What is the position of art theory in contemporary art education and what can we expect from it? This is the central question at the Expert Meeting for theory teachers in art education at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague on 25 November 2011. The conference is organised by the lectorate headed by Janneke Wesseling in collaboration with the theory section of the academy.

Over the past ten years, art theory at Dutch art academies has gone through a significant development, with a wide range of theoretical disciplines having found its place in art education curricula. Art history, philosophy, sociology and communication have become accepted courses, and in addition there is a rapprochement happening between art and science. Students are trained to not only operate optimally on a visual level, but also intellectually in the context of the contemporary globalised world. At the same time art academies in the Netherlands are under fire. The wave of budget cuts that has hit the art world is also felt in art education. With the argument that there are too many artists being educated, academies are being forced to shut down and merge entire departments.

What role can art theory teachers play in this complex situation? What does a contemporary theory curriculum exactly entail? How does theory relate to the unruly contemporary artistic practice?

Colleagues from Dutch and Flemish academies are invited to attend the conference. Four speakers – two artists and two theoreticians – have been asked to formulate answers to the question of the ideal theory curriculum and consequently initiate a discussion. Smaller groups will then discuss the various sub-topics. The day will be concluded with a forum discussion and a buffet for all attendees.


  • Steven ten Thije (1980, NL), research curator at the Van Abbe Museum
  • Elodie Hiryczuk (1977, FR) and Sjoerd van Oevelen (1974, NL), artist duo
  • Pascal Gielen (1970, BE), art sociologist at the University of Groningen/Fontys Hogeschool Tilburg
  • Wendelien van Oldenborch (1962, NL), visual artist


10.45 Introduction by Janneke Wesseling
11.00 Lecture by Sjoerd van Oevelen & Elodie Hiryczuk
11.45 Lecture by Pascal Gielen
13.30 Parallel group discussions
14.45 Lecture by Steven ten Thije
15.45 Lecture by Wendelien van Oldenborgh
17.00 Forum discussion


Language: Dutch
Costs: €20 (including lunch and diner)

Below you can watch some lectures from the day:

Lecture by Steven ten Thije with an introduction by Onno Schilstra. Video recording by Miguel Peres dos Santos.

Lezing Pascal Gielen, Landelijke Dag van de Theorie, KABK 2011 from Lectorate KTP & PhDArts on Vimeo.

Lecture by Pascal Gielen, with introduction by Anja Novak. Video recording by Miguel Peres dos Santos.

Lezing Sjoerd van Oevelen en Elodie Hiryczuk tijdens Landelijke Dag van de Theorie, KABK 2011 from Lectorate KTP & PhDArts on Vimeo.

Lecture by Sjoerd van Oevelen and Elodie Hiryczuk, with introduction by Ingrid Grootes. Video recording by Miguel Peres dos Santos.