Art - Past, Present and Future - Part 4

by Arthur L Browning - Date: 2007-04-25 - Word Count: 660 Share This!

There were a lot of technological breakthroughs as cultures were able to mass produce decorative pieces for an increasingly stable and widespread market. One instance of this, images could be easily made by a printing press once a plate with line drawings was manufactured.

These plates had been developed in earlier times using wood, stone and ceramic materials. Now metals like tin and steel were used and reused for book illustrations and wall decor. This made line renderings and prints much more available.

Color and pigment technology also made a heavy mark in decor and art. Machine processing of natural pigments as well as developing chemically created pigments, inks, dyes, paints and ceramic stains allowed craftsmen and artists to greatly broaden their palettes.

These developments essentially provided for decades of artistic experimentation. Buyer and collector taste followed in some locales over various periods of time.

In sculpture we see reproductions increasing as well as demand for them. The materials used were often less expensive but might actually be more consistently supplied because of industrial processes. At one time aluminum was more expensive than platinum because technology had not yet made aluminum widely available. Today aluminum is one of the metals of choice for many sculptors.

The effects of these improvements on the means of creating art encouraged experimentation - not only with materials and techniques - but with style. These developments not only encouraged experimentation, they demanded it. For any artist pushing the limits of creativity the demand was two fold 1) be original 2) escape the commonplace of the culture. These demands were essential to cutting-edge art.

These technological improvements essentially surpassed much of what had been done in prior centuries that passed for high art. These improvements were in part machine-assisted. As we will see machines not only assisted but became a part of art itself - and in the future will work with artists and the culture to create and interpret art.

Three specific examples of artists responding to possibilities and challenging barriers that had to be broken come to my mind. I will talk about them briefly.

First, color - which could further a composition past the monochromatic print or photograph was pushed by several schools. Many artists before the Impressionists relied on vivid color as a major element in their works. The photo and print had made depiction of form and shadow a commonplace event, but photography and prints had not yet equalled the possibility of vivid color.

Second, form - again interpretation of a form by abstraction had been done before as part of the routine style in ancient cultures. But now photography and prints could depict form and shadow so well and in such a variety of inexpensive ways that form needed reinterpretation in original and unique ways if it was to surpass the machine assisted and copied versions. Picasso's Cubism was the first major break in expression of form. But Cezanne, among many others, had challenged form - in Cezanne's case by creating structure with color when he painted landscapes of the mountains of his homeland. And photography and prints had not yet equalled the possibilities of a stylized form.

Third, color (again) - because as machine created color became more vivid artists found that they could and should reinterpret color. The most striking reinterpretation of color came from the Fauves. Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck and others seemingly substituted any color for another, and were labelled the "Wild Beasts" by a French critic, and the name stuck. This pushed the use of color past the optical abilities of the photograph or of the color printer, it pushed color within the brain of the viewer. These Fauvist color systems, although illogical, had sensational and perceptual power. Color is now reinterpreted by many artists.

- - You can read all the parts of this series of articles at Contemporary Art Gallery Magazine with the link below. There are four parts published so far and there will be two more parts about the present and future of art in upcoming editions of CAG online magazine.

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Arthur Browning began his career teaching technical writing in a small midwestern university for 15 years. He later editted and published a national professional journal for some ten years. He is now an investor. His interests include art collecting, web marketing, writing.

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