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Since the establishment of Europe's art academies - such as the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture in 1648 - European art (EuroArt) has had what we might call a scholarly focus. From the Renaissance to the 17th century, art schooling slowly became a practice of codifying and reproducing [tacit knowledges](Polanyi, M. (1966). The Tacit Dimension. Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday. ) (Polanyi, 1966) in ways that mirrored the High Scholasticism popular in European universities. EuroArt has continued to be taught predominately in an academic context since.
Collegia Mosaic buried in Pompeii in 79 CE
However, the business of codifying and reproducing artistic knowledges existed long before the establishment of Europe's art academies, and long before the Renaissance. For example, the workshop-apprenticeship models - found in C18th BCE Babylon, in Roman collegia, that were central to medieval government in Europe and Asia and which survive into the present-day - were precursors of art schooling. So, we would struggle to argue that art suddenly became educationally focused at a particular time. Art and learning how to make art go hand-in-hand. There are lots of different ways that we can learn how to make art (they are not exclusively 'academic'). What we might say is that there was a slow turn towards a scholastic model of artistic learning. The workshop-apprenticeship model didn't disappear, it was, rather, assembled or merged with the European (specifically Christian) scholastic model.
Journeymen setting out of their Wanderjahre, a year-long nomadic apprenticeship around Germanaphone Europe. Obenauf: Simon Kugler überwand nach dreieinhalbjähriger Wanderschaft das Ortsschild an der Holler Landstraße..
This development could be considered to be a 'turn', albeit a very slow one! We need to add the caveat that this turn isn't totalising; it doesn't eradicate what came before and it isn't followed everywhere.
The EuroArt Academy model has been successful in raising the status and wealth of artists and so has been reproduced globally; but it is by no means universal. Many countries have no equivalent of the Eurocentric Academies or are only now introducing such a model of art education alongside local learning practices. In countries with histories of genocide and epistemicide - e.g. Canada, Australia - art schools are decolonising their Eurocentric curricula, validating aboriginal programmes and building cultural centres. Moreover, the idea that art training is the same thing as 'academia' is not ubiquitous. For example, in Germany, 'academies' (Universität) and 'art schools' (Kunsthochschulen) are still very much separate educational domains.
Lodgepole Indigenous Resource Centre, Alberta College of Art & Design, Calgary/Elbow, Canada/Turtle Island.
Accepting the above caveats, can we say that there has been a paradigm shift towards the 'educational' in art? If so, what did that look like, and when/where, exactly, did it occur?
So that we have a common starting point, I'd like us all to engage with what Irit Rugoff - in 2008 - called 'the educational turn'; a shift of attention that became increasingly visible at the turn of the 21st century.
To start with, I would like us all to read Rugoff's influential text. The text is online (so is an OER). Read it and start to share your thoughts on it:
Irit Rugoff 'Turning' e-flux Journal #00 - November 2008 https://www.e-flux.com/journal/00/68470/turning/