year 2018

7 x 7 Closer to the Art

“As a part of primary education, the art provides a unique opportunity: it does not expect a convergent thinking of pupils, which means that it does not expect them to learn a process and then apply it in practice, it expects them to find their own solutions."  Ladislav Čarný

Do the children that are fully developing their creative thinking and skills have an advantage over their contemporaries? Visual artist and teacher, Marián Mudroch believes that “children who attended primary art schools [and one could add, galleries, too] differ from those who did not. Perhaps it is also true of children doing sports. Attending a primary art school means doing something extra. The freedom in the art classes can be even irritating… you can contaminate children with the »infection« called the art.”

In the period of communism, from the mid-1970s to a revolutionary year of 1989, many members of today´s middle generation attended primary art schools (so-called people´s art schools). This period became a phenomenon, as many creative teachers were representatives of a progressive, however, unofficial art scene. In their works they did not conform to the requirements of so-called socialist realism, and so the gates of official exhibition halls remained closed to them. Many of them were engaged in teaching, which they considered to be more than just a job. In words of Igor Minárik: “We were keen on the possibility to make a fair living as teachers and at the same time we suspected that working with children and their creativity, cooperation between teacher´s and pupil´s creativity, would bring something very interesting.” Primary art schools as well as primary schools and eight-year gymnasiums fulfil the unique and irreplaceable role in the development of young people despite often complicated conditions they have to face. It is possible due to teachers – individuals who are fully aware of the importance of creating conditions for the development of creativity, which is necessary for every area of human life. Galleries as educational institutions significantly contribute to this process, as they allow for the development of visual literacy throug the connection with the world of art, which makes our everyday life richer and shows it in a new perspective. The project Closer to the Art, launched in 2006, follows in a long tradition of education through art at the Bratislava City Gallery (the beginning of so-called educational activities dates back to 1976 and between 1979 and 1993 the Gallery hosted the Gallery of a Child).

The project CLOSER TO THE ART has entered the seventh year. In the Bible, seven is a symbol of plenitude. Today the project can offer a “lexicon” of seven works by seven artists per every year (available on www.umeniezblizka.gmb.sk). The project contributes to the identification of values of 20th and 21st century Slovak fine art and to the support of creative thinking and skills of young people aged ten to fifteen years. Of course, the education through art is a long-term process, a “long-distance run”, which is hard to measure. The project allows the Bratislava City Gallery to leave its gates and bring visual art in the form of art reproductions and methodological materials to the schools all over Slovakia. But the project owes its existence maily to creative teachers and their pupils, many of who took part in all years of the project. Over the seven years the pupils from schools all over Slovakia interpreted – in artistic, multimedia, dramatic or literary form – the works by forty-nine artists. This year, the project offered the works by Ján Želibský, Janko Alexy, Andrej Barčík, Peter Bartoš, Peter Kalmus, Martin Sedlák, and Ivana Sláviková. In total, 77 schools took an active part in the project by delivering about 1,400 works. The exhibition at the Bratislava City Gallery presents 37 works, which are displayed next to the original works to which the young people responded.

Abandoning the initial stage of spontaneous children´s creativity, young artists search for new, original ways of visual reflection of the world, which, again, is a challenge for us, teachers. As Daniel Fischer put it (in response to the belief that at the age of about twelve years the children are experiencing a crisis of creativity), “I see it rather as a crisis of a teacher. This period actually presents various challenges for teachers. At this age, the rational, intellectual component of children’s personality is developing, even accelerating, and therefore it is necessary to formulate different tasks to address the newly developing potential.” Among the attempts to respond to this challenge is a long-term project of the Bratislava City Gallery titled Closer to the Art. You are cordially invited to take part and draw inspiration.

Daniela Čarná

The quotations used in the text come from the author´s interviews with the artists of unofficial art scene (Ladislav Čarný, Daniel Fischer, Vladimír Kordoš, Igor Minárik, Marián Mudroch, Dezider Tóth), who worked as teachers in primary art schools, with many of them being inspired by a personality of Rudolf Fila. 


ART FROME CLOSE-UP 01 - Beginning of the project
Children’s view of Slovak art of the 20th century
year 2006

Can be learning about and discovering art an adventure and fun? An educational project with the same name mediates art from close-up in a playful form to young people between 10 – 15 years of age. The City Gallery of Bratislava in that project symbolically steps out from its gates to bring straight into the schools Slovak fine art’s modern and contemporary artworks in the form of reproductions of works of art from the exposition of the art of the 20th century (100 Years of Reality) by Ľudovít Fulla, Cyprián Majerník, Ján Mathé, Július Koller, Igor Kalný, Roman Ondák and Dorota Sadovská. The aim of the project is to interconnect  modern and contemporary art, which young people usually do not have chance to meet regularly, with the actual world around us which is reflected by that art and it enables us to understand it deeper.

In the project ART FROM CLOSE-UP, which took place from the end of March until the end of June 2006, more than 330 primary schools, primary art schools and eight-years high-schools from the whole of Slovakia took part. On the base of seven sent reproductions size A4, containing information about the author and the artwork, proposals for discussions and creative activities the pupils under the leadership of teachers were creating their own interpretations in the frame of different humanity subjects. Their results were sent to us from more than 100 schools from different regions of Slovakia. From more than 2000 works a commission of art and gallery teachers chose 27 which are presented at the exhibition in the Pálffy’s Palace of the City Gallery of Bratislava. Artworks in the catalogue and special web page www.umeniezblizka.gmb.sk will enable a little wider overview of children’s interpretations.
The children’s works can be divided in a simple way into two categories: works sourcing from the interpreted artwork which keep the outer connection with it and those ones which are freely inspired by it. They show different approaches and possibilities of work with an art piece and possibilities of its use not only within the frame of the art lectures but also within subjects like Slovak, history, ethics or religion. For the realisation of the project itself was decisive active input of the teachers and support of the creative thinking of young people and their ability to create which is in different forms needed for every sphere of life. The joy from the creative process itself was the main part of the project; many times it was more important than the resulting artwork itself. During the project more of the schools visited the City Gallery of Bratislava or a gallery in their surroundings; they discussed, discovered and created their own views on art of the 20th century which they presented in the “galleries in the schools”.

The project ART FROM CLOSE-UPshows one of the forms of gallery education, which concentrates on mediation of art in the galleries and museums to different age categories in form of experience. It introduces art as an important part of our life which can offer unexpected possibilities of education, fun and creative activities.

                                                                                                                              Daniela Čarná

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