Controversies in Higher Artistic Education in Porto 1950 to 2012: from ESBAP to the Faculty of Architecture and Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto

The history of the institutions, today part of the University, dedicated to training in architecture and fine arts have anchors that extend for more than two centuries. There is, however, a recent period where nuclear ‘reforms’ were promoted and established the present configuration of the Faculty of Architecture (FAUP) and the Faculty of Fine Arts (FBAUP), both from the University of Porto. It was in this period (1950 -2012) that their institutional settings, educational policies and mission, and practices to promote learning and effecting their training projects and research were established. If it is certain that there is no school of art without an idea of what the teaching and research that is practiced there embodies, the truth is that relating to the schools of art of Porto, the story is yet to be written, although we have to signal the international relevance that the School of Architecture of Porto acquired. With this project we intend to initiate a large work on the history of the three institutions that are the subject of study, producing knowledge about what might and will be a school of art in the 21st century.

In over fifty years of the study now being proposed elapsed debates and controversies relevant to the study of the history of art education in Portugal, which allow us to understand the dilemmas of the current art education with its passage to higher education in the 50’s of the 20th century, and since the coming century, with the University entrance. The Bologna reform also brings other problems, particularly with the response that the art is also called to give to the policies of efficiency and excellence of academic institutions, mainly in terms of what is now being called artistic research.

The study period is also of profound changes in terms of national politics, and where there are, in architecture and the arts, relevant artistic movements in which the schools and their teachers have particular intervention.

Considering the importance of this period, and the possibilities of establishing a research project that, on the one hand, identifies, analyzes and organizes the documentation produced and, on the other hand, collects and analyses life histories and biographical narratives of some of the main protagonists, it is intended that this study will constitute an important contribution to the construction of a history of institutions that go beyond the written documents, allowing the collection and preservation of evidence/data on the experiences and the ‘unwritten’, about the memories and representations of the different protagonists about the events experienced and the meanings attributed to them / by them, and which constitute essential elements for the understanding of key moments and controversies that marked the passage of artistic teaching of visual arts to higher education (1950) until today. The year of exploratory work will be devoted to a mapping of the teachers who moved from Higher School of Fine Arts (ESBAP) to FBAUP and FAUP, proceeding to filtering those whose relevance in the unfolding history of the institutions was remarkable. A first incursion into the archive of FBAUP and FAUP, already performed, returns us a universe of more than two hundred teachers. It is needed, therefore, to identify those whose testimonies are relevant to be collected.

The project aims to create knowledge about the concepts of art education and art dominant throughout the second half of the 20th and early 21st centuries, the figures and their ideas about art and the art teaching, the scholarship and the admission in the academic activity and artistic periods of greatest controversy, which mark the dominant interests and the antagonistic, and the challenges facing the struggles and the movements of alienation. This will result in a publication of narratives and histories of life with critical analysis of these discourses, intersecting the history of these institutions with the possibilities opened by oral history. It is also planned to carry out a documentary film from the material gathered.

The team consists of PhD researchers who have carried out work in the field of arts education and its history, memories of work and life stories. It also includes young researchers and two Grant Holders (BI).

Project Coordinator(s) José Carlos de Paiva
Start - End Date 2013-10 / 2014-10