Teaching the Intangible: Methodologies and Dilemmas in Teaching Abstraction as a Formal Unit in a Painting Course

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"Abstraction" is a term commonly used by both educators and art students to contextualise the theoretical and visual aspects of a work of art. When an elective in a painting course is titled "Abstraction" many theoretical dilemmas may occur in its presentation. During the teaching of just such an elective the problem of situating notions of Abstraction as a multi-faceted theoretical concept within the practical setting of a painting studio-based subject presented both teachers and students with a series of conundrums. Accordingly, class discussions and exercises were devised for students to explore the nature of Abstraction, both in relation to their own practice and in the context of contemporary art practice and it's relation to history. This presentation will outline the theoretical concerns expressed by both students and staff in the completion of a formalised unit of study titled Abstraction and is to include examples of student work and opinions arising from the class.


Keywords: Contextualising, Teaching, Abstraction, Contemporary Painting, Course
Stream: Art and Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr Phil Edwards

Lecturer, Painting Dept
School of Art, RMIT

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

I have a multi-disciplined art practice that includes painting, installation and sound production. I have been exhibiting locally for approximately 20 years. I am particularly interested in the hybridity and interlinking of seemingly disparate art practices. I have been a lecturer in Painting for nine years at RMIT University and am currently the co-ordinator of third year in the Bachelor of Fine Arts Painting Course. I was responsible for the introduction of Abstraction as an elective subject over 6 years ago in the Painting course structure of RMIT university. My particular interests in art education are how we, as educators, contextualise historical concerns within a contemporary framework. My PhD was investigation into the Production of Audio CDs within a Contemporary Painting practice. Over the last two years my own practice has been predominately an investigation into abstraction and drawing.

Ref: A07P0070