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Lecture 7: High Vs. Low Culture

Questions of taste within society, the fine arts are seen as high culture where as the rest of the arts such as graphic design are seen as low culture, culture for the masses whereas high culture is for the elitist

‘Avant-garde’ is a term that is applied to art and culture with the apposing term being ‘Kitsch’

Dictionary defines Avant-garde as work that is progressive and innovative, society can also be deemed avant-garde, a person can also be avant-garde in their actions by being radical, experimental and challenging, one can also be part of the avant-garde

The term is modernist term that can also be used to describe a group of people that are progressive, the term however has become very over used and used everywhere within society and has lost some if not all of it’s original integrity

The term is often used in a simplistic manner within fashion to describe the style and work of some designers

The term is used everywhere outside of the realms of fine art where it originated, it is also no longer just a term for art and design, it’s meaning has become broadened and perhaps misconstrued

Marcel Duchamp - a typical avant-garde artist, he aims to be shocking and sensational within his work and upset the established order of society

Avant-garde in art means trying to do something different and not just to be stylistic or on an aesthetic level and also to upset the establishment of the everyday man

‘Fauves’ the work of self taught painters, where creating art very different to other art being created at the time, it was very experimental and represented an attack of the established art world

Aggressiveness formed an element of this work in that the art was breaking the existing rule book

Politics was also part of the art being created, not just being experimental, politics influenced the work being created

As avant-gardism grows, being radical and shocking become the qualities by which good art is judged and defined against, this becomes a fetish for artists

However this quality leads to ‘experiment for experiments sake’ and content takes president over style - meaning of the work has a greater priority

These qualities also become prioritized within the work of artists, innovation - new, experimentation - process, originality - to copy others is bad, creative genius - hidden.

Artist begin to speak about how creative inspiration comes from within them and this creativity must be let out

Post-modernist theory questions is anything new? Everything is always as a result of what has come before it

Challenging convention becomes a house style for artists, therefore challenging convention become convention

Within design education, educators can not teach students to be radical as they are taught to a curriculum

Throughout history has never been about being creative, this has come from art and design education, in the 16, 17 and 18th century only higher class people would go to art school, where they were taught to duplicate to work of great artists and it was not until they replicate that work perfectly were they allowed to create work of their own, however the art that artists made wasn’t the art they wanted to create

Only the church and members of the aristocracy where the people who brought art, therefore there was a very limited market for art, art was never about being creative it was about copying the work of a ‘master’, it was never about freedom

As society modernizes, the market for art develop, this is the time when artists become free and they are free to make the art they want to make

Although new styles of art begin to develop the work ultimately still needs to be sold , artists still needed to produce work that could be sold

Many artists believe they are above and beyond there work and therefore it is the fault of the people if they do not understand the work, the public are viewed as ‘stupid’ for not understanding the work

Within 20th century art, artists are viewed as above and higher than the average public and the world is not ready for the work they are producing and will in future make more sense and have greater meaning and understanding to the public

Van-guard a term coined by the french was used to describe the elite and the people that pave the way of the future, much alike the van guard of the army who go in fighting first before the rest of the army follow

Avant-garde artists are paving the way for the future as avant-gardism wanted and believed it could change the world and the politics in it, it developed repeatedly throughout the 20th century

Two attitudes towards art became apparent art that should change and better the world and there is art that is concerned with being experimental and has no engagement with the world this is referred to as ‘art for art’s sake’

Art for art’s sake dominated much of 21th century art thinking and practice

Clive Bell - discussed the relationship and combination of lines and colour which has the power to move somebody emotionally this is known as significant form

‘Rise of the critics’ Critics would write about why certain art was good, these people developed careers in explaining art that was hard to understand, these critics created theories about the work which artists then played to these theories and then other artists then followed

It is said that great intelligence is needed to understand significant form and if you do not understand significant form then you are stupid

Art for Art’s sake dominated the 20th century, avant-garde and kitsch represented the divide between art of importance and everything else

Haywain original painting is not kitsch whereas framed prints and plates of the same painting are deemed kitsch, recontextualizing art is seen as making the art kitsch, Kitsch is essentially everything that is not avant-garde 

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