Deconstructing Instructions in the Art Academy

Henrike Scholten, Vanessa van 't Hoogt

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    Drawing as a manual discipline was long taught in the West according to specific ‘academic’ principles, culminating institutionally in the art academies of the 19th century. This educational process was mediated by visual images and three-dimensional objects, and relied on copying as a means to acquire manual skill along with a ‘vocabulary’ of idealized forms. During the twentieth century the roles, values and practices of art changed profoundly, and consequently methods of artistic education changed as well. As symbols of a tradition overcome, many (modernizing) art academies, many instruction books, plaster casts of sculptures, and écorchés were either discarded or consigned to storage rooms and libraries. In one such art school, Minerva Art Academy in Groningen (the Netherlands), a didactic experiment was undertaken in the spring semester of 2019. Art historian Vanessa van ‘t Hoogt and artist Henrike Scholten designed and taught an elective course that investigates and reflects critically on the art academy’s history. Using a historically informed, experimental and practice-based pedagogic approach, the 16-week course challenged 23 undergraduate art students to engage with the material and didactic heritage of the art academy. Not in a nostalgic or neo-academic fashion, but on their own terms as contemporary art students. This project report describes some aspects of the authors’ didactic approach during the course. As an investigative and sometimes performative project, it toes the line between educational action research and object-based teaching. The aim of the course was to provide art students with new tools to engage with the history of their discipline and its processes of skill acquisition in a reflective and generative way.
    Originele taal-2English
    Pagina's (van-tot)123–137
    Aantal pagina's15
    TijdschriftDrawing: Research, Theory, Practice
    Nummer van het tijdschrift1
    StatusPublished - 1-apr.-2021

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