Modern Art has broken away from traditional applications, and it isn’t necessarily a good thing

Overview

Art is an expression of human creative skill and imagination. Moreover, it reflects where we are as a society, and a culture, at a given moment in time.

 

Artistic techniques have progressed substantially throughout our 12,000 years of ‘advanced’ civilization, but recently, (the last 100 years) expression through art has taken on a much different approach. The focus of this article will be on painted art specifically, but in the future, I will dive into various other areas of human creativity such as music, dance, and architecture.

 

Furthermore, I want to compare ancient art to modern day art, as this is an excellent way to gain insight on how humanity has progressed throughout history, as well as where we are heading regarding expressive art.

 

Classical Art

There are several stages of art development within human history. It began with stone age art; this period lasted from 30,000 B.C. all the way up to 2500 B.C. and was centered around cave paintings. Since then, human expression through art has taken a marvellous journey from Egyptian stories told through hieroglyphics on walls, all the way to the middle ages, and into impressionism and futurism.

 

Below we can visualize the transformation art has taken through humanity’s existence, beginning nearly 30,000 years ago, up until today.

 

Stone Age (30,000 B.C. to 2500 B.C.)
Stone Age (30,000 B.C. to 2500 B.C.)
Mesopotamian (3500 b.c.–539 b.c.)
Mesopotamian (3500 b.c.–539 b.c.)
Egyptian (3100 b.c.–30 b.c.)
Egyptian (3100 b.c.–30 b.c.)
Greek and Hellenistic (850 b.c.–31 b.c.)
Greek and Hellenistic (850 b.c.–31 b.c.)
Roman (500 b.c.– a.d. 476)
Roman (500 b.c.– a.d. 476)
Indian, Chinese, and Japanese(653 b.c.–a.d. 1900)
Indian, Chinese, and Japanese(653 b.c.–a.d. 1900)
Byzantine and Islamic (a.d. 476–a.d.1453)
Byzantine and Islamic (a.d. 476–a.d.1453)
Middle Ages (500–1400)
Middle Ages (500–1400)
Early and High Renaissance (1400–1550)
Early and High Renaissance (1400–1550)
Venetian and Northern Renaissance (1430–1550)
Venetian and Northern Renaissance (1430–1550)
Mannerism (1527–1580)
Mannerism (1527–1580)
Baroque (1600–1750)
Baroque (1600–1750)
Neoclassical (1750–1850)
Neoclassical (1750–1850)
Romanticism (1780–1850)
Romanticism (1780–1850)
Realism (1848–1900)
Realism (1848–1900)
Impressionism (1865–1885)
Impressionism (1865–1885)
Post-Impressionism (1885–1910)
Post-Impressionism (1885–1910)
Fauvism and Expressionism (1900–1935)
Fauvism and Expressionism (1900–1935)
Cubism, Futurism, Supremativism, Constructivism, De Stijl
(1905–1920)
Cubism, Futurism, Supremativism, Constructivism, De Stijl (1905–1920)
Abstract Expressionism (1940s–1950s) and Pop Art
(1960s)
Abstract Expressionism (1940s–1950s) and Pop Art (1960s)

 

Abstract Expressionism (1940s–1950s) and Pop Art
(1960s)
Abstract Expressionism (1940s–1950s) and Pop Art (1960s)
Postmodernism and Deconstructivism (1970– )
Postmodernism and Deconstructivism (1970– )

 

Simply observing art from different time periods, different cultures, and different religions gives us an interesting perspective on human evolution regarding self-expression. From cave drawings to repeated pictures of Marilyn Monroe, we have come a long way in our ability to paint what we see: what we feel.

 

But as I look at paintings from different periods in history, and how art through painting has progressed through time, I can’t help but feel like art has gotten worse. When I say art, I am talking about paintings on canvas; this is entirely aside from music, clothing and dance, etc.

 

Later movements in art, specifically the abstract expressionism and postmodernism eras, seem to lack any real talent. Yes, they evoke a feeling when you are observing them, but the technicality behind these works seems lacklustre.

 

When I look at world renowned works of art from this past century (not all of them of course), I feel like I can pick up a paintbrush and do better – not because I am a gifted artist, but because our expectations for what is ‘good art’ have fallen drastically. As a society, I feel like exceptional art has become an exclusivity – something that can only be enjoyed and understood if you are in the financial elite.

 

When I say this, I am not excluding the millions of pieces of art that come at the hands of humans globally, I am talking about the most expensive pieces ever sold – the pieces of art that are so amazing, so immaculate, that a price tag anywhere south of $50 million just does not do the work justice.

 

There is still great art out there – by great art, I mean art that can’t just be done by anyone. When I think of art – paintings in specific – I think of something that has taken time to create. I picture detail. Most importantly, for art to carry worth to me, it needs to be something that I myself would not be able to duplicate because, well, I am not an artist.

 

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David McDonald

David McDonald

David is a 19-year-old Canadian student currently attending the University of Guelph. He currently studies Public Management and economics with hopes of one day becoming an accomplished journalist. David enjoys reporting on global events and actively try to make a difference in the world.
David McDonald

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