Controversial art seems to be a touchy subject in a school curriculum, but its importance should not be tossed aside. It is important that children of an older age learn about their rights of freedom of expression. The National Art Education Association discourages the use of censorship, and stated n the final paragraph of the NAEA statement that “the art educator should impress upon students the vital importance of freedom of expression as a basic premise in a free democratic society and urged students to guard against any efforts to limit or curtail that freedom” (www.culturework.com). Teaching children to create works of art as part of their emotional and conceptual growth requires a curriculum of openness, honesty, and clarity, as well as a setting where children can learn about and discuss controversial ideas and artworks. “Censoring works of art will not make challenging images go away. Whitewashing the art education curriculum will not make controversial ideas go away” (Diane Gregory, Censorship in the Art Classroom, 1996).
Many controversial ideas and artworks may seem to be risqué at the time they were created, but are now very important works in art history. One painting by John Singer Sargent, titled “ Madame X” instantly became a scandal in French society. Because of the “sexual suggestiveness of the Madame’s pose, the pasty color of her skin and the reddish pink color of her ear, the Madame’s relatives demanded the picture be withdrawn from the salon des refuses in 1884 or they would destroy the painting.
The portrait remained in his studio for many years, but is now featured in the metropolitan museum in New York (www.delacruzarts.com).
To today’s public, this painting appears to have no controversial issues. It is a feminine pose that shows a very soft and delicate side of the Madame. I do not see any reason why this particular painting could not be included in a curriculum for both...