Spheres Of Influence
Yale University’s art department in the early 1960s emphasized a pluralist approach, featuring teachers with wide-ranging practices who encouraged students to master different techniques, media, and styles. Following the transformational teaching methodologies Josef Albers established during his tenure as chairman of the department (1950-58), Jack Tworkov, Albers’ successor from 1963-69, continued to innovate by inviting artists active in the New York art scene to teach at the school. At Tworkov’s invitation, Al Held, like Albers a hard-edged abstract painter, joined the graduate faculty in 1963 as Visiting Critic, and assumed the title of Associate Professor in 1966, and Adjunct Professor of Art in 1970. Held was a role model, representing to his students the successful professional engagement possible for a working artist. He was to continue teaching at Yale until 1980, later revealing in an interview teaching’s impact on his own work: “… every year there are two or three or four kids who you begin to believe in, you develop a relationship with and because of that kind of credibility and believability from you to them they force you to see things that you wouldn't have looked at very seriously by yourself.” The dialogue between teacher and student was a dynamic and multi-directional one.