CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


Schedule of Session 20.pdf


Schedule of Session 20.jpg

Changes in art and art history education have always been linked to diverse purposes (aesthetic, political, religious, historical, etc.) settled by the artistic communities within different societies and cultures, as well as to the development of scientific and technological knowledge and devices.

In Western tradition, art education has shown to be a complex but also flexible field by which aesthetic theories, concepts and methods applied in artistic practices can be traced: from a pyramidal guild educational structure mostly based in secret knowledge and skills in Medieval times, to the gradual opening of artist ́s workshops in Modern times, the insertion of the painting and sculpture as part of the Liberal arts, or the powerful arousals of the academies by the 17th century. It ́s worth saying that there are also disparities between European practices concerning these issues, and the way they were performed in the Americas, especially during the so called Colonial period, where professional and non-professional art education evidence blurred limits in many regions.

As for Eastern traditions, in China non-professional art education is probably, if not more, at least as important as the professional one. So called high art was limited to the group of literati (specially before Ming Dynasty). Within Chinese tradition, non-professional artistic creation and appreciation (painting, calligraphy, literature, poetry, music and other high arts) were part of basic training for literati , as a way of practicing Dao. By 19th century the art education reformers in China, introduced not only the Western art, but also the Western art education system in order to build from the foundation a new nation to pair with the West. This initiative has greatly influenced the direction of Chinese art, until today. 

As for Western aesthetics and art history ́s writing and teaching, theories and methods advanced from a biographic and teleological history based in progress and in the domain of illusionary mimesis of reality. The hegemony and survival of Classical styles, the problem of meaning (iconography) and the question on how to define certain forms and styles through the creation of categories, have been within the main traditional topics for centuries. In China, the literati non-professionalartists had the absolute authority over art and art theory. They praise highly the artworks with pure ink painting language. This taste turns the strokes and ink into the most unique and the most attractive elements of Chinese painting, which dominated the artistic critique and art history writing for centuries. During the 20th century, the practice of Western art education mode introduced new critical criterions, which changed the face of Chinese art.

The advent of the “information era” within the 20th and 21st centuries is definitely challenging all these statements, and –what seems more interesting- producing new “communicatingvessels” between East and West. The intimate relationship between art, science and technology, the promotion of international networks, the place of interdisciplinarity, artist’s involvement in local, regional and world’s political, economic and ecological subjects, the ongoing development of visual media and digital technologies, the intersection and connection between senses (visual, audition, smelling, etc) and the arousal of new industrial materials to be combined with new uses and meanings of traditional and non-traditional ones, among other topics, appear to be today at the center of a global discussion, which exceeds geographical and cultural frontiers.

As a consequence, art and art history and aesthetic education are facing similar situations and challenges all around the world, although may be with different solutions. On the other hand, new artistic concepts, environments (from the ateliers to the scientific labs) and methods, together with new models of communication and transmission, demand new specialized art education, which of course also affects the development of art history discourses.

This session, therefore, intends to discuss these and other aspects, putting an accent in confluences and disparities between Eastern and Western traditions, in order to promote a fluid and deep dialogue between the participants, that will guide us to new conclusions and perspectives.