We sought to identify the cultural debates, institutional solutions, and practices in the context of Arts Education and training in Portugal after the end of the XVIII century. Providing a critical approach to the ways in which the school shaped and mobilized itself to supply the arts student with the cognitive tools and instrumental techniques that would enable him to produce artifacts, thereby constituting himself as an artist capacitated to intervene upon the world–we contrast this to regular education, in which the student traditionally plays the role of a translator of stabilized scientific truths. By assuming a strong methodological commitment with genealogy, as stated in the first part of this text, rather than produce a history of arts education in Portugal since 1780 with the establishment of Casa Pia de Lisboa, we aimed to both identify and discuss the meanings of various historical mutations involved in a complex social operation that we still recognize: the transformation of pupil into artist.
Focusing on three related dynamics of the romantic imagery, namely Genius, Status and Inventiveness, we aimed to denaturalize the place of arts within education of the pupil in contemporaneity. Our empirical approach starts with discussing the concept of Genius, considered both a technology of government, and a category of making up people. Secondly, Status enters as we consider the strains and fractures inscribed in the nature of both the mission and the supply of “specialized” arts education. Thirdly, we explore the notion of Inventiveness regarding the analysis of discourses establishing a direct relationship between the learning process and internal modifications of the self. As demonstrated, the growing development of the artist’s state as a state of exception historically created an incompatibility with art as a teachable subject within school and a rigid frontier between the artist and the artisan, whereas art education as originally addressing the social margins was forgotten.