Class at the Bauhaus started with special breathing exercises, then students turned to filling pages with minutely shaded parallel lines, perfect circles and unwavering spirals. The curriculum of this 1920s German art school has been cited as contemporary art education’s most important influence, yet its insistence on fundamentals skills would seem foreign to many arts students today: at Goldsmiths College in London, UK , developing artists may study “Post-Criticalities,” but not drawing. At Egypt’s MASS Alexandria Studio and Study program, there is no formal curriculum at all; students simply absorb the creative environment.
In Beijing, China, students at the Experimental Art Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts have taken to polling “average families” across China, instead of their professors, for art instruction. But their experimentation is preceded by practice; an emphasis on Bauhaus-style technical perfection and meticulous method is still essential to getting into Chinese art schools in the first place. So last year, approximately 800,000 Chinese high-schoolers dedicated themselves to “cram” classes in the fundamental painting, coloring and sketching techniques necessary to pass a pre-university qualifying exam, no matter what kind of art they plan to make in the future. Their technical boot camps usually last six long months, marked by 12-hour days of memorizing and practicing past years’ drawing test subjects, which range from “a bee collecting pollen” to “a furniture warehouse.”
From the pages of COLORS #87 - Looking at Art.