Friday, April 12, 2013

A fundamentally new interpretation of modern art

According to art researcher-scholar David W. Galenson, Pablo Picasso was the first ever artist to take real advantage of the new regime: he painted more portraits of dealers early in his career than any other artist had. He systematically created competition for his work. His research has changed our understanding of creativity, combines social scientific methods with qualitative analysis to produce that gives readers a far deeper appreciation of the art of the past century, and of today.

Throwing light on this thought behind his core argument in the book, titled ‘Conceptual Revolutions’ (Publisher: Cambridge University Press; $89-$99; Pages: 460),an introductory note mentions: “From Picasso's Cubism and Duchamp's readymades to Warhol's silkscreens and Smithson's earthworks, the art of the twentieth century broke completely with earlier artistic traditions.

“A basic change in the market for advanced art produced a heightened demand for innovation, and young conceptual innovators responded not only by creating dozens of new forms of art, but also by behaving in ways that would have been incomprehensible to their predecessors.  The book presents a systematic analysis of the reasons for this discontinuity.”

A series of insightful essays traces 20th-century art’s back story; its greatest male and female artists; the most important artworks; the greatest artistic breakthroughs;  new genres; the versatility of conceptual innovators; and the globalization of advanced art in the 20th century. There are some offbeat chapters focusing on the conceptual innovator as trickster and the conceptual artist as manufacturer; language in visual art.

Another interesting segment highlights ‘Artists and the market: from Leonardo and Titian to Warhol and Hirst’. Finally, he takes a succinct look at the state of advanced art: the late 20th century and beyond. Galenson believes that terms like ‘postmodernism’ and ‘pluralism’ are based on a complete misunderstanding of the broader 20th-century art trends.

In fact, the proliferation of new art genres of art, the fading out of dominant styles, and the elimination of style altogether by several leading artists were not really new practices in the 1970s-'80s. They were just a part of logical extension by young conceptual innovators of the practices initiated at the start of the 20th century by Picasso, Duchamp and a host of other young conceptual innovators.

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