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High art

Related: art - culture - fine art - high culture

High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture (1990) - Kirk Varnedoe [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Art for All? : The Collision of Modern Art and the Public in Late-Nineteenth-Century Germany (2003) - Beth Irwin Lewis [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Contrast: low arts

Context

In Britain until recently the fine artsŚpainting, sculpture, printmaking, et ceteraŚwere seen as distinct from craft disciplines such as applied art, design, textiles, and the various metalworking disciplines such as blacksmithing and jewelery. This distinction arose from the work of a group of artists led by William Morris known as the Arts and Crafts Movement whose political aim was to value vernacular artforms as much as high forms. The movement was at odds with modernists who sought to withhold the high arts from the masses by keeping them esoteric.

The result of the conflict between the two groups was to politicise the products of what we now know as visual artists. British art schools made a clear distinction between the fine arts (a term that hints at their supposed superiority) and the crafts in such a way that a craftsperson could not be considered a practitioner of high art. Although this is no longer the case, the residue of inequality between the crafts or applied arts and the so-called fine arts still exists in some quarters. In Britain the term "visual arts" is suitably independent of these older, loaded concepts and as such is the preferred term for work across all the disciplines in question.

A similar stigma exists in the US, where "arts and crafts" has a very particular meaning, denoting the sort of artwork first taught in elementary school and also (later in life) a variety of kitsch, household artwork. Most craftspeople are still not seen as practicing "fine art" among the traditional art school set, but certainly can produce "high art" if considered to be a "visual artist", nomatter the medium. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_art [Aug 2005]

Art for All? : The Collision of Modern Art and the Public in Late-Nineteenth-Century Germany (2003) - Beth Irwin Lewis

Review
Basing her study on a wide reading of what critics wrote on German art journals and magazines, Lewis fills an important void in our knowledge of the German art scene of the 1880s and 1890s, which set the stage for later shocks and public alienation.

Book Description
This book tells the story of Germany's rich, flourishing, and diversified world of art in the last decades of the nineteenth century--a world that has until recently been eclipsed by the events of the twentieth century. Basing her narrative on a close reading of contemporary periodicals, and lavishly complementing it with cartoons and other illustrations from these publications, Beth Irwin Lewis provides the first systematic, comprehensive study of that German art world. She focuses on how critics and the public responded to new forms of painting that emerged in the 1880s, when the explosive growth of art exhibitions supported by local governments across a recently united Germany was accompanied by skyrocketing attendance of a new mass public.

Describing the rapid critical acceptance and dominance of the new modern art in the 1890s, Lewis analyzes these developments within a complex interweaving of social, cultural, and economic factors. Although critics had hoped for a unified new art for the new nation, the success of modern art fragmented the art world, as modern artists and their supporters turned away from the often unreceptive mass public of the great exhibitions. Lewis's approach through the popular journals reveals the public's growing alienation from modern artists and an increasing contempt for the public on the part of these artists and their supporters--all of which prefigured tensions in the contemporary art world. Her wide-ranging text examines not only the various ways art was promoted to and received by the public, but also anti-Semitism, the role of women artists, and changes in style of both art and criticism.

Well documented, engagingly written, and vividly illustrated, this book will interest not only scholars and students but all readers interested in German cultural history and art history. --via Amazon.com

High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture (1990) - Kirk Varnedoe

From Publishers Weekly
Narrower in scope than its title suggests, this sprawling, visually riveting catalogue of a traveling exhibition traces the "dialogue" between "high" art (Picasso, Miro, Seurat, etc.) and the streetwise or commercial "low" media of graffiti, caricature, comics and advertising. Picasso transformed sly notebook caricatures into the "high" paintings of his primitive/archaic phase. Claes Oldenburg turned a lipstick tube into a colossal, totemic monument. From cubist newspaper collages to Jenny Holzer's electric-message installations, popular culture has served such modern artists as Jeff Koons, Joseph Cornell and Cy Twombly as a means of recovery of certain high-art traditions. Although the text may be swollen with hype, artspeak and farfetched comparisons, this tome entertains as it informs. Varnedoe is director of paintings and sculpture at New York's Museum of Modern Art; Gopnik is a New Yorker staff writer. Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

See also: commercial art - high - "high" art - low - modern art - popular culture

See also: graffiti - caricature - comics - advertising

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