Few things are as sad as wasted or unfulfilled talent--especially when that waste results from poor advice or from schooling that stresses dogma over creative fulfillment. Or that refrains from guiding youthful talent altogether.
Particularly tragic is the sort of art education that takes only the most immediate and short-range view of art--and that produces half-baked and superficially facile ''artists'' as a result. This schooling stresses mimicry of fashion over creative self-discovery and insists that whatever is new and exciting is almost certainly good. It considers regular attendance at the ''important'' galleries more crucial to the student than regular museum visits--and the careful study of art magazines more vital than the reading of serious books on art.
Worst of all, it encourages students to assume that all that is required to create art is inner necessity and the ability to give form to that inner drive through one or another currently fashionable style.
A prime example of what can result from such misdirected art training can be seen in the first part of a two-part exhibition at the Drawing Center here. ''New Drawing in America'' is made up of 174 artists who participated over the past five years in one or another of the center's emerging-artists exhibitions. Since they represent not only New York, but 34 other cities as well, it is safe to assume this show is a fair cross section of what art schools are turning out these days.
I can only hope that the good drawings in this exhibition have been reserved for Part 2 for I would hate to think that what we see in part one is representative. I have seldom seen such an assemblage of creative confusion and misdirected energy and talent. It's a trendy, gimmicky, and superficial exhibition in which whatever is half good is obviously borrowed.
It is all the more sad because it is an exhibition of drawings--that mode of expression in which clarity and directness are demanded above all else. For an artist, drawing -- be it as Durer practiced it or as Pollock--and thinking are pretty much the same thing. Both derive from the need to clarify and to direct. An artist who cannot ''think'' clearly and directly with pencil, brush, or even with smeared paint will almost certainly never get far enough outside his inner impulses and feelings to create anything even vaguely resembling art.
Even so, it's a show that should be seen--even if only as an object lesson. Part 1 will remain on view at the Drawing Center in SoHo through Feb. 27. Part 2 will open on March 10 and run through May 1.