Context 2, Essence

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Two more important change agents not mentioned in Context 1 are Psychology and Photography. They made their appearance on the world stage in the 19th century and were part of the dynamic cultural mix leading to a radical upheaval in world views and values on the move into the 20th century that continues in an ever evolving process today.

In this particular addition to my blog, I propose to go beyond the facade of referring to names, anecdotes, and dates in a sequential, detailed accounting of visual art historical events. This in order to try to identify at least one aspect of the root cause, the essence, of the process that these change agents represent.

If a clue that affords us insight into the essence of cultural change can be found, we will have a better chance in coming to some understanding of the human condition underlying the changes in the visual arts in our recent history. These changes have posed an understandable challenge to those who rely on the rich historical tapestry of Western art for criteria in deciding what is and what is not art.

I found the following highly compressed clue embedded in the history of Western cultural change dating from the 16th century to the present day in the book Cosmos and Psyche, page 45, by Cultural Historian, Professor of Philosophy and Depth Psychology, Richard Tarnas:

“While the Copernican revolution (1508-12) impelled and symbolized the outward-moving ascent and construction of the modern self that began in the Renaissance and brought forth the Enlightenment, the depth psychology revolution reflected the inward-turning descent and deconstruction on the self that commenced at the end of the 19th century and brought forth the postmodern era.”

While this clue may seem obscure, the essence of something is not always obvious is it. More on this later.