The Problem of Artistic Form and the Objectives of Fine Arts Pedagogy

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The widespread tendencies in art to focus on the expression of subjective attitude to an event rather than on accurate depiction of an object have led to an increasingly strong opinion that basic academic literacy has lost its former practicality. Art pedagogy theory often treats the classical and modern education methods as the opposites. Traditional education is claimed to be incompatible with the resolution of modern creative questions, and the instruction methods of the past are seen as outdated and unnecessary. Such contrasting of “the old and the new” fails to consider the existence of a common pillar, of the main illustrative and interpretative objective, which is instrumental in providing the artistic meaningfulness equally to object-based or object-less art forms. The need to establish a necessary common ground, to resolve that universal fundamental problem at the very beginning of any educational journey, becomes therefore overlooked. This author’s argument for the importance of treating such a common objective as a pedagogic cornerstone is based on selected conceptual themes from the works of A. Hildebrand and G. Wölfflin, two classics of art criticism. It is hereby attempted to demonstrate the existence of certain fundamental principles, indispensable for any of the pedagogic schools. In particular, A. Hildebrand pointed out the importance of the “distance seeing”, which reveals the necessary general identifying impression given by an event or an object, leading to seeing them as a whole, uniting all the separate parts of their image. Classical academic and contemporary schools, in relation to this global ability, differ only in their means of expression, and the argument between them appears to have no ground. Such conclusions are in agreement with the stand of G. Wölfflin, a distinguished art historian and critic. In his studies of the historic development of art form from objective clarity to subjective relative clarity of the objective sphere, he showed that we are dealing here with methodological variations rather than with different views on the core pedagogical values. Different schools of art, and both modern and traditional approaches to art education have therefore a common ground: forming of holistic vision in the student. It is important to keep in mind that, depending on their type of artistic thinking, some students would be able to better reach this goal within the framework of the academic school, and others, on the contrary, while mastering modern forms of art.

Sveshnikov Alexandr V

Doctor of Art Studies, Professor, Full Professor at the Department of Fine Arts, VGIK.


Author for correspondence.


  1. Вёльфлин Генрих. Основные понятия истории искусств. Проблема эволюции стиля в новом искусстве. - М.: Изд-во В. Шевчук, 2002. - 344 с.
  2. Гильдебранд А. Проблема формы в изобразительном искусстве. - М.: Изд-во МПИ, 1991. -137 с.

Copyright (c) 2016 Sveshnikov A.V.

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