Term Paper: Art in America

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Art in America

There was a move away from a product-based aesthetic in the arts (sculpture, painting, etc.) to event or performance based art in the fifties; cite some examples as to why this occurred. For instance: Was this due to a changing political climate? Was it in reaction to what came before? Be as specific as you can.

The move away from product-based art was partially philosophical, rooted in the move to a more postmodern aesthetic, in which art that impacted the viewer's imagination 'in the moment' rather than art that had to 'stand for all time' became en vogue. After the recent horrors of World War II, the idea of permanence began to seem like a lie to ordinary Americans and American artists alike. However, the fusing of art and performance perhaps first became popularized much earlier, in the 1920s, with the rise of cinema in world culture. This was true not simply in popular cinematic art but in artistic works such as the collaboration of the surrealist artist Salvador Dali with the filmmaker Louis Bunuel in their silent classic "Un Chien Andalou" (1929) and other impressionistic, nonlinear art films. Such films exhibited the potential of living, performance-based art to the new century. Art did not have to exist as a static image.

In the 1950s, photographs and films of the techniques of the American painter Jackson Pollock made 'Jack the Dripper's art more accessible to the public, as it exhibited the process of his abstract impressionism and showed that it had more deliberation than mere splattering. "You cannot imagine the impact these photographs, as distinct from the paintings, had on artists world-wide when they were first published in the fifties, to see a man making up art like this. To see him standing into his canvas, to see him throwing down paint was so radical that the pictures had a huge impact on the popular imagination of Pollock" (Varendoe 1999).

The pictures of Pollock at work took the emphasis off of Pollock's product on a canvas, and diverted the audience's focus to his process as an artist. Gradually, the focus on process increased in the minds of the art-consuming public as a result of the rise of the Pop Art movement of Andy Warhol. While former advertising graphic designer Warhol's earliest works were static graphics, like his representations of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell's Soup cans,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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