WHY SHOULD WE EDUCATE IN ART AND CULTURE?

Even today, finishing the second decade of the 21st century, the need to educate in art and culture is still an open topic of debate. It is commonly thought that the culture, to whose creation we all contribute, arises by spontaneous generation and does not need maintenance or attention. But on the contrary, culture as a social phenomenon, and art, as one of its particular tangible manifestations, requires the contribution of all. It only takes true meaning when there is a conscious exchange between the historical and identity legacy that culture transmits and the new uses and meanings of value that modern societies attribute to it. Well understood, culture does not need many resources to develop, since, as a social phenomenon, it will emerge and grow wherever there are individuals. But what it is necessary to do is "educate" in the importance and value that culture has per se, because without this educational work there is a destruction of the past, a depreciation of the heritage created over centuries and a loss of the close referents which give meaning to our contemporary society.

Image from Educathyssen

Far from what one might think, educating in art and culture is much more than learning history and artistic techniques. Art is an expression that emerges in a specific context, and, as such, transmits a large part of the elements that determine the culture of that particular time and place. It would be difficult to think that the Renaissance creators reflected in their works the concern for climate change, as they now do, or that the new authors capture with the same zeal religious scenes that were the favourite leitmotiv of the painting of yore. For this reason, to accommodate art and culture in the classroom is to channel a collective knowledge developed over the centuries that constitutes the best vestiges of our identity as individuals belonging to a particular context.

Unesco has pointed out that the mastery of culture and the arts is fundamental for the development of people. For this same reason, it encourages designing educational programs that incorporate these branches of knowledge. The benefits are diverse: education in art fosters alternative thinking and the search for creative solutions to problems, favours qualities such as tolerance and sensitivity, helps diversity to be appreciated and to open an intercultural dialogue, as well as developing other intellectual and creative abilities of the individual.

«Each child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we have grown up»

Pablo Picasso

Why is art still seen as something reserved for a few? In the same way that other disciplines equally necessary for development, such as sports activities, associated with collaborative values ​​and psychomotricity, art and culture, require the same attention. In recent years, several voices have highlighted the benefits associated with training in art from early ages. More than a matter of convenience, it is, in reality, an essential content for the development that will go along the individual in different stages of life. Concepts so demanded in the modern business world as creativity, imagination or innovation, are based on stimuli taught from childhood. Nowadays, intelligence and the use of qualities are not limited exclusively to being proficient with language and mathematics. The promotion of alternative thinking and the solution of ingenious problems, with their well-known applications in the world of entrepreneurship, are intimately associated with art training.

Image from educathyssen

Several studies suggest a change of approach when incorporating arts into education. The benefits are innumerable and alter the preconceived and inherited schemes even today on the permanent search for accuracy in the results, typical of subjects such as mathematics. The unpredictable essence of artistic creation helps to develop critical thinking and generate alternative ways of reasoning. The ideas of right and wrong are blurred, and there is room for means of expression that favour new structures of logical discourse. There is no single form of intelligence, and it is clear that the integration of art and culture in the learning process is necessary. Hopefully, this gradual awareness will translate into the incorporation of new tools and educational resources from childhood. It is only possible to love and understand what is known.

 

Buying the first work of art always instils respect. A difficult feeling to define that mixes vertigo with adrenaline. But over uncertainty and caution, a pleasurable sense of connection, understanding, and desire prevails. That work that, once seen, stays in the mind, reappears in the memory several times a day and seems to tell you that it is willing to be part of your home, is the perfect candidate to make the decision.

In the first steps, many collectors do point out that one does not start from an established plan, but rather that one acquires pieces based on taste and the connection one feels with them until, after time, they realise that the volume of works that accumulates can be labelled as a "collection". For example, this is how Alicia Aza explains it:

“I was not aware that I was collecting until many years later when a third party named me as a collector and talked about my collection. In 2005, I became aware of what collecting means and decided to articulate a collection with an identity of criteria and formats”.

Marcos Martín Blanco, co-founder, with his wife Elena Rueda, of the MER Collection, shares this same opinion:

“Collecting has been a passion, driven by a visceral state that encourages you to do so. The collection, in terms of acquisitions, has not been particularly complicated because, let's face it: it is easy to buy because they are all beautiful things and you have some clear idea of where you want to go, but at first those preferences were not so clear. It is with the time that a criterion is being formed”.

It is not always this way, of course, but for the buyer who starts out on this path, the personal connection that entails the first piece is essential. There it is the germ of a lasting relationship that is not limited to a simple aesthetic question but is an open window to knowledge, to exploration, to a world that is often unknown to us and awakens our fascination. The seed of that connection is purely sentimental, and it is precisely this impulse that determines the first acquisitions. The first piece is never forgotten.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Ana Maqueda

Exceeding the usual recommendations made by advisers and agents, rare is the occasion when the art lover decides to buy by pure investment. These paths usually open later, when the volume of pieces is large enough. In addition, there are those who are a bit against this classic concept of the traditional collector, approached from an eccentric, elitist and little accessible vision. On the contrary, art buyers are, above all, art lovers, sentient beings and permeable to creative stimulus who, at a given moment, decide to deepen the relationship they already have with art to take a piece home.

It is not that hard to overcome that small psychological barrier that turns the visitor into a buyer if one approaches the matter from a more personal and intimate perspective than from social consideration. Small-format works, graphic work or serial photography are of great help for this, whose price range, generally more affordable, allows a closer comparison to the daily basis expenses. In this way, the purchase of art falls within the range of feasible activities and becomes something close and possible.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Marc Cisneros

At that moment, a different relationship with art begins, based on pure experience and coexistence with the acquired piece. Perhaps it can be seen as an act of daring, but on many occasions, it is more a matter of necessity and transformation. Collectors also agree that the acquisition of an artwork is an exercise on personal analysis and opening up to a new field of knowledge that was previously alien to us. Alicia Aza explains that the reason she acquired her first piece of video art, by Sergio Prego, is because she did not understand it and because she saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to self-improve. This open window to knowledge creates new connections and bonds with creators, as one of the most fascinating parts of the process. Candela Álvarez Soldevilla explains that

"I think the most interesting thing in the art world is talking to artists. They are people with a special sensitivity to listen and understand.”

And Alicia Aza also says:

"I can share the satisfaction of being able to count on many artists in my circle of close friends today, and that is a long way to go."

Thus, with works that seem acceptable within the horizon of expenses that each one considers affordable, it is easy to find a piece that catches us. Since then, our home also evolves into a space in which art has a permanent place and presence, and there is no doubt that this transforms us inside.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Henar Herguera

Jaime Sordo, owner of Los Bragales collection and founder of the 9915 Contemporary Art Collectors Association, has always defined his relationship with art as a true passion and a vital necessity. For buyers who start on this path, he has the following recommendation:

“It is an essential condition that they feel the need to live with their passion to enjoy the works. Another very important aspect is that before making decisions for purchases, they are informed, so it is necessary to read specialised newspapers and books, visit exhibitions and museums and a lot of contact with galleries, which is an important and very specific source of information of the artists they represent. Finally, the presence in national and international art fairs. All this generates information and training.”

Indeed, fairs have become a good place for discovery because they condense a wide offer and allow diverse and global contact in a concentrated way. For this reason, many new generation buyers start in the context of an event such as Art Madrid, whose closeness and quality constitute a unique opportunity to meet, soak up and feed the passion for art.

(*) quotes taken from various interviews published in public media between 2013 and 2019.