The History of Art Education Time Line 1950-1959
Decades of art education history in contexts of schooling and artworlds

  • If I Ran The Zoo was published by Random House publishing company,New York. Its author and illustrator, Ted Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, had been turned down many times before this date because of the sometimes violent illustrations. Dr. Seuss went on to create such books as The Cat and the Hat, 1957, and Green Eggs and Ham, 1960. Along with writing children's books, Geisel was a political cartoonist, advertising illustrator, and documentary filmmaker.
  • Yves Klein, a Frenchman, sought to guide the world into a new "Age of Space", where "spirit" would exist free from form, objects would levitate, and personalities would travel liberated from the body. Klein brought new concepts into the art world by bringing signature elements that opened up minds to view art, not only as pictures but also as feelings. Children's drawings were now viewed as more than just blobs of paint; they were analyzed on a deeper psychological basis. This new theory made adults challenge the notion of "normal art" and become more susceptible to new and different ideas.
  • In the spring, Archie Bray took his first step into creating his dream by building The Pottery on a brickyard that he had inherited in Helena, Montana. The purpose of the Archie Bray Foundation, in the eyes of Bray himself, was to "make available for all who are seriously interested in the Ceramic arts, a fine place to work." Here artists learned to use clay "loosely and freely." To date, the studio has had more than 200 visiting artists, from all parts of the world.
  • In Topeka, Kansas, Linda Brown, a third grader, has to walk one mile across a railroad switchyard to get to the black elementary school, while there is a white school only seven blocks away. The Brown family, along with twelve other families, heads to the Supreme Court to argue over the biases in the local schooling system. The case, Brown v. Board of Education, was the first segregation case to make it to the Supreme Court. On May 17, Chief Justice Earl Warren announces the Court ruled that separate educational facilities were inherently unequal. The Court also issued its enforcement decree for the desegregation of schools all across America. Although it will take years for the decree to be fully implemented, it is a huge step towards equality.
  • Under pressure of church and school organizations, the comic publishing industry self-created censorship guidelines, known as The Comics Code, are put into effect. Parents felt this code would help end juvenile delinquency. Teachers hoped it would lead to less distractions in school and keep children from being exposed to alternative art forms that would clash with the school's art curriculum.
  • "I could never convince the financers that Disneyland was feasible because dreams offer too little collateral," mused Walt Disney. His dreams turned into reality when Disneyland was opened on Sunday, July 17 in Anaheim, California. The design of the park involved much detailed planning, which was done by Disney and a large team of studio designers. The park now offers ways for both children and adults to learn the art of filmmaking and animation, as well as "experience the magic". While Disneyland cost $17 million to construct, the first year alone brought in a gross revenue of $10 million and crowds continue to flood the park year after year.
  • Play-Doh is sold in stores for the first time. A chemist at a cleaning products company, Joseph McVicker, invents a dough-like material to clean dirt off wallpaper. Around the same time, his sister, a school teacher, complained about the hard and unworkable modeling clay her students had to use. McVicker reworked his wall paper cleaner for her class and sold it to a department store. Play-Doh became the first non-toxic, pliable and child-friendly modeling compound to be sold. Children can easily express themselves in a three-dimensional medium in school and at home with the new Play-Doh. Teachers can demonstrate three-dimensional projects more easily with this softer modeling clay and make learning easier. To make your own version of Play-Doh, visit Homemade Play-Doh.
  • The Soviets launch the first artificial satellite called Sputnik. Americans believe that their schools have failed to provide enough good scientists to compete with their Cold War enemies. This concern leads to the National Defense Education Act, passed in 1958, which greatly decreases the emphasis placed on art education in schools.
  • The National Defense Education Act, NDEA, is passed by Congress and heavily supported by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The act called for schools to emphasize science and math in the hope that children with natural ability in these subjects would pursue careers that would eventually aid the United States National Defense and thus outmatch the Soviet Union's military, technology and research. The arts were greatly de-emphasized during this time because they were considered frivolous, and artists were encouraged to analyze and censor their work closely to avoid being accused of communicating a message that could easily be misconstrued. The art community, realizing that the arts needed to be defended, argued that art was important because it fosters creative problem solving skills that would transfer to other spheres of human intellectual activity. Titles III and IV of the NDEA gave $70 million per year over the next four years for new equipment, materials, and better supervision. Title V gave $15 million for the four fiscal years following the act for guidance counseling, testing, and identification of able students in these areas of study.
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 was passed to record the "strange new world of space." NASA's Space Art, "uses the medium of fine art to document America's space program for 'the expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space...for the benefit of all mankind."
  • Barnett Newman paints his famous Onement I, a symmetrical painting with a single monochromatic "zip" down the center. By reducing the composition to nothing, Newman kills the preciousness of the painting as an art object and forces the viewer to apprehend the work more strictly in terms of ideas. The iconic ideals behind Newman's Onement would continue thematically in order to set the stage for other color field artists such as Mark Rothko, who through their art attempt to push painting beyond an art form into a religious experience.
  • The term ``Pop Art'' was first used by the English critic Lawrence Alloway in a 1958 issue of Architectural Digest to describe those paintings that celebrate post-war consumerism, defy the psychology of Abstract Expressionism, and worship the god of materialism. The most famous of the Pop artists, the cult figure Andy Warhol, recreated quasi-photographic paintings of people or everyday objects because "Everything is beautiful. Pop is everything."