| Image Notes
Picture on wall above blackboard: Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, A Reading from Homer, 1885. Philadelphia Museum of Art.
...adventures in art-historical time and space are common in Deem's work, but they reach maximum complexity in an ongoing series with the title "School of..." These schools of famous artists and styles ... spring from Deem's own childhood memories going back to before the Second World War, when he attended a simple rural school in his hometown, Vincennes, Indiana. .... In this bare chamber of boyhood memories, the artist could go on to imagine all of art history paying brief visits and then, with a magic thunderclap, disappearing. Already in 1979, Deem painted with his usual precision of detail a sharp-focus recall of this schoolroom emptied of students and teacher... the only presences being the American flag and two paintings, the Stuart portrait of Washington and a Frederick Remington. .... And the schoolroom itself could stretch and change in later imagination, as in Everybody's Schoolroom of 1994... where the grid of desks expands to factory numbers, the Washington portrait on the wall turns into an Alma-Tadema print, and the framed windows become floating voids through which the shifting clouds and landscape outside begin to penetrate this disciplined world. (Robert Rosenblum, "George Deem: The Art of Art History" in: How To Paint A Vermeer (2004) 10-11).
Cover illustration (detail), Harper's Magazine, November 1998, New York. Theme: the disappearance of history in the classroom (Christopher Hitchens, "Goodbye To All That: Why Americans Are Not Taught History")
| Artist's Notes
In Everybody's Schoolroom (1994) the landscape whose clouds drift into the space of the schoolroom is a generic image of a landscape, not a particular landscape. It is in fact a Russian landscape, by the painter Ivan Shishkin. Summer School (1993) is another painting of a schoolroom opening into the world outside. The door and the windows are open to a summer day. In these paintings, school is a place in which to dream the long dreams of childhood. School of Thought (1985) might be called "school of wool-gathering," our English phrase to describe idle daydreaming. Idleness and daydreaming are not negative qualities for me, as I think is clear in these paintings. They are for me not only qualities of childhood and youth but are essential to learning at any time in life.(George Deem, letter to Helga Wilson, Nyborg Gymnasium, Nyborg, Denmark, February 17, 1998)
The Boston Athenaeum, Boston, Massachusetts