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Art School Tells Students to Buy Pictureless $180 Art History Book

What is this, October!? According to a blog post published by a disgruntled parent of a student, the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) is forcing students to buy an art history book for $180 — which wouldn’t be unheard of, but the catch is that the publishers of this book didn’t get any of the image rights for the artwork it includes. To reiterate, that’s an art history survey without any pictures. WTF?

Instead of having pictures of artwork, the book, Global Visual and Material Culture: Prehistory to 1800 (so named for the course it goes with), instead just has placeholders with instructions to see a digital version for the actual image. It’s like a website with only broken image links. Just check out this hilarious sample page from the book:

An excerpt page from the pictureless textbook (courtesy ashleyit.com)

At first, it seemed that the publisher couldn’t clear the copyright permissions before the book’s print run. But as it turns out, the book is actually a zombie-like combination of parts of three different art history books. A letter from the school’s dean stated that had they decided to clear all the images for copyright to print, the book would have cost a whopping $800.

The disgruntled parent complains,I’m not particularly interested in paying any amount for an imageless art history textbook.” We’re inclined to agree. In the context, OCAD’s faux-inspiring slogan of “imagination is everything” takes on a whole new meaning. Don’t have any pictures of art? Just imagine them all!

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