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Teaching abstraction?: Art historical and sociological perspectives on Nils Wedel and the basic form course at Slöjdskolan in Gothenburg, Sweden 1946–1957
Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, History and Theory of Art.
2015 (English)In: Konsthistorisk Tidskrift, ISSN 0023-3609, E-ISSN 1651-2294, Vol. 84, no 4, 205-219 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

From the perspective of art history and sociology, this article investigates the artist Nils Wedel (1897–1967) and his position as head teacher to the department of decorative painting at the art and design school Slöjdskolan in Gothenburg 1938–1953. The article argues that the recruitment of Wedel can be seen as a strategic outcome of combination of his deviant interest in abstract art (compared to his more successful expressionist contemporaries) and his modest career. Supporting his family as a graphic designer, he was, due to his abstract “inclinations”, isolated from the dominant networks of Francophile and well-tempered expressionist art in Stockholm and Gothenburg in the 1930s and 1940s. However, this homology of aesthetic and social characteristics that positioned him in the margins of contemporary Swedish art made him the perfect teacher to meet the increased demand in Sweden in the late 1930s for art and design artists tuned to modernist idioms and skilled in professional methods of visual design. In commercial work in visual imagery, such as advertisements, shop window displays, or even carpet design, abstraction had become fashionable by the early 1930s. Wedel's introduction of a basic form course in 1946 can be seen as a pedagogical confirmation of this attraction of modernist idioms. In the geographical, social and aesthetic periphery, it was possible to build a pedagogical setting that introduced students to the then historical avant-garde of abstract art and modern idioms while also training skills valuable for a commercial career. © 2015 The Author(s)

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 84, no 4, 205-219 p.
National Category
Art History
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-28188DOI: 10.1080/00233609.2015.1059883ISI: 000366917200001OAI: diva2:851155
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, P10-0651:1
Available from: 2015-09-03 Created: 2015-09-03 Last updated: 2016-01-15Bibliographically approved

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