Category Archives: History of art 1 – Part one (course material reflections)

Do you think there’s still a clear distinction between fine art and popular culture today or is it more useful to think in terms of a spectrum of visual culture? Is there a place for traditional galleries?

I think people generally don’t use the term fine art these days as much and there is more a holistic approach to all arts. Many art institutions seem to have exhibits from all areas of the arts now so this does fix in people’s minds that every art discipline has equal value and status. A bit like libraries, art galleries have moved with the times and are far less prescriptive and static.

There will always be a place for galleries as rather like a visit to the cinema or a concert, that real confrontation with art in a public space adds so much richness to the experience and the deepens the impact.


Examples of non-western influences on Western Art.

One example springs to mind which is Picasso who was influenced by African masks in his Art. Please see below


Above is Head of a Woman from 1907. He was influenced by African art after attending an exhibition on the subject.

Degas became influenced by Japanese prints which were beginning to appear in Paris in the late 19th Century due to increased trading.


The way Degas composed his paintings was reminiscent of the Japanese prints flatness of space and unusual viewing angle. As can be seen the the picture Absinthe above.












What is the role of the art critic today?

I feel that the art critic acts as a half way house between the general public and art academia. Their role is to update and inform the masses about what is happening in the art world using some of the acedemic thinking and terminology in an accessible way.

They do this in such a way as to engage the public and enthuse them about the subject. Encouraging them to both visit exhibitions and hopefully delve a bit deeper into the art world. Try to help people to understand how art matters and is part of all our lives.

Educate, inform, promote, encourage.

What do you understand by the term ‘style’ as applied to art?

Style in art can mean different things. You could talk about an artists individual style, for example how they use colour or the way they paint certain objects (like how Lowery depicts people). You could also say that a someone paints in a certain style (for example Surrealism, Impressionism, etc…). In all cases saying that art has a certain style means that it displays certain attributes that are recognisable and relatable to other similar works.

Are you aware of any current developments in materials and processes that might influence the art of the future?

It seems that digital technology is playing a greater role in art these days. You could imagine that if Gilbert and George were starting out in art now they would probably design all their work on a computer. Inventions like 3d printers will probably have some influence on sculpture perhaps?

How would you describe the status of artists today?

I would say that there are a few artists that have a very high status in society today. Damien Hurst or Banksy are not just UK household names but enjoy world wide fame. I do think though that with some artists  (like Hurst) their fame is partly based on the shock factor of their work, a kind of notoriety more than an appreciation. There do seem still to be a lot of male artists but more and more women are coming through. I think the status of artists like, Turner Prize winning, Tracey Emin  helps with this. I notice in galleries that there does seem to be more other art media being displayed now not just painting. A good example of this is the Whitworth in Manchester. They regularly have textile and photography displays. I also feel that the top photographers seem to have a similar status now to their fine art contemporaries. In many ways it is easier for the general public to access the work of a photographer (through magazines and the internet) than it is a painter or sculptor.

What political, economic or social factors might be influencing practitioners of art in the west today?

As no two artists are the same it is difficult to say categorically what acts as each ones individual influence but some general suggestions can be made. Perhaps in terms of politics it might be the recent Brexit vote, or the American election. Economically people might be influenced by the ongoing austerity brought on by the 2007-8 financial crisis. In terms of social issues it could be immigration.