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The Arts Room General What is the place of High Art today?
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What is the place of High Art today?
I wonder what artistic medium is the most affecting of today, 2009. And to go with this question I also wonder if the mediums of old are slowly evaporating into the vapors of history.

As I don't want to answer my own question right away I think I'll look back to the mediums that once ruled the day. I guess since the age of the Greeks it has always been the high arts that have won the day. By high art I mean theater, painting, sculpture, poetry, literature, and classical music. They all origin to shadowy points in history where you and I doubtfully can trace our ancestry. And as far as I can tell they all experienced their hey days in the 18th and 19th centuries. That's when the greats lived and most of us can list our favorites. They all mutually shared the spotlight and played to each other. Music overlapped with theater and created opera and representations of poetry and literary figures showed up in all ranges of painting and sculpture. The different arts formed a sort of collective that monopolized western thought and culture. They mutually inspired philosophy and political revolution and all worked towards perfection independently as well.

But I wonder if their time is up. It would be silly to suggest that the high arts still hold the scepter above all else in the realm of art today. Film and television and radio can all reach their required audiences with an ease that the old arts cannot. Theater tickets are priced high , and classical music is even higher. The stores of artwork are limited based on where you live and poetry is hardly even considered any more. It's amazing to me that the poets would have been the big celebrities back in the day. Lord Byron would have been a regular Brad Pitt and despite his hunchback even Alexander Pope would have been a hit among the ladies.

And though I hardly want to admit it, those names will only continue to be forgotten among newer generations and the high arts will continue to dwindle. Though I can't conceive of a day where they will be entirely forgotten, in my opinion the high arts should seek new and inspired ways to reach the youth to at least slow their withdrawal from society.

As THINQon is obviously a community that cherishes these arts I wonder what you all have to say about their disappearance. They certainly don't hold as much power any more. Where once they could shape every facet of life and politics now they are merely a sidenote next to the laugh track we hear on television.

Which brings me to my other question. Can the film and television of today, the obvious prevalent artistic mediums, can they possibly hold the same meaning to society as the high art of old did? Can they channel the same characteristics that has us qualify the art of old as high art? What springs to mind is satire I guess. The Daily Show and Colbert Report are wonderful testaments to the spirit of Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift. But can the spirit of theater be channeled? It's hard to say but certainly there are many art worthy movies and even now there are some amazing television shows that qualify as Homeresque epics. The Wire is fantastic and so is the Sopranos.

Is there a way for the two forms of art reconcile? Can we discover new things about the old arts through new mediums? Is PBS the only thing saving the arts of old from being entirely turned to sand? I hope not.
I hear you! As a person who enjoys dabbling in watercolours and oils, I also see paintings as "disappearing". Digital scrapbooking is much less demanding, easily accessable and easily transported. Which I am sure is true of most technological things today. Thinking of my two teenage sons reading a book, is almost laughable. Even though we used to regularly visit our library when they were younger, and they both loved books and reading. Such a shame!

As far as theatre is concerned, no TV show or  film can capture the joy of being on stage, or of being in a live audience. This is also a loss for all concerned.

I don't know the answer to this question, but I do hope that all the arts are not forgotten.
Was it somewhere here that I read that when Alaric the Visigoth sacked Rome, the craft of bricklaying was lost for 900 years?

Hanna, you mention the great art of the 18th-19th c. (and, I would add, at least some of the 20th). But this isn't the only high point; the 17th century was a great time for English theater, for instance, and before that the Renaissance was worth showing up for, and perhaps someone can enlighten us as to the development of monastic music and Hildegard of Bingen; and if we go back far enough, we get to the Greeks.

So I would ask the question differently: is there a cyclical pattern here, or at least some kind of extended fluctuation? It seems that there are whole periods of human history where there is relatively little access to, or innovation in, what you called "high art" (and yet there is always someone drawing slightly more interesting patterns on pots, or decorating their hair-combs). How might one start to think about these large-scale shifts?

One thing I'd say to start things off (see also the discussion on Guernica) is that people are somehow obsessed with recording rather than interpreting, and (very much related) they are willing to delegate the recording process to machines rather than using their own bodies. I would predict a long period of disengagement from the body, and many nightmares about vampires, before there is a backlash and people begin again to pay attention to the physicality and craftsmanship which is a necessary part of great art. 
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Latest Post: October 1, 2009 at 11:45 PM
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