Art Education And Its Social Context

L.S. Lowry

R.B.A., R.A.

Art Education And Its Social Context

As long as the arts have been in existence, audience members, artists, and performers have been educated for their roles. Every culture has devised ways to select and prepare individuals to engage in these roles. Here is information about the teaching of visual art throughout the history of education, both before and after public education came upon the scene.

The ways these techniques are taught today were conditioned by the beliefs and values regarding this field. The degrees and values regarding this tentative field were held by those who advocated its teaching in the past. Many of these early supporters were socially powerful individuals who influenced the educational policies of their day. For them, the teaching of this subject was neither capricious nor accidental, but rather it was done to further social, moral, and economic aims.

A sense of elitism clings to the teaching of the visual art. Many schools regard this line of study as a special subject to be pursued by a privileged or talented few. However, for one to understand how these attitudes arose, one must get a glimpse of the beginnings of education in Western culture. Nonetheless, the study of the teaching this technique is important in linking its role in education today.

A central issue in education of this technique, as in general education, is access to instruction. In very early times this technique was either learned through group rituals that were the integral part of worship or taught to a selected few through arduous apprenticeship. While some societies regarded knowledge of this field as the privilege of social elite, others thought that the practice of visual arts was fit only for slaves and the children of artisans.

With the rise of universal literacy, in the 19th century, the first tentative efforts to introduce arts and music into public education began in spite of objections from segments of the public. Their introduction was often described as educational reform. This was a privilege bestowed by the school on the young as part of a free public education. However, having a privileged status exacts its social costs. It removed this subject from the realm of necessities.

As this history unfolds, it is clear that that the teaching of this field was organized within a series of institutional settings. In the Middle Ages, it was controlled by the higher clergy, who served as the patrons, educators, and sometimes the artists themselves. By the high Middle Ages, education in this subject, was regulated by the craft guides.In the 19th century, working class women in Europe could study how to apply this technique in decoration. On the other hand, the study of fine arts, except under highly unusual circumstances, was for men. Therefore, throughout the history of education of this field, access of instructions was affected by class, gender, and the general social status of the subject of study.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was the secular court that sponsored artists to academies, and music then taking form. In current times, instructions in this field are transmitted through a complex network of formal and informal institutions. These may include professional art schools, museums and museum schools, publications, the mass media, and compulsory schooling. Instruction is available for the amateur and professional, in private classes with one student and in group classes of all sizes. Great diversity characterizes access to this subject today, but this was not always the case.

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wildlife artist David Shepherd,
William Russell Flint whose signed prints and paintings are highly valued.
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