Modernist teaching methods

A paradigm shift

The chapter featured in this Post is about the paradigm shift in artists thought that took place in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and some of its consequences in terms of the Modernist teaching methods that were to emerge in the twentieth century.

CHAPTER 3 – “Arrival of Modernism”

modernist teaching
Berthe Morisot: Young woman on a couch showing a revolution in the use of feeling based brushwork.
Modernist teaching
One of Edgar Degas most revealing Modernist pronouncements was that: “it is always very well to copy what you see, but much better to draw what only the memory sees. Then you get a transformation, in which imagination works hand in hand with the memory and you reproduce only what has particularly struck you.”

Other background reading for Modernist teaching

It will help to have read the previous chapter, which has already been published as a Post, since this describes the context from which Modernist teaching emerged, not only in terms of specific traditional practices but also in terms of the academic system as a whole, against which the young Modernist Painters set their face.

Chapter 2: Traditional artistic practices

At the same time as publishing Chapter 3, I will be making Chapter 4 available as a separate Post. Its title is “The sketch and the feel system”. This builds on Chapter 3 by focusing on the sketch as a link between old and new ways. Also, the fact that making sketches involves sensing relations between elements provides the opportunity to define and explain what I mean by the “Feel-System”. Doing so is of importance, because it plays such key role in subsequent chapters and because it helps to explain the title, “Drawing with Feeling”, which I chose for the book as a whole.



This Post is the first of two that I will be publishing in time for the July 22 – August 5 session of the Painting School of Montmiral. In this way it will also be ready for my experimental “Life Drawing” week in Norfolk, which is scheduled for later in August. As it is holiday time, I will be taking a break from Posts during August and will not start again until some time after 7th September, which will be my 80th birthday.

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4 thoughts on “Modernist teaching methods”

  1. It’s hard to imagine the feelings experienced by professional artists in the days of the newly invented camera. All the questions Francis lists that came out of the ensuing “despair” must have taken a very long time and many cafe and pub discussions to evolve into the period of Modernist Art – and thank god the great artists of those days were willing and able to pursue a new path for their work.

  2. Francis mentioned in a conversation that Japanese art came into the awareness of the artists of those days through the development of international trade. I would love to read more about how that influenced the old “rules” of painting and the movement into the Modernist period.

  3. I see (above) I read this chapter almost EXACTLY two years ago today. My comments are the same: “thank you and really helpful”. EXCEPT THAT today they are EVEN MORE helpful to me as I work on my own to capture a view I am studying and eventually hope to paint. This information is concretely helpful to me, working alone during lockdown, to explore my hand and my eye, and to trust and be patient with my own journey.

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