Disciplines in Art Education -- Art Education by Albert William Levi and Ralph A. Smith / Art History and Education by Stephen Addiss and Mary Erickson / Aesthetics and Education by Michael J. Parsons and H. Gene Blocker / and Others

By Singerman, Howard | The Art Bulletin, September 1995 | Go to article overview

Disciplines in Art Education -- Art Education by Albert William Levi and Ralph A. Smith / Art History and Education by Stephen Addiss and Mary Erickson / Aesthetics and Education by Michael J. Parsons and H. Gene Blocker / and Others


Singerman, Howard, The Art Bulletin


ALBERT WILLIAM LEVI AND RALPH A, SMITH Art Education: A Critical Necessity Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991. 280 pp.; 15 b/w ills. $39.95; $16.95 paper

STEPHEN ADDISS AND MARY ERICKSON Art History and Education Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993. 256 pp.; 13 b/w ills. $39.95; $15.95 paper

MICHAEL J, PARSONS AND H, GENE BLOCKER Aesthetics and Education Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993. 208 pp.; 11 b/w ills. $39.95; Q616.95 paper

MAURICE BROWN AND DIANA KORZENIK Art Making and Education Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993. 240 pp.; 18 b/w ills. $39.95; S15.95 paper

When, in 1955, Erwin Panofsky recounted the development of art history in the United States, he turned to the early numbers of this periodical to illustrate the discipline's difficult birth:

At the beginning, the nay discipline had to fight its way out of an entanglement with practical art instruction, art appreciation, and that amorphous monster "general education." The early issues of the Art Bulletin, founded in 1913 and now recognized as the leading art-historical periodical of the world, were chiefly devoted to such topics as "What Instruction in Art Should the College A.B. Course Offer to the Future Layman?"; "The Value of Art in a College Course"; "What People Enjoy in Pictures"; or "Preparation of the Child for a College Course in Arc." Art history, as we know it, sneaked in by the back door.(1) Art history arrived first, and Panofsky adds, "characteristically," through the book reviews.(2) The Art Bulletin, then, is an ironic place for these four volumes to be reviewed: their presence here marks a momentary return of the repressed. Published, as each back cover notes, "with the assistance of the Getty Center for Education in the Arts," the four volumes--Art Education, Art History and Education, Aesthetics and Education, and Art Mating and Education--comprise a series entitled "Disciplines in Art Education: Contexts of Understanding." Together, they ask much the same questions that were posed in the titles of the early Art Bulletin essays that Panofsky so easily skewered: what should grade-school and high-school children learn about art, at what age, and to what end? and how should art be taught? The questions do not strike me as unreasonable.

The Illinois series takes its name from Discipline-Based Art Education, a now decade-old movement in art education funded in many of its manifestations by the Getty Center. The prehistory of DBAE lies in the post-Sputnik push to teach the disciplines, to reform school-age science and math through the "participation in curriculum development by university scholars and scientists, men distinguished for their work at the frontiers of their respective disciplines," as Jerome Bruner wrote in 1960.(3) The disciplines were more than the source for Bruner's best minds, they were a remedy for the disconnectedness of classroom knowledge: each discipline has its own organizing principles that serve to structure information and guide inquiry. In 1966, art educator Manuel Barkan argued that while "the disciplines of art are of a different order" than Bruner's sciences, "artistic inquiry is not loose."(4) Following Edmund Feldman and, as Albert William Levi and Ralph A. Smith note in Art Education, recalling Panofsky, Barkan grounded artistic inquiry in the humanities:

The professional scholars of art--the artists, the critics, the historians--would be models for inquiry, because the kind of human meaning questions they ask about art and life, and the particular ways of conceiving and acting on these questions are the kinds of questions and ways of acting that art instruction would be seeking to teach students to ask and act upon.(5)

This division of labor among the academic professionals of art, along with the appeal to professional expertise, determines the authorship of the three books that carry the titular supplement and Education. …

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