It’s interesting, but is it art?

Portrait of Joyce (Blue View)

Art history has taken us into some very interesting and sometimes strange terrains and spaces these past 150 years. What’s amazing is how much pop culture has been influenced by fringe and almost unknown artists in terms of the wider public, just as our clothing fashions are influenced by events that took place last year on a runway in Paris.

Thanks to the Duluth Art Institute we had an opportunity to re-visit the 1980 Robert Hughes eight-part documentary called “Shock of the New” which is a helpful overview of what occurred in the arts from the late 1900s to Pop art and Happenings. In a surprise follow-up DAI curator Annie Dugan gave us a 2005 sequel/addendum in which Hughes looks back and makes some additional observations.

There are reasons the wider public struggles to grasp what the fringe players are up to, but Hughes and art critic Greg Volk (who spoke at UMD a few weeks back) help bring insight and perspective to many basic issues regarding modern and post-modern art. My personal observations are assembled here for consideration and discussion.

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