True, the first settlers of bohemia -- which was then identicalwith the avant-garde -- turned out soon to be demonstrativelyuninterested in politics. Nevertheless, without the circulationof revolutionary ideas in the air about them, they would neverhave been able to isolate their concept of the "bourgeois"in order to define what they were not. Nor, without the moralaid of revolutionary political attitudes would they have had thecourage to assert themselves as aggressively as they did againstthe prevailing standards of society. Courage indeed was neededfor this, because the avant-garde's emigration from bourgeoissociety to bohemia meant also an emigration from the markets ofcapitalism, upon which artists and writers had been thrown bythe falling away of aristocratic patronage. (Ostensibly, at least,it meant this -- meant starving in a garret -- although, as wewill be shown later, the avant-garde remained attached to bourgeoissociety precisely because it needed its money.)
The rise of consumerism in the United States and Europe in the 1950s and '60s generated an artistic interest in popular culture, however, often with an eye towards dismantling the divide between ostensibly “fine art” and mass appeal; nowhere was this more notable than with the rise of in the United States.
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The peasants who settled in the cities as proletariat and pettybourgeois learned to read and write for the sake of efficiency,but they did not win the leisure and comfort necessary for theenjoyment of the city's traditional culture. Losing, nevertheless,their taste for the folk culture whose background was the countryside,and discovering a new capacity for boredom at the same time, thenew urban masses set up a pressure on society to provide themwith a kind of culture fit for their own consumption. To fillthe demand of the new market, a new commodity was devised: ersatzculture, kitsch, destined for those who, insensible to the valuesof genuine culture, are hungry nevertheless for the diversionthat only culture of some sort can provide.
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But even during the Renaissance, and as long as Western artwas endeavoring to perfect its technique, victories in this realmcould only be signalized by success in realistic imitation, sincethere was no other objective criterion at hand. Thus the massescould still find in the art of their masters objects of admirationand wonder. Even the bird that pecked at the fruit in Zeuxis'picture could applaud.
A fine line between art and kitsch - Forbes
It is a platitude that art becomes caviar to the general whenthe reality it imitates no longer corresponds even roughly tothe reality recognized by the general. Even then, however, theresentment the common man may feel is silenced by the awe in whichhe stands of the patrons of this art. Only when he becomes dissatisfiedwith the social order they administer does he begin to criticizetheir culture. Then the plebian finds courage for the first timeto voice his opinions openly. Every man, from the Tammany aldermanto the Austrian house-painter, finds that he is entitled to hisopinion. Most often this resentment toward culture is to be foundwhere the dissatisfaction with society is a reactionary dissatisfactionwhich expresses itself in revivalism and puritanism, and latestof all, in fascism. Here revolvers and torches begin to be mentionedin the same breath as culture. In the name of godliness or theblood's health, in the name of simple ways and solid virtues,the statue-smashing commences.
21/02/2014 · Just what is it
In the Middle Ages the plastic artist paid lip service at leastto the lowest common denominators of experience. This even remainedtrue to some extent until the seventeenth century. There was availablefor imitation a universally valid conceptual reality, whose orderthe artist could not tamper with. The subject matter of art wasprescribed by those who commissioned works of art, which werenot created, as in bourgeois society, on speculation. Preciselybecause his content was determined in advance, the artist wasfree to concentrate on his medium. He needed not to be philosopher,or visionary, but simply artificer. As long as there was generalagreement as to what were the worthiest subjects for art, theartist was relieved of the necessity to be original and inventivein his "matter" and could devote all his energy to formalproblems. For him the medium became, privately, professionally,the content of his art, even as his medium is today the publiccontent of the abstract painter's art -- with that difference,however, that the medieval artist had to suppress his professionalpreoccupation in public -- had always to suppress and subordinatethe personal and professional in the finished, official work ofart. If, as an ordinary member of the Christian community, hefelt some personal emotion about his subject matter, this onlycontributed to the enrichment of the work's public meaning. Onlywith the Renaissance do the inflections of the personal becomelegitimate, still to be kept, however, within the limits of thesimply and universally recognizable. And only with Rembrandt do"lonely" artists begin to appear, lonely in their art.