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Are Australian Art Academics Stuck In A Rut?

A Brief Overview of Western Art History in the last 100 Years.

During the 1880’s intellectual content became increasingly more important in the Arts.

When modern art was winning its wings with the public after the First World War, it was essential to de-emphasize photographic exactness for emotional and geometric expression.

Duchamp’s philosophy being, Art is whatever the Artist points his finger at, opened the door to what is portrayed as Art, but more questionably who could call themselves an Artist?

Beginning with Impressionism, then Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop and Minimalism, Art progressed in movements.

Realism seemed to stay in the forefront in the form of surrealism until after the Second World War. The same was true of the great muralist movement, Social Realism that was so popular in the 1930’s

The postwar era brought about the age of “pure art “….art of abstract theory. This in many people’s minds made the physical object d’art passé, and, in the theoretic concept of the action of creating the art, became the art itself.

Strong influences ie. Clement Greenburg and Harold Kosenburg were instrumental in the persecution of representational art in order to gain approval for abstract expressionism.

By the 1970’s Universities no longer taught skills but rather artistic emotions. The people that created art, myself included and the art world were always on the hunt for what might be the new ”ism”.

Instead, Art by the 1980’s was at an evolutionary moment where it splintered into hundreds of categories. Artists no longer had to do the work themselves. Calder’s large sculptures were sent to shipyards for fabrication. Warhol’s “Art factory” mass produced his every whim. Installation Art of every size and material left the viewer wondering what was the Artist trying to say.

By 2000 computer and video art conspired to blur the line and the reselling of Modern Masters became a must have investment, similar to Blue chip stocks.

Post 9/11 and the GFC the world art market has struggled to find its former glory.

Grandiose installations intended to overwhelm the viewer with their own insignificance and the Artist/

creator’s brilliance has fallen from favour.

The long slow burn of the Underground artist is well alight and one has only to look at the world wide popularity of tattooing to realize that the need to see Art skills has re-awakened people’s love of the representational Arts.

These are my educated beliefs….but I could be wrong.


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