Postmodern Dilemmas: Outrageous Essays in Art & Art Education

By Jan Jagodzinski | Go to book overview

3
From the Palette to the Palate: Deconstructing the Consumerism of Art Education In an Age of Postmodernity

This essay was begun during my stay at Schwäbisch Hall, West Germany April 1986, while studying German at the Goethe Institute, and finished back home in 1987. The time to study there gave me an opportunity to visit the Documenta in Kassel and a visit to Stuttgart Museum which helped solidify some of the ideas on postmodern architecture I was reading. It presents a lexicon of terms for postmodern art education. The essay was never published. Because of its importance for me personally as a benchmark in my explorations of the postmodern, I have left it virtually intact. There is but one new reference'rence added ( Wolff, 1992) which helps to clarift; a poststructuralist understanding of "woman" and a note on the fatwa issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie. It began as a diary entry but developed into a feature-length essay. Its stylistic roughness reflects the dtfficulties I was having in trying to understand what postmodern and poststructuralism were all about.


Diary 04, 07, 86:

I
Lowenfeld & Greenberg's Modernism

Like any major disciplinary corpus, art educators have never been a homogeneous group in full accord with what role art should play in the lives of students. Diversity, contradiction, disagreements should be the watchwords of any democracy. Perhaps the closest the field has come to a center, at least in the North American context, was during the Lowenfeldian postwar era when there were strong agreements that art as creative expression should form the ground of theorizing. This period in art education history was colored by a certain wholeness and unity; a pedagogical mission had been found for the development of democratic citizenship -- but times have changed!

Art historians such as Guilbault ( 1983) have provided clues as to why such centralization was possible. It was in America's interest at that time to mobilize a "switching code," to use Eco's ( 1976: 286-298) precise terminology; a code which would help differentiate American politics from the Soviet Bloc. Cold War tactics required an art form which was totally depoliticized; one which would be the antithesis of socialist realism as practiced by Soviet artists and by members of the WPA/FAP.1

____________________
1
The acronym stands for Works Progress Administration/Federal Arts Projects, which were instituted in 1935, the peak years lasting from 1936 to 1939. It is a well-documented period in American art history. See Francis V. O'Connor ( 1972, 1973).

-79-

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