I started this semester out with a few guiding questions to lead this blog writing process. Essentially, I wanted to determine if the art world was becoming more mainstream so I asked myself: “Is art molding our culture or is our culture molding the arts?” Audience, technology, context and place were three reoccurring trends that helped me come to a conclusion.
Here are some highlights:
Takashi Murakami’s retrospective in Versailles was not well received by the French who believed that his art in the palace was a “Disneyfication” of the monument. However, bringing the contemporary fine art into a new context allowed for an atypical audience to see it. Tourists probably did not go to Versailles to see Murakami’s sculptures but they had no choice at the time of the show. On the other hand the show created buzz in France, which inspired the locals to visit to see what all the news was about.
The Abstract Expressionist show at the MoMA has expanded across the whole city including landmarks important to the AbEx artists. The museum created a user friendly website as well as interactive apps for iphones and ipads. By taking advantage of technology in an innovative way, a broader audience can “see” the exhibit. The MoMA has created an experience for those who are physically in NYC and can visit the museum as well as those who cannot.
In October, the Guggenheim had a contest where 20,000 YouTube videos were submitted and jurors decided which ones should be included in the “YouTube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video”. This got me thinking about what makes a piece of art museum worthy. We are used to watching YouTube video’s on a tiny computer screen in the comfort of our own homes, but in this case, the curators are showing them to us in a new context: on a big screen in a museum with other museum visitors. Are these museum visitors even the same audience that YouTube typically has?
David Hoey and Linda Fargo are the in-house window designers for Bergdorf Goodnmans in New York City. They consider themselves solely artists who happen to be creating their art in a commercial setting. They are physically creating the face of a department store through elaborate dioramas and decorative displays. The context for this art is 5th Avenue, not in a traditional museum, and the audience is window shoppers. They might not even realize that they are looking at art.
My research has gone full circle ending up with a post about Takashi Murakami’s participation in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade itself is an interesting juxtaposition of tradition and commercialization. The executive producer of the parade, Robin Hall, believes that it the parade is a snapshot of American culture, which should also include the excitement of the art world. That is why they decided in 2005 to seek out internationally known artists to get involved in the parade. This year Takashi Murakami designed two floats and walked in the parade in a funny costume that he also designed. This is an instance where his art is brought into another new context: out of a museum and into the streets. The audience of the parade is mostly kids who will enjoy the cartoon-y elements of Murakami’s art. The children watching the parade won’t recognize these characters or even the artist but it does brings the artist to their attention.
So what is the answer to the questions I posed?
I believe that the art world is molding society in a new way, by taking advantage of technology. Through online resources, apps for phones and ipads, and other innovative tools a broader audience can appreciate many aspects of the art world and get their intake of art culture. There has been an effort to bring the fine arts to the masses in unique contexts: the parade, Versailles, department store windows. And I don’t think that it is a negative to take advantage of mainstream methods of reaching new and old audiences. It would be a mistake not to stay current with the way society is receiving information and spending their time. It will lead to an interesting dynamic between artists, museums, galleries and viewers.