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Related: bias - classical music - drama - high art - R. U. Sirius - tragedy
Key texts: Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944/1947)
Contrast with: amusement - entertainment - laughter - playfulness
Serious art has been withheld from those for whom the hardship and oppression of life make a mockery of seriousness, and who must be glad if they can use time not spent at the production line just to keep going. Light art has been the shadow of autonomous art. It is the social bad conscience of serious art. The truth which the latter necessarily lacked because of its social premises gives the other the semblance of legitimacy. The division itself is the truth: it does at least express the negativity of the culture which the different spheres constitute. Least of all can the antithesis be reconciled by absorbing light into serious art, or vice versa. But that is what the culture industry attempts. --Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer (1944), Dialectic of Enlightenment
IntroductionIn a culture context, serious means and I quote AHD: Designed for and addressing grave and earnest tastes: serious art; serious music. Most of the time the term is used as a synonym for high art or museum art in the case of the visual arts, and classical music in the context of music.
Dada - which has been labelled anti-art - was the first cultural movement to challenge the hegemony of serious art. This subversive tradition was continued by surrealism, pop art and postmodernism.
To illustrate the extent with which serious art has become an accepted term. Do a search for "unserious art" on Google and count the results. I found 34.
Lately, when I go to art show or museums, I find it very refreshing to find art that makes me laugh. [Jan 2006]
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