Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Thinking About Art has a few good reviews from J.T.'s gallery walk-through last Saturday.

Tomorrow and Friday I will be hopping around the 7th Street corridor and the Canal Square galleries and will discuss some of those shows.

Mark Jenkins' virtual tape men invade the Mall. Read it here.

Guest Editorial: Does the absence of an arts movement mean art is not... moving?

Guest Editorial by Malik M. Lloyd

"The art of any society emerges from the beliefs, attitudes, organization and structure as well as the inherent creativity and energy of that society. The truths and standards generally accepted are also those which underlie all artistic expression.

We are at the dawn of a new millennium. The 21st century has come bringing with it the new age of technology, terrorism and war. Modern technology has transformed the way we communicate, conduct business and for some us, it has changed the way we do art. Terrorism and war have forced us to take a closer look at not only other cultures and religions, but to examine those things in our own religion and culture that shape us and make us what we are today.

If it is true that art is reflective of the beliefs, attitudes and structure of society, when the history books are written about the current era what will they say about the art of the new millennium?

Popular music, unlike the visual arts, has a distinctive array of current trends and movements with the sounds of hip-hop, rap, gangster rap and neo-soul. Like most arts movements of the past, these musical forms were met with hostility and apprehension. History has taught us that revolutionary change often comes with a high price tag.

In art, there are numerous examples of arts movements that were not accepted by the masses when the work was first exhibited. In his work titled, Modern Art, Trevor Copplestone points to this same lack of acceptance regarding Impressionism, Futurism and Surrealism in the 20th century.

When the Impressionist first exhibited in a group show in 1874 their work was ridiculed, compared to the scribbles of a child, called wretched and insulting.

Copplestone writes this about Futurism: 'In 1909, the Futurism manifesto was published, extolling the beauty of speed, the virility of the new machine-based society and the possibilities inherent in the nascent scientific age of a new dynamic humanism. On the whole the movement was met with ridicule that its activities deliberately invited.'

In 1924, the first surrealist manifesto was issued. Surrealism appeared in many different artistic forms, including poetry, fiction, music and films. Surrealism is often thought of as an attitude to life and society as opposed to a style in art. During the 1930s, surrealist work was put on display in most countries. Without fail, these exhibitions were met with incomprehension. Moreover, the mainstream press vilified surrealism. Copplestone notes when the 1936 International Surrealists Exhibition opened in London that the Daily Express wrote that it was 'unfit' for the public, which was probably due to the overt sexuality used extensively in the early surrealist works.

Many art historians have argued that pop art was one of the most accepted by the public from its very onset, which was due to it being the first art form in which the lifestyle of the popular culture dictated the art. In the late 1950s in London and New York, pop art took as its subject matter from the common imagery of American culture as defined by the advertising industry. Pop art addressed trendy fashionable images. The qualities desirable for pop art was popular, low-brow, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous and big business. Pop was anti-art, or at least, anti-high art.

Currently, in the visual arts, diversity seems to be the operative word. Depending on the which gallery one steps into, regardless of the city, state, country, you can readily view abstract art, impressionistic, cubism as well as a variety of other styles and mediums. No particular style, method or medium has dominated the art scene in the first few years of the new millennium nor has any group of artists developed manifestos declaring new artistic intent or motive.

Via chose or as a result of an absence of a current artistic style, fashion or 'movement' visual artists appear to be more focused on things that interest them on a more personal or individual level. They appear to be working more within themselves and producing work that is connected to their own personal experiences, interest, influences, heritage or history. A kind of 'individualism' appears to be the constant theme within the art of the new millennium.

Regardless of which direction that we decide to travel, history books will be written. It is up to you to create the text."

Malik M. Lloyd
FIND ART Information Bank