Once upon a time: Art

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 


Tutors: Marie Dekaeke, Marie-Laure Delaporte/ PhD students in art history, Claire Barbillon/ lecturer in art history, Aurélie Erlich, art historian and national guide

Project manager: Stéphane Coulaud


What do we do when we look at a work of art? What do we think about and what do we imagine? How can an art historian interpret what he sees seriously, whether he likes it or not?
Each class was allocated a set of major works from the history of art. It then had research the idea of “looking”: What did it see and how it could talk about the process of looking.

In the first stage, the pupils learnt basic technical vocabulary so they could describe what they saw: paintings on canvas and wood, photographs, water colours, bronze, marble, or plaster sculptures, sketches, drawings, rough sketches, etc.

Each class was given a different medium so they could cover a broad range of works.

To understand their importance in the history of art, each work or artist was put into a historical and artistic context, and the references were explained. At the same time as this study, the pupils observed and described the works themselves and the way they looked at them.

In the third stage, once they had mastered the analytical tools used in art history, the pupils began their interpretation. Rather than faithfully reproducing the discourse traditional in each discipline, the pupils were left free to say what they felt when they were confronted with the art works, which fuelled discussions with the tutors.

Publication of a 40-page illustrated booklet based on the pupils’ observations and comments in the workshops. 200 copies were printed and each class was given 30 to be distributed in the schools. In addition, the booklet was sent to partners in the project and to Paris museums.
The booklet touches on the pupils’ reactions to 17th and 18th century European painting, the origins of photography and the work of great photographers, and the sculpture of Rodin, Maillol and Bourdelle. 

Special thanks to Catherine Chevillot, director of the Musée Rodin (Paris), Élodie Voillot, PhD student in art history, Amélie Dubois, plastic artist


Outings (selection):

Participating schools:
- Class (6th) SEGPA, Collège Jean-Zay, Bondy
- Class (5th) SEGPA, Collège Robespierre, Épinay-sur-Seine
- Class (3rd), Collège Rousseau, Le Pré-Saint-Gervais
- Class (3rd), Collège Jorissen, Drancy


Photo et graphisme: BIBLIS DUROUX

Once upon a time: Art
Once upon a time: Art
Once upon a time: Art
Once upon a time: Art