Old School: The Case for Specialism in Art Education

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Working in one specialism or another is what defines many artists’ practice. Think of Ad Reinhardt’s solitary monk-like devotion to painting near black square canvases, Bernd and Hilla Becher’s 40-year career photographing industrial architecture, or Gerhard Richter’s ‘daily practice of painting’. Single-minded allegiance to a mode of making and subject matter is seen as a sign of artistic integrity and seriousness of purpose. Auction houses and galleries often refer to the distinctiveness of an artists’ work as a ‘signature’. Inevitably a ‘signature’ work will be the most highly valued. Yet within art education to define a Fine Art course by a media specialism – painting, or photography, or printmaking, or sculpture, and so on – is now seen as antiquated, irrelevant, and restrictive. This essay explores how specialisms came to be viewed negatively within art education and argues that there is still be a place for them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpecialism
EditorsD. Blamey
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherOpen Editions
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780949004017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2016


  • Art education


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