We’re closing out summer with a school-themed Image Universe feature.
It’s that time of year when students across the country are getting back into the swing of things at school.
Educational settings have often been captured by artists. Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, 1632, gives a peek into a time when human anatomy lessons took the form of annual public dissections in theaters filled with scholars, students, and the general public. You'll still see the image today in just about any Art History 101 course. With Educational Complex, 1995, Mike Kelly combined his personal memories of grade-school architecture with actual floorplans to create a rendering of a hybrid, fictionalized building that has been interpreted as the hallways of the artist’s mind.
Others have interrogated the ways that schools reinforce social hierarchies and political systems—including how arts schools teach who can be an artist and what art should look like. Alex Bag, T.J. Dedeaux Norris, and Jayson Musson—performing as Hennessy Youngman—all created video confessionals and tutorials to question the systems of approval that have created an exclusionary, and oftentimes discriminatory, art world. Bruce High Quality Foundation even created their own alternative school, BHQFU, which offered free, experimental classes outside of the university establishment.
Our new Image Universe highlights artists who use school supplies—like pencils and blackboard chalk—as materials or whose work questions the very nature of pedagogy and learning, as well as some fun pop culture staples. Get studying!