Art History for Chapter 14:
A World Divided: The Early Cold War, 1945 to 1980
Many critics began to say that fine art had lost its way, creating little of lasting connection to people, and failing to explain modern times. Instead, the arts of popular culture continued to grow and dominate.
Artists looked backward, whether in advertising, popular magazines, and other new electronic media, had no influence on the course of “high” art. But they were popular anyhow, able to reach wide audiences. Norman Rockwell offers the best example. Other commercial media, film and television, and now video games, have become much more to the citizens of technologized societies.
The style called ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM, sometimes called the New York School or “action painting”, take along trend to have no realistic reference, just abstract images. Look like accidents, improvisation, pouring paint on floor, drip paintings, interlacing lines, apparently random dripping, splattering, throwing paint onto huge canvas on the floor
Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) is the most famous an proponent of this style, embodying the angry artist.
Color Field art offered huge swatches of paint (blurred rectangles by Mark Rothko (1903-70) or hard edged by Frank Stella), which enabled artwork/view interaction: the artist can project or the viewer can perceive some feeling the large expanses of pigment.
Pop Art was a form of High Art that drew on popular art (the source of its name). It took images and ideas from advertising and entertainment media and placed them in new contexts, asking the viewer to reexamine the commonality of one’s life. Other forms of pop art used patterns and color to create illusions, often of motion or dream, making art come alive in a new fashion. Most popular was Roy Liechtenstein's riffs on comic book images. An offshoot might be Photo-realism, where artists reproduced images such as snapshots from a camera on huge canvases with incredible optical accuracy. Minimalism sought to reduce art to simple forms. Conceptual Art tried to put installations of odd objects to juxtapose culture, art, and life.
The most famous pop artist was Andy Warhol (1930-1987), who famously claimed that soon everyone would have fifteen minutes of fame.
For the growing cities throughout the West and soon the world, a new architectural style, the International style, sometimes called functionalism allowed form and function to combine. It had begun in Weimar Germany (Bauhaus), but the coming of the Nazis and World War II drove the architects away. In post-war America it quickly spread, with examples such as the Seagram Building or the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The new skyscrapers eliminated ornamentation and seemed like tall boxes of steel, plastic, and glass.
Totalitarian building, especially as many cities in Eastern Europe needed to be rebuilt after the destruction of World War II, did make remarkable changes on the urban landscape there. They mostly built in modernist style and decorated their plazas and buildings with largely naturalistic sculptures of proletarian workers and heroes.
Both in America and Europe the rise of the automobile transformed the landscape, increasing the size and number of the population living in suburbs. Economical housing, such as in the archetypical Levittowns, was affordable to more people than ever before. The economic heart suburban life was of course the shopping mall, surrounded by acres of asphalt paved for parking.