International Journal of Art & Design Education

Six into One: The Contradictory Art School Curriculum and how it Came About(pages 107–120)

Volume 35.1   2016



This article reports historical research which sought to understand the present-day post-secondary art curriculum through analysing its history in terms of changes in conceptions of art. It found that there have been six distinctive curricula: Apprentice, Academic, Formalist, Expressive, Conceptual and Professional. As a new curriculum has been introduced, it has co-existed with much contained in a previous one. Most of the curriculum changes have taken place in the past 65 years. During this time, there has been a massive expansion in the education of artists and at the same time art schools accommodated first modernism and then post-Duchampian aesthetics. A conclusion is that this has made for a very crowded curriculum. Moreover, despite there being an ever increasing choice of things a student might learn, it appears that there is nothing which all students have to learn. It can be problematic that one part of the curriculum is in contradiction to another part, and moreover this lack of a core raises fundamental, ontological questions about what art as a discipline is.