Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Global Crisis, The Role and Meaning of Art in Society

By Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Global Research

The more horrifying the world becomes, the more art becomes abstract. - Paul Klee

As the current world economic crisis deepens, the role and meaning of art in society changes as more and more people are dragged down by the weight of personal debt, unemployment and poverty. Galleries close and less people can afford to buy art creating a new awareness among artists of the fragility of the art market and the economic system behind it that creates an increasingly alienated and elitist exclusivism.

The beneficial effects of new radical-democratic global solidarity movements coming together to seek alternatives to this crisis in capitalist globalization may be to reinvigorate the long-standing, though weakened, connection between artists and the people (as opposed to the economic elites who have been the artists’ lifeblood in the past but who are now also in crisis).

While artists have depicted ordinary people since the Middle Ages, it was a past crisis that firmly established a mutually respectful relationship between the artist and the people. As Linda Nochlin writes in Realism:

“[I]t was not until the 1848 Revolution which raised the dignity of labour to official status and the grandeur of le people to an article of faith, that artists turned to a serious and consistent confrontation of the life of the poor and humble: to the depiction of work and its concrete setting as a major subject for art - as a possible subject even for an artistic masterpiece on a monumental scale.”

Read more HERE.

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