This kind of article is starting to feel dated, now: I'm actually expecting the Next Big Thing in Theory to replace po-mo as the whipping boy of art school.

Potential candidates have included over the recent years: cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, embodiement, the archive, memory, etc.

That said, the author makes a fair point in underlining the previous generation's orthodoxy: spontaneity. It, just like the theory he berates, used to be the justification against technical skill.

All of which is not surprising when you look at visual arts in Europe and North America since the late 19th century: there has been an explicit dispute over style that used skill as its bone of contention. Just look at Gauguin trying to "primitivise" himself or Cézanne trying to paint like a child. You don't need the "po-" before the "mo": this kind of anti-technical attitude is a highlight of the long Modernity that we're still a part of.

I would place its roots with the Romantics of the early 19th, who were trying to dislodge themselves from the mechanics of reason, rules, classicism, Enlightenments, scientific knowledge. They wanted freedom above all, so one side of the coin of this kind of thinking is to let it all go, whereas the other is to bury yourself in the fictions of your intellect (I'm looking at you, Fichte!).

And let's not forget that photography itself is a very important player in this mindset: by "freeing" you from the constraint to draw, photography has been a justification for so many artists with a theoretical and conceptual bent. George Bernard Shaw actually believed that drawing was a much more mechanical, un-free artistic activity compared to photography, since the latter allowed you to let your idea burst effortlessly from your mind. Of course, after that other people went in and argued that photography was the great inhuman Machine (some like the Bauhaus people actually liked that; others felt pushed to go back making macrame for a more authentic, human form of art).

Maybe the real problem is with art school as such: too much time wasted on the artist's statement, not enough on the making. The sad fact of the matter is that many AS teachers have a poor grasp of the rather complex (and sometimes confusing) concepts they borrowed from their next door colleagues in literature, art history, or philosophy. I won't necessarily say that the latter always use them right (many of them also have a very poor grasp of the complex concepts they should be dealing with!), but their sole output will be more confusing words; art school teachers have to train people to do things, not just writing stuff. As a consequence, the students get pre-digested ideas, and sound bites instead of sound engagement with an intellectual tradition.