Back in the 1860s the world of art took a change of direction that was to forever impact the course of art history and set the stage for what is now termed the era of modern art. This era saw the rebellion against traditional and ideological notions of acceptable art and a move toward the artistic response to a rapidly changing, modern world. The industrial revolution fashioned a different landscape and the subsequent effects on people’s lives needed recording in a realistic way. The advent of two World Wars and The Great depression further consolidated this notion and thus the movement was propelled along until the 1970s, when what was modern simply seemed to be too old-fashioned to be thus named!
Following the excesses and social and cultural backlashes of the 60s, art slid into the post-modernist period where it struggled to find an identity that could be more then seemingly random, abstract splurges of paint or inexplicably placed pieces of household furniture. What also emerged was an explosion of technology which was now becoming available and affordable to all, and thus continued the transition of art as the prerogative of the privileged few to that of the masses.
Postmodern art has thus continued to evolve into the contemporary art of today and increasingly expands its parameters to include visual arts across the spectrum of technology, using computer graphics, video, photography and other areas of digital art that can create mixed-media work. The internet, smart phones and cheap technology brings the creative world to everyone’s finger tips so what does that mean for the idea of the traditional artist working to express a point of view or effect social change, as was observed with the likes of the post war artists? On the one hand we see a move towards a corporate art world where the advent of more museums and exhibition venues, specifically to advance and perhaps exploit this trend in young artists, sees a lucrative return for its efforts. Art has always been someone’s business but now it is big business, and combined with cheap, accessible air travel has become a global attraction that is linked to entertainment and tourism.
Young artists are perhaps attracted to the field for the benefits and fame it might afford where as in days gone by the ‘starving’ artist was concerned with the social and political commentary or at the very least the need to give the world some kind of wakeup call!
On the Brighter Side!
However, let us not forget that the very nature of the field of art is to be controversial and challenging, even if that means in how we define and come to grips with the very definition of the form itself. The fact that anyone from anywhere around the globe can participate and appreciate the various forms of self-expression and have a voice in an often confusing world is in itself a great positive. How art continues to progress from here on in remains to be seen. Watch this space!