Modern Art, the Art Critic and the Disengagement and Re-engagement of Art: A Comparative Historical Perspective on the Social Construction of Artistic Recognition

By Janet M. C. Burns.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Artistic modernism began in the late nineteenth century in Western Europe with the Impressionists break from the academy and the rise of the independent art market and the coming to prominence of the art critic. Throughout the twentieth century a number of internationally recognized artists and artistic movements emerged from within societies undergoing social change. All of these movements were supported by rising social classes within those societies and by vociferous art critics or other public intellectuals. This paper describes the rise to prominence of artists within four modernist art movements and highlights the significant role of the art critic. The concluding section discusses the irony that while the art critic arose to defend and promote particular artists and art movements, it is possible that one unintended consequence was the reification of contemporary art and its consequent disengagement. The four movements discussed are the Mexican Muralists, the Group of Seven, the CoBrA, and the New York School of Abstract Expressionism. Urban graffiti is postulated a new form of artistic re-engagement.

Keywords: Visual Culture, Public Intellectuals, Sociology of Art, Comparative Analysis, Canada, Mexico, The United States of America, Western Europe

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.291-298. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 537.225KB).

Dr. Janet M. C. Burns

Professor, Department of Social Science, University of New Brunswick, Canada


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