CONTEXT

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In order to provide a context for the direction that I have taken in my work, I propose to include my views on some aspects of the 19th and 20th visual arts and their cultural milieu as I see them today. I have done that to some extent in very broad strokes in this website already, and I do not intend to go into a lot of detail here as so much has been written on this subject in one form or another by others. Having said that, here are some further thoughts along these lines.

There seems to be at least three more obvious ways ( we will explore a fourth subtle way later) of giving expression to our experience of the world we live in by means of the visual arts. One way is on a superficial level, another is on a deeper level, and a third can be somewhere in between. The artist of merit who has access to the deeper currents that animate the events of the day, has an intrinsic link to the forces that give impetus to these events be they religious, scientific, technological, the clash of world views, or the riot of armies.

It is interesting to note in this regard that Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) and his subsequent collaboration with Georges Braque in the development of Cubism (1908 – 14) ¬†coincided with the outbreak of the First World War (1914 – 18, over 11 million killed). While these two historical events are distinctly different in form and scale, they nevertheless can be seen as two concrete examples of the invisible underlying forces ¬†on the move at that time. There is a long list of other change agents in the sciences (the new physics etc.), technologies (flying machines, motor cars etc.), and the humanities (world view changes etc.) that contributed to an assault on traditional modern values going forward into the 20th and 21st centuries.

This process of cultural and social upheaval received another massive blow with the eruption of World War Two (1939 – 45, over 59 million killed) that, while its original centre of gravity was in Europe, ultimately pulled the rest of the world into its black hole. The combined pressures of the above called into question all former Western cultural constructs under the rubric of Postmodernism.

More threads to string together next time.