Today you can call virtually anything “art” and get away with it. One reason for the explosion in what counts as art is that the art world itself has taken up the old theme of getting “art” and “life” back together. Gestures of this kind have lurched between the innocent and the outrageous, from taking quilts into fine art museums or pulp fiction into literature courses, to playing street noises in symphony halls or undergoing plastic surgery on satellite video. The entry of so many eccentric artefacts, writings,noises, and performances into fine art has led some to talk darkly of a “death” of art, or literature, or classical music. Others, wrapped in the banner of postmodernism, agree that the modern fine art system is dead but invite us to dance on its grave in celebration of yet another liberation.
I am less interested in whether we ought to dance or weep than in understanding in how we have come to this place. If we want to make sense of the explosion of what counts as art and the yearning to reunite art and life, we need to understand where the modern ideas and institutions of fine art came from.
»>The modern system of art is not an essence or a fate but something we have made. Art as we have generally understood it is a European invention barely two hundred years old. It was preceded by a broader, more utilitarian system of art that lasted over two thousand years and it is likely to be followed by a third system of the arts. What some critics fear or applaud as the death of art or literature or serious music may only be the end of a particular social institution constructed in the course of the eighteenth century. Yet like so much else that emerged from the Enlightenment, the European idea of fine art was believed to be universal, and European and American armies, missionaries, entrepreneurs, and intellectuals have been doing their best to make it so ever since.
—from Larry Shiner’s ‘The Invention of Art: A Cultural History’ which challenges conventional understanding of Art (artist vs artisan, gender bias, patron vs market, ‘primitive art’ and non existence of autonomous art object in Ancient civilisations etc) and along with this and this is the most useful thing I’ve read concerning Art History. Self initiated learning 4 eva ) (via phoebebishopwright)
And as he wandered on, unconsciously heading in the direction of his apartment, he found himself not far from the dark, rather disreputable street where less than twenty-four hours ago he had followed that abandoned creature to her tawdry yet comfortable lodgings. But why should she particularly be thought of as abandoned? Or this particular street be called disreputable? Curious how, seduced by words, again and again one labels and condemns people, destinies and streets through sheer idle force of habit.