International Journal of Art & Design Education

Educating Art in a Globalising World. The University of Ideas: A Sociological Case Study

Volume 25.1   2006



In 1999, the Italian Arte Povero artist Michelangelo Pistoletto and other artists laid the foundations of The University of Ideas (UNIDEE), an exceptional international artist-in-residence program with a strong ideological foundation. As a sociologist of culture I had the opportunity to do research in the huge organisation for a month by doing participant observation, in-depth interviews and discourse analysis. In this paper the educational program of UNIDEE is interpreted in sociological terms. First of all it will be contextualized in the artistic work of Michelangelo Pistoletto through his concept of the mirror and his a-modern idea of The Minus Artist. In the second part Pistoletto’s artistic, political and economic movement Cittadellarte, in which UNIDEE is based, will be described. Finally UNIDEE will be analysed as a model for art education on the border of modernity attempting to re-define the position of art and of the artist in a globalizing world.