This paper argues that the arts in New Zealand education have been modernist. It begins with a discussion of modernism, in terms that recognise the moral, epistemological and aesthetic privileging of the author/artist, and is followed by a discussion of humanism/ liberalism insofar as it brings to the surface certain 'buried' assumptions concerning modernism. Through a discussion of curriculum documents, the paper establishes the senses in which modernism per se has invested itself, both implicitly and explicitly, in art education. The possibility of art education being otherwise is discussed and, in particular, the way that the ideological features of humanism/liberalism (its privileging of the individual subject) can be offset in a variety of ways. Suggestions are made for disrupting the hegemony of modernist theories or practices and for how these elements might be the basis for an alternative curriculum in art education.