Oskar Hansen and Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw

Academy of Fine Arts, where Oskar Hansen used to teach, in Sculpture Department, is situated in district named Krakowskie Przedmieście in Warsaw – capital of Poland. One of the students, Jerzy Słomiński, in Filip Springer’s book mentions about the particular course which has been served at Academy of Fine Arts by Oskar Hansen as a lecturer. In the room, painted in white and with sound of music, student had to go in cylinder shape carton box hanged from the ceiling and draw inside the answer for Hansen’s question. It is one of the student’s memories about the innovative way of teaching, which Hansen introduced to the school.


Oskar Hansen with his ideology stood out from the group of teachers, which followed current situation in Poland and represented classical art through the no provocative form. Hansen required from the student’s projects esthetics, which arise from deep sense and something reasonable, what include analysis in itself. Required from the students infinite searching, analyzing, and appropriate artistic  language to communicate with him. Mathematical attempt to the art made him incredible original and identifiable with artists from western Europe. He advocated self-responsible way of learning to give students chance to choose what they want to do, to do not create obligatory list of courses. The students have to be evaluate through the process and effects, not the attendance on the lectures. When the Sculpture Department of Academy of Fine Arts occupied new building, Hansen came with his ideas to change education and proposed common project, in which would be involved every student and teacher, to work together with the same issue. His explanation was “There do not exist any type of registration process to studio, because school do not have any. This is the open system, which allows to have opportunity to consulate project with different consultants and professors according to student’s needs. The task for whole year. Credit commission.”1 Hansen was responsible for the interior design. He proposed open space, which includes all students. The privacy was possible, because of provided mobile wooden screens. His idea and project of new school of thought  was rejected by pessimistic professors and has been hidden as not to arouse controversy. It is said to be rejected, because of fair of professors to lose the position in school and their rooted outdated ideals and rules. In 1980 Hansen won the position of dean, because of students votes and proposed new system, which allows students to choose studio leaded by particular professors. If they are not chosen during 2 years, they have to leave the school. This is about open form of studies. Program was strongly criticized and Hansen became accused to be against  the identity of the department and its liberal traditions. Hansen had to leave the Sculpture Department, and his concept of open form of school has never been realized.


Il.1.Students in Oskar Hansen’s Studio with apparatuses for Rhythm exercise. Source: http://diarieducacio.cat/oskar-hansen-al-macba-educar-millor-fer-ho-jugant/

1|Springer F., “Zaczyn. O Oskarze i Zofii Hansenach”, p.185, translated from polish by Paulina Frankowska

Oskar Hansen and Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw

[SPACE] SUSCEPTIBILITIES ON THE BENCH, House of Hansen in Szumin, Poland

The visitor senses different scales and he/she is conscious about that. The moment  of change is radical or sometimes unpredictable.

Look there, you see the horizon, field, sand, blue sky. This is the macro scale. And now turn and look at the house. What do you see? The wall with white line and the bench. You do not see the doors, just the wall and bench. Let’s sit on it. In this moment you changed the scale from the macro to mezzo. You are in the village, in Szumin, you can sit here and observe people coming back from the field. When you sit on this bench it means you became the part of this world- this bench pose as social instrument. […] They serve as a meeting point. […] And now look rightwards. Your attention attracts the white line painted on the wall. Follow it. Now you can see the doors head to inside. In few minutes you cross the next border. You change the scale of your presence.”1

The house of Oskar and Zofia Hansen comprises an undeniably good example of architecture respecting the context, build environment and natural landscape, where is situated. Through the small architectural movements, valuable ornament, design influence and the human being incorporation into the project architects achieved the successful concept of open form in the private house structure. Every summer Oskar Hansen was inviting there several students and was giving them new task. One of the exemplary work was to compose the table structure by different wooden boards painted white and grey to sense the stability and reasonableness.

1Il.1. House of Oskar and Zofia Hansen. Interior. Source: http://www.polska.pl/kultura-i-sztuka/architektura-i-design/dom-hansenow-w-szuminie-na-liscie-iconic-houses-network/

2Il.2. House of Oskar and Zofia Hansen. Source: http://www.polska.pl/kultura-i-sztuka/architektura-i-design/dom-hansenow-w-szuminie-na-liscie-iconic-houses-network/

1 | Springer F., “Zaczyn. O Oskarze i Zofii Hansenach”, p.168, translated from polish by Paulina Frankowska

[SPACE] SUSCEPTIBILITIES ON THE BENCH, House of Hansen in Szumin, Poland

Joseph Beuys – teaching through the activity and interaction

Joseph Beuys was born in 1921 in Krefeld, Germany, and spend his life in the countryside. As a child shaped by Nazi ideology, was interested in plants and animals, which later on had influence in his work and ideology. In 1942 took part during the invasion of southern Russia as a German soldier. After II World War Beuys decided to start studies at Dusseldorf Academy of Art, where he has been working and living with students and professors on the ruins of occupied city. ‘Beuys appears to have been searching, during this time, for an artistic vocabulary to express the trauma of the war experience and its aftermath.’1 Strong influence of II World War caused his work lead to the teachings of the influential mystic Rudolf Steiner, founder of the international Anthroposophy movement. His oeuvre includes drawings, sculptures related to energy transference through natural processes such as birth, conversely and decay. Joseph Beuys was saying that his greatest work of art is to be a teacher, which the role has kept over 20 years. He was teaching through the activity and interaction, spreading ideas about role of art in society to a wide range of audience. In that case, Beuys had big influence on contemporary art and society, in the same time strongly politically engaged.

His ant bureaucratic pedagogy characterized controversy through the action, which occurs most of time during his lectures. It is in 1960s, when Beuys engaged his student to participate in art-political movements to touch the issue of society with his famous slogan is “society sculpture”. His controversial work inconvenienced him problems with school’s administration. He was seemed to be restricted in terms of selecting the students, with whom he was strongly connected as the one unit. The drawing Democracy is Merry (1973) presents his student and himself being escorted from the shool after a sit-in protesting the school’s admission policy.

joseph beuys 2

Il.Democracy is Merry (1973) presents his students and himself being escorted from the shool after a sit-in protesting the school’s admission policy.

-1- Antliff A., Joseph Beuys, Phaidon, 2014, p.7

Joseph Beuys – teaching through the activity and interaction