Adult Art Education Issue || Looking at Modern Paintings

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    Looking at Modern PaintingsAuthor(s): Burt WassermanSource: Art Education, Vol. 15, No. 8, Adult Art Education Issue (Nov., 1962), pp. 15-17Published by: National Art Education AssociationStable URL: .Accessed: 14/06/2014 03:33

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  • for artist and consumer to be aware of and to ap- preciate each other's intense interest in the arts?

    At least one answer of the deliberations of these

    times; of the differences of viewpoint and prejudice at the conference; of the fears and hopes of the

    creator, performer, and consumer; and of the critical evaluation and imaginative thought of the conference

    participants is contained in the conference summary: "Certainly the Wingspread Conference has made clear,

    . . , that the energies directed toward clarification of the central problem [regional arts center] to which we have addressed ourselves are not all aimed toward uniform out- comes. The outcomes will differ as our geography differs, or our speech habits, or our native soils. New York is not our target, nor is it Mecca. It has its problems as we have ours, and as it has chosen to meet its conditions in certain specific ways, so each of us has an image . . . of the ways we must meet the conditions in our own bailiwicks, with the components and the constituents we have to work with. The stimuli will be different across the country. So will the responses. The order of magnitude of any given enter- prise is not of great importance. Only the aesthetic pur- pose should be outsize-larger than anything our constitu- encies can conceive, but not for that reason beyond their powers to attain."

    In this time of expertise and the specialist, it would seem presumptuous of me, a university extension ad-

    ministrator, to assess the real value and implications of the Wingspread Conference on the Arts. Neverthe-

    less, I find my rationale for doing so and for setting these thoughts into words, in my own personal con- viction that the arts are the foundation upon which a true liberal education of the individual must be

    built, and that only with a liberally educated Ameri- can public can our democracy expect to find those

    critical, analytical, and rational individuals and col- lective judgments so essential to life in today's techno- scientific world. The artist, irrespective of the art form he uses for the expression of his thought and feeling and the administrator of the organizations which "aid,

    ignore or interpret" the artist have a joint responsi- bility to explore the conditions and the structures

    through which the arts can more directly contribute to the cultural life of the American community.

    The Wingspread Conference has provided the first such opportunity for a searching inquiry into the forces that direct not only the production of art, but its evaluation, promotion, support, and dissemination. From this inquiry there emerge a few somewhat de- tailed conclusions; the first of these is that it would be fallacy to envision the regional arts center con- cept under a single stereotyped pattern, for its strength lies in the special opportunities and resources which are available to it in each particular area. For the second and final conclusion of the conference there is reason to use the language of Norman Rice, Dean of Fine Arts at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, as he presented his final remarks to the conferees:

    "An arts center presents both an organizational and an aesthetic challenge. The aesthetic problem appears to many of us to have primacy. It implies that conditions must be found which will preserve the integrity of the artist and at the same time give him the greatest possible oppor- tunity to fulfill his creative role in society. This is not a matter of physical structures, or particular organizational method, though both may have importance. It is a matter which calls for another kind of imaginative drive-the or- ganizational power which derives from perceptive leadership, informed support and aesthetic motivation. It calls for sustained respect on both sides-respect for motive and for

    product. It implies a fluid rather than a rigid relationship, a conversational rather than a bureaucratic affiliation, an organizational bond which is supple enough to bend under stress without fracture. Assuming that such a partnership is possible, and agreeing that it is desirable, an arts cen- ter can become the most dynamic means yet made avail- able for the interpretation and support of art, and a prom- ising agency for the protection of the artist's interests. It can become the device through which decisions about finan- cial aid to the arts can best be translated into programs. It is not, in this concept, a way of regimenting, or restrain- ing, or inhibiting an artist in pursuit of his calling."

    Those of us interested in having the arts become a more important aspect of the total American culture, might well heed the exhortations of Dean Rice. Through the medium discussed at the conference, artist and administrator, institutions and government, foundations and philanthropists could harmoniously fulfill their separate roles in bringing the arts into a more prominent position in the American society.


    Looking at modern paintings Painting, more than any other art form of the

    current period, seems to arouse the greatest curiosity and consternation among uninitiated adults. Frequent- ly, we wish we would reach these adults, for unhappily many of the notions held by the young people we meet

    in the schools often reflect what they have learned and heard from parents and other adults.

    Art teachers who work with adults should find the materials originally provided by The Fund for Adult Education in their LOOKING AT MODERN PAINT- ING course genuinely useful. Though the Fund for Adult Education is no longer in existence, the ma- terials they formerly provided are still available.

    Dr. Burt Wasserman is an Associate Professor of Art at Glassboro State College, Glassboro, N. J.

    NOVEMBER 1962 15

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  • Colored slides for use in Looking at Modern Painting Course

    The course was expressly designed for people who have had little or no experience with the expressional painting of the twentieth century. The content of the course is addressed to those who find modern art puzzling and non-communicative. Learning activities are geared in the direction of undermining ignorance and prejudice, disturbing indifference, and awakening interest.

    The course presents facts and opinions of all kinds. However, it does not try to give adults a pre-digested series of generalizations that over-simplify and con- veniently explain away the many bewildering and sometimes contradictory qualities that characterize the painting of our time. Instead, the course aims to gen- erate sympathy and concern for the creative problems of the artist. Though the program does not pretend to be an exhaustive treatment of contemporary art, it does identify dominant movements and raises many searching questions about the work and role of the artist in today's world.

    The materials for the course consist of the fol- lowing:

    For adults participating as members of a learning group-a handsomely printed manual complete with ten chapters of text and lavishly illustrated with fine black and white as well as full color reproductions.

    For the discussion leader-1) a set of forty-four slides illustrating work by familiar, modern artists. In addition, to point up certain questions and to draw interesting analogies, there are also included several examples of drawing and painting by old masters; 2) a special leader's manual which includes notes on the slides, analyses of paintings to be viewed, and readings by and about the artists whose work is examined.

    All of these materials help to demonstrate how artists and art critics agree and disagree. Through the balanced presentation of many and varied ap-

    Original text book and suggestions for group discussion process

    proaches and ideas, no single point of view or bias is allowed to dominate the others.

    The course generally consists of ten two-hour sessions. During each meeting several of the slides are projected. They are discussed by the group in relation to what they have read, thought about, and seen. The art teacher's role is that of an informed discussion leader,-not a lecturer.

    Topics for the discussion are suggested by the

    chapter titles of the participant's manual or text-book. They include:

    1. Types of Judgment 2. The Independence of Form 3. The Search for the Absolute 4. The Dominance of Emotion 5. The Creation of New Symbols 6. Making the Mind Visible: Surrealism 7. Creativity and Craftsmanship 8. Sources of Form: The New Environment 9. Function of the Painter

    10. Freedom and Responsibility

    Obviously, no attempt is made to provide a chrono- logical development. Instead, big, open-ended clusters of ideas are used as a framework for encouraging and stimulating participants to compare their reactions with each other.

    The unique advantage of group discussion as a means of learning comes from the many sided ex- change of seeing-thinking-feeling experiences held by the participants. In addition, group discussion pro- vides an air of informality that generally tends to

    appeal to the adult who may not be especially inter- ested in more formalized approaches to learning.

    Some effects of group discussion as an approach to the teaching-learning process have been observed and may be reported. Participants have explained that as a result of exposure to modern art and through read-

    ings and discussions they have increased their knowl-

    edge and understanding of the subject. Many of the


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  • people who have taken the course maintain that par- ticipation has enabled them to see modern art in a new light, to change former attitudes toward what

    they used to think of as obscure movements in paint- ing, and to appreciate and enjoy (both old and new)

    paintings which they previously had felt to be beyond their understanding or interest. In some instances, individuals who come only to ridicule the pictures to be examined found themselves slowly becoming more and more intrigued and fascinated by what they saw and heard. After a few sessions, instead of poking fun at examples of cubism or abstract expressionism they could be heard explaining to other participants in the

    group how they were defending these movements and

    encouraging non-participants to "open their eyes and their minds" and see without prejudice. Many whom I've worked with were going to visit museums to have a first-hand look for themselves for the first time in their lives.

    General advice and assistance on the formation of

    adult discussion groups may be obtained from The American Foundation for Continuing Education, 19 South La Salle Street, Chicago 3, Illinois.

    The text for participants in the course, Looking at Modern Painting edited by Leonard Freedman is available in a soft bound cover from the publisher, W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 55 Fifth Avenue, New York 3, New York.

    The set of 44 slides, complete with the group dis- cussion leader's manual may be purchased from the Audio-Visual Center, Indiana University, Blooming- ton, Indiana.

    Surely, when the mature members of a community are better informed about the art of their time, they are prone to view the art program of their public schools with greater understanding and sympathy. A

    good step in that direction may be taken through the introduction of a course designed to aid the adults of a school district to more effectively know how to appre- ciate the creative output of contemporary artists.


    Double image slide projection technique Recent advances in the technology of image pro-

    jection have made possible certain teaching tech- niques not heretofore available. As is usual with ad- vancing technology, the field of functional usage has lagged behind, all the more so because greater ad- vantage in this instance also means greater cost. In fact, a very simple rule would naturally apply-- double image, double cost. Since double advantage also seems to exist, it is well that we investigate the

    pros and cons available to us in this field.

    As a definition, double projection means two simul- taneously projected images side by side on one large screen or two adjacent screens. This projection of double images enables the lecturer to make visual

    comparisons directly without depending upon memory retention from image to image. It also enables him to show simultaneously two aspects of the subject; for instance, the front and the back, the top and the bottom, the old and the new, an Oriental-Occidental

    comparison, something from the north and south or

    NOVEMBER 1962 17

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    Article Contentsp.15p.16p.17

    Issue Table of ContentsArt Education, Vol. 15, No. 8, Adult Art Education Issue (Nov., 1962), pp. 1-31Front Matter [pp.1-3]Art in Action: The Wisconsin Idea [pp.4-7]Adult Art Education: Pasadena City Schools [pp.7-10]A Look at Adult Education and Art [pp.11-13]The Arts at Wingspread [pp.14-15]Looking at Modern Paintings [pp.15-17]Double Image Slide Projection Technique [pp.17-28]Art Museum News and Notes [pp.20-21]News of the Profession [pp.22-27]Back Matter [pp.29-31]


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