Teaching Painting: Painting the New

Activity: Organising a conference or workshopParticipating in a conference or workshopResearch


Resurfacing the past: art-historical baggage, painting and pedagogy

Writing in 1766, the German philosopher Gotthold Ephraim Lessing would famously assert that literature, rather than painting was an art of time. However, even a cursory examination of the latter will reveal the medium’s indelible connections with chronology, time and tense. Whether it is from the standpoint of its technical history, where, for example, pentimenti denoted the first or initial layer of a painting, or instances whereby artists have looked towards, if not directly borrowed from historical precedent, painting remains a fundamentally time-based medium.

With this in mind, and within the context of contemporary painting, Laura Hoptman, writing in the exhibition catalogue that accompanied The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World at MoMA in 2015 has claimed that “what attracts artists to painting at a time when digital technology offers seemingly limitless options with less art-historical baggage is precisely its art historical baggage…”

Given Hoptman’s contention, the proposed paper will seek to examine the importance of this so-called art-historical baggage to painting and the means by which it can be incorporated within those pedagogies, both practical and theoretical, that centre upon the teaching of painting. Specifically, and with reference to relevant examples, including the work of Maria Lalić, Lisa Yuskavage, Johannes Phokela and William Daniels, “Resurfacing the past: art-historical baggage, painting and pedagogy” will examine how such ‘baggage’ can play a vital role in the development of a student’s practice.

Against a backdrop of artistic practices that are characteristic of the so-called “historiographic turn,” an approach to art making that has encompassed strategies of, inter alia, excavation, re-enactment and memorialization (but as such have notably been to the exclusion of painting), the proposed paper will seek to examine those pedagogies, or aspects therein, that take place within the studio and the seminar room that encourage students to consider and critically examine painting’s relationship to its manifold histories.

Cognisance of such histories, it will be argued, facilitates criticality and fluency within the student and the means by which the ‘new’ can both be ‘resurfaced’ and given material form.

Period19 Jun 2018
Event typeConference
LocationLondonShow on map