Art History for Chapter 15:
Into the Future: The Contemporary Era, 1980 to the Present
High or fine art continued many of the trends of the previous years after World War II, with enthused reception by elites and museums, but leaving the masses often disinterested. Few people understand or appreciate abstract art or art that shocks with sexuality or crudity. Meanwhile, the divide between High and Popular culture grows ever wider, with High Art starved for purpose and support.
Given all the creativity of the past, what do artists do for the future? New technologies offer some opportunity for new forms. The growth of art in the media continued to explode, with most people in the West having easy access to film, radio, and television. The art that is channeled into video, comics, and games may have rich possibilities to connect with our Civilization.
The comic books and strips evolved into the Graphic Novel, longer creative works that combined illustration and complex story lines. The development of first video games and then the personal computer brought new forms of art in entertainment to the masses, many of whom joined in the creation of art in new ways. All of art became more accessible than at any time in history to more people through images on the internet. Here are links to useful sites on art history.
Most Western sculptures in public areas and for commemoration remained mostly in abstract forms.
With the fall of the communism in the Soviet bloc, large amounts of art glorifying the totalitarian leaders and the working class heroes were removed from public spaces. Without substantial funds for replacing the communist monuments, many public spaces remained empty, waiting to be defined by the culture of the present.
Business structures continued to dominate urban and suburban skylines. The enclosed shopping mall did competed with the strip mall or the individualized “big box” store, which usually spread wide rather than tall as the now-declining department stores did once at the beginning of the Twentieth Century.
Government buildings, meanwhile, were often reduced in size and scale, due to fights about budgets and funding in most industrialized democracies. Few churches have been built lately in Western cities although the rise of mosques, some complete with minarets, have helped sparked a new culture war.