I have a degree in Fine Art as well as in Graphic Design. I think quite a bit about both. Lately, I have been thinking more about the former. I really think about what the future of fine art is. For the most part, I think that fine art, and when I say that, I mean the 2D art of painting and the like, met its last high point during the abstract expressionist period. I justify that as that was the point when the theory of art brought us to a pinnacle of thinking and interacting with art in a new way. Past that point, the art world has been fumbling around with what to do next.
There has been plenty of interesting works from that time until now, to be sure, but really, the next step has failed to materialize. I think the community in general kind of feels that way, but keeps it to themselves. The paths taken now are either refinement of techniques or retooling previous ideas. Nothing evolutionarily new has really shown up. I guess the question is what is there left to paint? Perhaps the better question is what if the action of artistic painting has been surpassed by society?
Maybe painting has been made irrelevant? In the times when painting was big, it was basically the television of the day – the works were packed with allegory. People could read them like a drama. This reading modern people have lost, for the most part and paintings have fallen to whether or not they are pretty. Making the work’s reason for existence more about decoration than meaning.
Perhaps some other form will replace 2D art? I am not sure what that is. I think it actually might be a form of graphic design. That’s a pretty funny statement as graphic design has always seemed to be the redheaded stepchild of the art community and certainly looked down upon by the fine art community. The reason I think this is that while fine art has lost its story telling capability, graphic design was specifically designed to do just that. In fact, a lot of the ‘fine art’ of antiquity was actually conceived as a sort of advertising, so it seems only fitting that the art world coast back to it.
To be honest, I think that graphic design, at least in terms of print work doesn’t go far enough as the standard-bearer for the next fine art movement. I think really that ‘media design’ is what will really take us there. Technology will drive us to new perceptions of what fine art will be. It will probably be interactive and time-sensitive and it will be nothing like looking at frescos or going to a specific place to view them. Art will just happen, if we want it to and sometimes even if we don’t. I am not sure how you would ‘own’ the art or how to monetize it but there will be structures in place.
Perhaps we can look to music to understand what sort of changes are in store. Initially, one had to go and seek out music at venues. Travelling had to occur and if you wanted a particular sound. Great geography had to be forded to find something specific or wait in hopes that it might come to you. Then music found the capability of distribution through specific tangible media, like piano rolls and records. Even greater means of dissemination, but still people spent concentration listening to music. Next came portable reproducers where people could have music anywhere at any time. People could hear music as they did other things. Music became an environmental item that was no longer an event of focus and finally with the electronic distribution capabilities it is merely a commodity, like a print on the wall, that brings the scene together. To make music matter, again people go to live performances.
How does this relate to fine art? I think that fine art is at that stage where it is a commodity rather than an item of focus and it is waiting for the performance aspect to make it relevant again. I guess it must become an interactive event.