Proponents of high culture have trusted its power as an antidote to contemporary social ills. However, art educators should be aware that the history of such attempts is a history of failure. It is a history of gradual marginalization, both of the critique and the critics, and of increasingly conservative political reaction. The critique represents, today as it has always done, a nostalgia for an idealized past. But the failure of the critique suggests that there can be no going back. It is argued that the increasing failure of this critique to positively influence social and cultural life is a warning that the future of art education lies elsewhere. As representative of this critique, this paper discusses the English cultural critics Edmund Burke, Matthew Arnold, F.R. Leavis and T. S. Eliot; the Frankfurt School Marxists Horkheimer, Adorno, and Marcuse; and the Postmodern French critic Jean Baudrillard. Finally, guidelines for a future contemporary art education are advanced.
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