Idealist School, Productive Studio

Idealist School, Productive Studio


Gazi Arts-Crafts Department student Osman Aziz Yeşil with various cardboard works, c. 1959-1962. SALT Research, Osman Aziz Yeşil Archive.

November 22, 2018
Idealist School, Productive Studio
Gazi Arts-Crafts Department from 1932 to 1973
November 27, 2018–February 17, 2019
Salt Galata
Bankalar Caddesi 11, Karaköy
34420 Istanbul

The principal teacher training school, established three years after the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, Gazi Education Institute in Ankara was assigned to bring up teachers who were equipped with all necessary skills to exercise their profession in conditions of hardship, both materially and intellectually. The students were provided with applicable knowledge, which was considered to be the most practical and favorable in the political climate of the period. The Institute’s Arts-Crafts Department developed a curriculum around the concept of “work” with a pedagogical approach that emphasized “learning by doing.” A highly original variety of art education was made available, whose fundamental principles found expression in the practices of the graduates, trained as artist-teachers. Idealist School, Productive Studio focuses between the years 1932 and 1973, marking the period when the Department was opened and until when the Institute’s boarding school was rescinded. Adding a new layer to SALT’s research on the art history of Turkey, the exhibition presents a selection of archive materials and works of art along with oral narratives.

The notion and practice of work education became widespread among industrializing countries from the end of the 19th century onward, especially on the utilization of new means of production. In the 20th century however, late-industrializing countries concentrated on raising generations of skilled workers who could serve as the agents of implementing rapid progress. This transformation involved associating the old with laziness and lethargy and the new with creation, construction, design, and utility. As a result, in many countries, work education came to be seen as the basis of modern pedagogy. In the Ottoman Empire, first debates around the idea emerged in 1908, when Mustafa Satı Bey was appointed director of Dârulmuallimîn, an all-male teacher training school in Istanbul. In subsequent years, they were further developed by the reflections of thinkers including İsmail Hakkı Baltacıoğlu and İsmail Hakkı Tonguç, and eventually formed the conceptual basis for a number of leading institutions, such as Gazi Education Institute (est. 1926-27), Community Centers (Halkevleri, est. 1932), and Village Institutes (Köy Enstitüleri, est. 1940).

In Gazi Arts-Crafts Department, art was consciously linked to work and profession as part of the overarching political and social mobilization that was viewed essential to the modern republic. This approach played a significant role in the development of artist-teachers by combining fine art studios like painting, graphics, and modelling together with applied arts studios like wood, metal, and cardboard works. Students were taught to produce with diverse materials that, in the future, they could use in their art classes as well as their own artistic practice.

Idealist School, Productive Studio explores the contributions this comprehensive mastery of knowledge made to future generations through archival visual records, textbooks of pedagogy, the pedagogical debates held in Baltacıoğlu’s journal Yeni Adam [The New Man], the entire corpus of Adnan Turani’s 1960s journal Sanat ve Sanatçılar [Art and Artists], and the covers of the Community Centers’ journal Ülkü [Ideal], which were designed by teachers in the Arts-Crafts Department. These sources are accompanied by works of a number of graduates and teachers, including paintings by artist and writer Malik Aksel—selected by art historian Martina Becker—and digitized photographs of Şinasi Barutçu, an important figure in the spread of photography in Turkey.

Following the initial presentation at SALT Galata in Istanbul, the exhibition will take place at Çankaya Municipality Contemporary Arts Center in Ankara between March 4 and April 7, 2019.

The Universe Flickers
Ongoing until December 30, 2018 at SALT Beyoğlu

Taking SALT Beyoğlu as a departure point, Anna Boghiguian, Rana Hamadeh, Navine G. Khan-Dossos, and Merve Ünsal tackle the unknowable and the inadequate image we have of the present with works stretching into, occupying, and animating the building. The four positions proposed by artists produce a series of complex affects while triggering sensibilities, which effect both habits of the body as well as the habits of the mind. Instead of de-facto series of art objects on show, the works are spatial interventions, even performative challenges to classic dynamics of exhibition display. Programmed by Annie Fletcher, chief curator of Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Universe Flickers is the second exhibition in the series Conversations.

RSVP for Idealist School, Productive Studio
November 22, 2018

Thank you for your RSVP.

Salt will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.