Symbols of growth: the decoration of Swedish schools 1890-1920

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Rachael Shepherd


This article will discuss the placing of art in schools in Sweden and the ideology behind this. The activities of Föreningen för skolornas prydande med konstverk [The Society for the Decoration of Schools with Artwork] and like-minded individuals will be examined. The Society was primarily concerned with children’s ability ‘to see’ works of art, aspiring “ convey art to the youth and the youth to the art.” Positioning the works of art in question within communal spaces facilitated the regular access to art prescribed by the Society. Didactic messages were channelled through compositional devices such as scenes of familiar localities and the empathetic subject of the youth in Swedish nature. Discussion will focus on how these art works made a collective school identity compatible with lessons in fostering national identity.

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