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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Blindfolded Visions: The Creeping Hegemony of Avant Garde Aesthetics

Anna M. Kindler, David Pariser.


The battle between those who appreciate and extol avant garde art and members of the naive public who doggedly persist in consuming artworks that are neither 'transgressive' nor 'problematic' has been joined now for a century or more. Since the Parisian Salons Des Refusees it has been clear to members of the avant garde that both the naive public and the conservative forces in the art establishment really don't know what good art is all about. Art teachers - as the vanguard of cutting edge artistry the world over report resistance among their pupils to the icons of avant garde aesthetics - and an equal readiness on the part of students to accept the easy pleasures that characterize much of what passes for 'contemporary visual culture'. How solidly is this 'great divide' established? Is it culturally constructed? What else, other than cultural prerogatives might contribute to its durability? Could there be a biological basis for the existence of such a persistent gulf between the cognoscenti and the aesthetically uninformed?

Our completed cross-cultural research (Kindler, Pariser & van den Berg, 2000) now provides us with a basis for addressing the above questions. In our study (Kindler, Pariser & van den Berg 2001, 2002) we collected some 2400 drawings from children, adolescents and adults, some with art training and others without. A sample of all drawings collected was judged by 240 people from three countries. These judges (children and adults, some with art training and others without) indicated the relative merits of the drawings by sorting them. Thus we have statistical information that helps to illustrate our key points. Additionally, we interviewed each of the 240 judges in our study giving us verbatim explanations and rationales for the judges' aesthetic preferences.

Presenters

Anna M. Kindler  (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China)
Dean
School of Creative Arts, Sciences and Technology
The Hong Kong Institute of Education

Dr. Anna M. Kindler is a Professor and Dean of the School of Creative Arts, Sciences and Technology at The Hong Kong Institute of Education. Her research interests include artistic development, social cognition of art, museum education, multiculturalism, and cross-cultural research and she has published widely in these areas. Her work in teacher education has focused on problem-based learning and creativity in the classroom. She has been a member of editorial and review boards of major international journals and research granting agencies and served as Vice-President of the Canadian Society for Education through Art. She is also a practising artist focusing on the medium of photography.


David Pariser


Concordia Univeristy


Keywords
  • Art
  • Aesthetics
  • Art Education
  • Culture



(30 min Conference Paper, English)