Page 20 - Studio International - December1996
P. 20

Anniversary of the International         Friends of the Tate). The buoyancy of the movement   And so the Mystery—Something' persists to still
       Surrealist Exhibition                    was soon to be overwhelmed by the real terrors of the   torment the western mind. And the task of Art Educa-
                                                Second World War, and English painting which had   tion is to try to rationalize that 'Something' into
       The 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition was held   been stimulated but never fully won over, returned   an 'Nth Dimension', and to find a means of 'Inculcat-
       in June at the New Burlington Gallery in Vigo St.   rapidly to a more characteristic insular idealism. Now   ing'—not 'teaching'—it into the receptive student—not
       It brought to London for the first time a large selection   after thirty years we can begin again to assess this   'Inserting it' Into the 'curriculum', to gather the dust
       of surrealist work by the leaders of the movement,   period as we witness in contemporary painting and   of 'exercises'.
       including Breton, Magritte, Dali, Chirico, Ernst,   sculpture the triumph of many of the ideas that the   But how to do this? The answer has to presuppose
       Masson, Miró, Tanguy, Duchamp and Giacometti   1936 Exhibition first introduced to London.   certain 'understandings', rather than just ice-cold
       and work by other European painters that the                                      'knowledge', on the part of the 'inculcator', capable
       apologists were prepared to accept, such as Klee   The Connoisseur' prize         of being communicated to receptive students who
       and Picasso. Some of these personalities also came to                             reveal the beginning of 'comprehension' in their work.
       London—Breton opened the exhibition and Salvador   An annual £100 prize 'for one or maybe two, groups   This may sound tough-going. But it presupposes a
       Dali gave his memorable lecture from the inside of a   of work' is being awarded by  The Connoisseur   separation of preparation of 'Design-students' from
       deep-sea divers suit. The effect of these events and   magazine to students of the Royal Academy Schools.   those who have 'feeling' for the 'Nth Dimension'. It
       people on the work of many British artists at this time   Awards will be made by the Keeper after consultation   also premises teachers who would enjoy sharing with
       was of overwhelming importance. The ideas of the   with the teaching staff. This year's award is shared   such students. However, no matter how 'way-out' the
       movement, founded in the discoveries of the psy-  by two painters, George Rowlett and John Kiki.   proposition may sound, it is becoming increasingly
       cho-analysts and representing in part the revolu-                                 clear that something must be done to create the
      tionary reaction of a generation that had known the   In brief                     climate in which art can be re-discovered and
      stability of pre-1914 Europe and then had had to                                   allowed to develop.
       participate in the 1914-18 War, were already familiar   A large exhibition of American and British graphics   Yours etc.
      to painters and writers in this country. Many were   is planned for March—April at the Modern Museum,   Ernest Philpot
      sympathetic to the movement and the exhibition   Belgrade. The exhibition may be shown at Belgrade   London, S.W.19
       contained work by a list of English painters that now   later.
      seems very strange, for as well as the expected Paul                               Dear Sir,
       Nash, Edward Burra, Roland Penrose, and Henry   The drawings in the current Gaudier-Brzeska ex-  I  welcomed Theo Crosby's contribution to the topic
       Moore there were also works by Graham Sutherland,   hibition at Victor Waddington come from the personal   'What kind of art education?', also those of Ken
       Robert Medley and Julian Trevelyan (a brilliant ex-  collection of Mr H. S. Ede, and the net funds from   Adams and Christopher Jones; but I would like to
      ample of Trevelyan's work dating from this period   sales will be given to The Kettle's Yard Foundation   take the matter a step further, and remind myself and
       has just been acquired by the Tate through the   destined for the University of Cambridge.   others interested in these contributions that art
                                                                                         education must stand or fall by a 'one to one' rela-
                                                Correspondence                           tionship between teacher and student. That, in so
                                                                                         far as learning takes place, it is only in the fusion of
                                                What kind of art education?              what he has to offer with what you have to offer. So
                                                                                         that if it is to be considered beneficial to bring
                                                Sir,                                     painters into contact with design students at some
                                                An answer to the question 'What kind of art educa-  stages in their training, or vice versa, both parties will
                                                tion?', hinges on one immediate and urgent premise:   benefit (if anything happens at all).
                                                that art training which has for its objective 'Good   Crosby's 'coherence and total involvement in society'
                                                designers' for commerce and industry, has nothing   can only be served by a multiplication of these experi-
                                                to do with art. We have to take an extreme stand on   ences. More threatening than any system of art
                                                this.                                    education which has so far been devised, to my
                                                The Bauhaus-oriented fallacy that such training   knowledge, is the abiding fascination which recipes
                                                makes artists, is exploding itself. Hence the con-  (tuned to the past, present and future; or to social
                                                tinuing enquiry—'What kind of art education?' The   need, even) hold for us; they are guaranteed to by-
                                                fallacy has conditioned art-school syllabuses for too   pass the relationship which this form of teaching
                                                long. It bodes well for art in this country that the quest   demands. There is too much doctrine in the business,
                                                goes on, although it seems that facilities and training   and cynicism in the student is the result.
                                                are ample for 'design-training'. The training in the   Before we touch on the conviction that should go
                                                physical mechanics of drawing, painting, sculpturing   into making a syllabus, or on broad aspects of plan-
                                                —with all the 'modern' aids by way of media, methods,   ning, should we not look harder at the nature of the
                                                means, thrown in—could hardly be bettered: while   process of learning, in art education?
                                                the 'break-down' of aesthetics suitable for art-  Yours faithfully,
       In a studio lately a visitor fell in love with a somewhat   student assimilation has created a body of work year   Shelley Fausset
      large landscape; drawing the artist's wife aside, he asked   by year, which might seem to render our question   Head of Pre-Diploma Department
       the price. 'Fifty pounds' staggered him, but recovering   rhetorical.             Central School of Art and Design
       himself as he returned to contemplate it, he said, 'I   But of course, the malaise from which, we feel, art   London, W.C.1
       can't buy it all, but I should like some of it. How much   is suffering, is not due to any lack of facilities and
       will your husband paint me for a five-pound note ?'   training. As a fact, it might well be said that it is
               From  The Lay Figure Speaks      suffering precisely from an overdose of these two   Imaginative cursiveness
                  June, 1893                    inhibiting dimensions in the training syllabus. What
                                                rather is required is a stiff injection of what I call in a   Sir,
       Forthcoming issues                       book I am preparing, the 'Nth Dimension'—that   You are a severer critic that I am. You write in my
                                                'Something' that has always invested the kind of Art   article, 'British Sculpture: the Developing Scene'
       The January issue will include an article by John   we seem to be 'nostalgic' for as we ask our question—  (October issue): 'Sheer cussedness can dominate the
       Berger comparing certain aspects of Poussin and   'What kind of art training?', and which still invests   imagination ....' No doubt it can; but then you go
       de Staël; 'Some notes on Kandinsky and the idea   only too small a proportion of 'works' coming before   on to give my example of sheer cursiveness, Francis
       of non-figurative art'; an article by Tom Hudson;   the public today: that same 'Something' which has   Morland's The Kiss. Censorship?
       an interview with Magritte; and commentaries from   defied philosophers for two thousand years to define,   Yours sincerely,
       France,- New York, and Argentina.        and which not even two hundred years of 'Post-   Gene Baro
                                                Baumgartenian Aesthetics has been able to isolate—  London, N.W.1
       The issue on kinetic art, originally scheduled for   much less dismiss or exorcise from its intellectual
       January, has had to be deferred to February.   consideration of the mystery of art.   (Mistake, not censorship. Apologies.—Ed.)
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