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Lesson Plans

Re: teaching contemporary art

From: craig roland (rolandc)
Date: Wed Jul 19 2000 - 17:15:33 PDT

  • Next message: KLMVisArt: "Re: teaching contemporary art"

    As with Louise, I found Patricia's comments on the issue of teaching
    contemporary art thought-provoking. They have caused me to emerge
    from my lurking and to return to the fold, so to speak.

    Being on an art faculty at UF that has largely jettisoned "modernist"
    ideals in educating art students, the art education students I work
    with here encounter all sorts of content and practices in their
    studio classes which would be difficult if not inappropriate to
    translate into public schools classrooms. But, I feel that
    Patricia's statment (as follows) is somewhat of an
    over-generalization of the art being produced today:

    >>99% of it has content that is either sexually explicit , or
    >>addressing political issues that refer to sensitive issues that we
    >>have tried to deal with by some new form of language that is

    I'd have a difficult time, for example, characterizing Andy
    Goldsworthy's work as "sexually explicit" or as addressing "political

    I do strongly believe that if children are to understand and derive
    meaning from the art they will encounter in their lives, they must be
    prepared to deal with contemporary forms of art. Contemporary art is
    generally defined as art made after 1940. It is characterized by
    great diversity and experimentation. Contemporary artists are
    continually making us examine all of our widely held notions about
    art. I often quote from George Szekely when talking to art education
    students about teaching contemporary art:

    "To be an artist today is to be continually engaged in questioning
    what art is and what it cold be; it is to be constantly reinventing

    To understand (and teach about) contemporary art, then, is to raise
    the question again and again, "What is art?"

    >Perhaps what we need here is a definition of contemporary art.
    > Modern art is one thing- the abstract, the non-objective ... we
    >should as art educators be able to deal with these. To me,
    >Contemporary means what is happening today.

    Here, I do agree with Patricia. we must separate "modern" art from
    "contemporary" art.

    One book I recommend for those looking for summer reading material is
    Lucy Lippard's "The Lure of the Local" (1997) which offers an
    interesting perspective on at least some contemporary artists and
    work that can serve as models for classroom activities.

    There is much more to say...but I'm afraid I'll exceed my limit on
    lines. Besides, I have to go see who get kicks off "Survivor" this



    CRAIG ROLAND. Associate Professor-Art Education.
    School of Art and Art History, FAC 302,
    University of Florida, Gainesville Florida.
    32611-5801. (352) 392-9165 - Art Ed Office (352) 392-8453 - Fax
    new email address: rolandc


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