Masters and Pupils
The modern-day art school in Asia, based on European models, is a symbol of the changes experienced in the region over the last century from feudal societies to meritocracies, where access to education by an increasingly larger group underpins the transformation to modern, open and (mostly) democratic cultures. The history of these art schools with their dominant leaders, their various focus — based on different perceptions of art practice and individual power, their responses to and role in local politics, their star students and staff and their rise and fall — have been very important throughout the region.
The growth of public teaching institutions and their central role in the artistic life of most countries of the region have been collapsed into a much shorter time-frame than in Europe. The new European-derived schools started early in Japan, the Philippines, India and Australia, and in turn gave those societies strong bases from which to leverage general support of the visual arts. Other countries followed in their own unique ways.
This chapter explores some key issues in this story: particularly, the reasons why a school was established, by whom, and the consequences of this, and the ongoing argument about teaching local or foreign (Western) traditions. It also covers the importance of the infrastructure of the school to the arts community, it being the only institution existing that supported artists in any way. Even when there was a revolt against the (frequent) conservatism of such a school, younger artists rebelled against the internal workings rather than more widespread sentiments. The art school was a focus of the arts establishment and a symbol of wider society control.
KeywordsLocal Tradition Painting Technique Chinese Painting Young Artist Nude Model
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