The History of Art Education Time Line 1920-1929
Decades of art education history in contexts of schooling and artworlds

  • The Harlem Renaissance begins. New African American art, literature and music brings new ideas and cultures to the United States, not only affecting African Americans but all of society. It was the beginnning of new artists and writers such as Palmer Hayden and Langston Hughes, who gained their popularity at the time.
  • Florence Cane, developed what is known as the scribble technique. This technique was introduced into the schools in the early twentieth century and it was also used by many therapists at this time. The scribble technique was supposed to produce spontaneous imagery coming from the unconscious. In addition, this would introduce creativity and individuality into the art classrooms of the schools.
  • Hermann Rorschach develops the Inkblot Test, a technique designed to reveal aspects of personality. It consisted of 10 cards, shown to an individual who would be asked to describe what he or she saw. Projective testing was based on the assumption that when someone was asked to describe an ambiguous stimulus, feelings and personality would be reflected in the answers. This particular test paved the way for later projective tests such as Buck's House-Tree-Person Test and Florence Goodenough's Draw-a-Man Test, all of which use concepts favored by art therapists for analyzing drawings.
  • Caucasian philanthropist William E. Harmon founds the Harmon Foundationwhich recognizes and assists African American Artists. This foundation encouraged African Americans to create art reflective of their culture. To achieve this goal, the foundation sponsored traveling exhibitions displaying these artists' works. Some examples of these African American artists included William H. Johnson, Meta Warrick Fuller, Hale Woodruff, Beauford Delaney, and Lois Mailou Jones. Most of the works in these exhibitions, by the African American artists, consisted of paintings and sculptures. These exhibitions gave Americans a first time look at the art of African Americans. The Harmon Foundation also supported the development and expansion of art education programs in schools. The foundation also provided financial assistance to African American students who planned to continue their education at colleges and art schools in the United States.
  • The Bauhaus, a government-funded fine arts school was founded in Berlin, Germany in 1919. In 1923, the Bauhaus directs its focus to industrialization in harmony with art. This new concept of art bonding with technology became a trademark of the Bauhaus artists, such as Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Josef Albers. This trend towards industry and craft tempted artists to experiment with new ways of creating art, as well as new ways of teaching art and architecture.
  • In 1924, Margaret E. Mathias wrote a book titled, The Beginnings of Art in the Public Schools (New York, 1924). The book dealt with important art education issues concerning art in kindergarten, first and second grade. This book was regarded as the first well-known art education book for primary school teachers. Miss Mathias also wrote Art in the Elementary School (1929) and The teaching of Art (1932).
  • Miss Marion Richardson taught at the Dudley Girls High School where she developed her "child-centered approach" to teaching art. She believed that it was important to give students encouragement and guidance rather than imposing taste and aesthetic judgements. She developed a progressive way of teaching art to children by encouraging her students to use memory and visual imagination in producing art works, through exercises like Mind Picturing, Word Picturing, Beauty Tours, Observation Studies, Experimental Studies and Pattern and Handwriting. Miss Richardson was also known as a painter and printmaker. The original woodcut titled Statue of Bartolomeo Coleoni, Lincoln Park, Newark is an example of her work.
  • After opening the Gustaf Britsch Institute for "Science of Art and Art Education", (Institut fur theorestische und angewandte Kunstwissenshaft on Theresienstrasse), Britsch composed his theory on art as a universal mental process. His theory stated that art was a function of the mind, regardless of the person's age, nationality, background, etc. His wife published his theory after his death.
  • On November 18, 1928, Walt Disney released Steamboat Willie, the world's first sound synchronized cartoon. The lead character, Mickey Mouse, became an American icon that is still a part of society's popular culture. This character helped create the Disney empire that exists today.
  • The Philadelphia Museum of Art becomes a permanent museum, benefitting education in the arts, increasing the number of programs offered, and leading to an expansion in the number of people able to see artworks in person.
  • On November 8, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City was opened to the public. Founded by Lillie P. Bliss, Mary Quinn Sullivan, and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, MOMA was the first museum to display works of modern art divided into six areas: architecture and design, drawings, film and video, painting and sculpture, photography, and prints and illustrated books. This world famous museum greatly contributed to the spread of the modern visual arts to a mass public.

The Museum of Modern Art, 1932
11 West 53rd Street, New York
  • In 1929, the Ohio School of the Air introduced radio art education to the United States. Prior attempts had been made to link art and radio but it was through the Ohio School of Air that art received academic acceptance by presenting subjects, including art over the airways. Art appreciation lessons were taught Tuesday afternoons from 1:53-2:10, by Henry Turner Bailey of the Cleveland Art Museum. Art over the radio was an important event because it showed that picture study still played an influential role in art education in the United States.

  • William G. Whitford, a professor of art education at the University of Chicago and author of the book titled An Introduction to Art Education (1929) portrayed art education history as a stream that meandered between fine arts and industrial arts. The chart was designed to show a center, vertical line representing the "Happy Medium" of all art training. The curving lines move from one objective of art training to another. Mr. Whitford also came up with four basic areas that an art curriculum should cover. These included drawing, design, construction and appreciation.