“What, After All, Is Art?”: The Perplexing Question and Art Education

By Alexandra Mouriki-Zervou and Antonis Vaos.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Art education literature has not given great deal of attention to that which constitutes the very content of art education, i.e. art. This reluctance to deal with art seems justified, given that there exists no overall accepted definition or interpretation of what art actually is. In this paper, we shall argue that, despite the difficulty, it is absolutely necessary to try to understand and reflect on the multidimensional and polyvalent phenomenon of art. We shall claim that without a deep understanding of the nature, the role and scope of art, the field of art education can not be adequately delineated. Without this understanding, questions about the kind of objects and values which should be studied within art education are held over, its content risks being hetero-defined and its special contribution underestimated.
Beginning with an understanding of art as a complex phenomenon, deeply implicated in historical and cultural transformations and changes, this paper argues for the necessity of a critical rethinking of art. We shall try to show that the question “what is art?” is a key question in order to draw attention to the multiplicity and the open nature of the artistic phenomenon, upon which our educational choices will be found. Our object is not to impose one and only answer as a unique and unwavering option, but to describe an educational condition which recognizes the multiple practices and the many points of view as parts of the organized activity and knowledge about art, while putting them under critical examination.

Keywords: Re-thinking Art, De-definition/Re-definition of Art, Art Interpretation, Aesthetic Experience, Art Education

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.129-138. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 600.075KB).

Dr. Alexandra Mouriki-Zervou

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Humanities and Social Studies, University of Patras, Athens, Greece

Alexandra Mouriki (Dipl. of Philosophy, University of Athens. Ph.D. in Philosophy of Art, University Paris I - Panthéon - Sorbonne) is Assistant Professor at the University of Patras, where she teaches Aesthetics, Art History and Art Pedagogies. Fields of interest and research: Philosophy of art, aesthetics and aesthetic education. Publications: She has published a book: Transformations of Aesthetics (Athens 2003), as well as several articles on art theory, aesthetics and aesthetic education. She has also translated essays of Merleau-Ponty and Paul Ricœur.

Dr. Antonis Vaos

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Humanities and Social Studies, University of Patras, Patras, Greece

Antonis Vaos was born in Milos Island –Greece. He studied Fine Arts in Rome and he earned his Ph.D. from the Panteion University in Athens. He is presently teaching as an Assistant Professor at the University of Patras, Early Childhood Education Department (Art Education). He has published two books on Aesthetic Education and Art Education in Greece, as well as several articles on art pedagogies and aesthetic education. He has also presented his work in various exhibitions in Greece and abroad.

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