merger of art schools into academic institutions and the consequent proliferation of higher degree courses in the visual arts has created pressure for these courses to justify that their research content ‘measures up’ to more traditional research practices.This study aimed to identify the parameters for PhD examination and research practices in the field of Fine Art through interviews with Fine Art examiners as well as an analysis of written PhD examination reports. A comparison of PhD examination reports across disciplines revealed that there were similarities as well as some significant differences between the type of feedback provided by Fine Art examiners and feedback by examiners from other disciplines. Interviews with 15 Fine Art examiners from 11 Australian institutions provided information about the expectations, standards and models of evaluation in the Fine Art field as well as how examiners perceive their role and what constraints are evident in current examination processes.
This paper examines the changing relationship of art practice to academic research in higher education since 1960. Whereas art practice was often conceived of as divorced from any notion of academic or theoretical work in the post 1960 art school, by the 1990s the ground had changed to such a degree that it was possible to pursue doctoral study in art practice. This emergence of practice-based PhDs can be considered as part of a larger shift in art education and its acceptance of theory. On the one hand, the practice-based PhD could be interpreted as the logical consequence of critical, politically aware practices. On the other hand, the founding of the practice-based PhD can be connected to a series of educational reforms, particularly the introduction of the RAE, and the increasing need for departments to develop strategies for economic survival. In addition to tracing both the pedagogical, institutional and artistic legacy of practice based PhDs this paper focuses on the way in which a predominantly socialist commitment to integrated theory and practice meets with conservative educational reforms over the ground of the PhDs. I argue that this both highlights the institutional input into what art practice or indeed research is acknowledged to be and raises questions concerning the possibility of maintaining a critical art agenda.
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