History of Visual Art Education; The consideration of art and artists as it now morphs into a billion dollar industry and what now counts for art (or not).
From the earliest days of man, we have been expressing ourselves through the medium of visual arts. Our first historical, artistic illustrations can be traced back to cave drawings thousands of years ago. However, the idea of the artist is relatively new within the scope of humanity.
Before the Renaissance, artists merely referred to as artisans. While they carved statues, painted or molded objects out of thin air, they were nothing more than just “workers” within a medium.
It wasn’t until the renaissance that people like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo inspired the position of “artist” within society. It was due to the element of design that incorporated into the work itself. Since then the “fine arts” have been around until present day. Visual artists now include subgroups such as installation, video art, conceptual works, assemblage and so forth.
Academic Visual Arts
The study of art within the world of Academia similarly spawned out of the renaissance and covered elements such as subject matter, form, message, composition, color and other items regulated under the sanctioned perception of ‘what art is’ at the time of inception.
If an artist were not following the trends established by the predominant academies, they were excluded from exhibitions organized by the same institutions. Seeing that artists had virtually no other way of showcasing their work, they would adhere to these rules to garner reputation, gain commissions from sales and become a member of the national academy. To be left out would embody the “starving artist” ethos.
It continued up until the 20th century when academies began to change their approach to institutionalizing art and created more freedoms for artists.
The Strange Differentiation between Arts and Crafts
Up until 1900, there were only two classified art forms, namely fine arts and performance arts. Everything else classified as “crafts” which initially was for utilitarian purposes. However, many craftspeople created intricate crafts that had no useful purpose and was just as difficult to achieve as any fine arts painting. Therefore, there is no real justification for the distinction between the two.
One could argue that class had a lot to do with the differentiation. People like Da Vinci were renowned and had connections to the upper levels of their times. The Renaissance version of Joe Schmoe was left to his own devices and thus considered “lesser” than the established artists. Perhaps, for this very same reason, the art they produced was reduced through a class system. It is purely speculative at best. However, it is an interesting point to consider, especially seeing the strict rules that applied to the world of visual arts in the early days.
The Evolution of the Medium
Eventually, as the 20th Century trucked on the evolution of Visual Arts became freer. One thing is certain; Art does not like to be constrained. New art forms started emerging from artists such as Picasso and Braque who created the college (cubism), assemblage and found objects, conceptual art, photomontage, photography and of course video art.
As more of these techniques and disciplines started appearing, it was only a matter of time until they began intertwining and influencing each other. Nowadays it’s quite common to see various forms of art combined with creating something unique and different. With the invention of acrylic paints, the medium evolved even further.
The Industry of Visual Arts
Today, the artist almost see as a god among men. Visual arts is a multi-billion-dollar a year industry and is only getting bigger. These days, however, the concept of art is ambiguous. We’ve seen such installments as a defecated toilet classified as art. Is this truly art?
For some yes, for others no. The bottom line, however, is that art is up to interpretation, and if something evoked emotion and reflection it could be considered as art.
Nonetheless, the most dominant visual art sector today has to be motion pictures. However, we also see a decline in the influence of the motion picture industry with the rising of new technologies. The most influential and most lucrative visual art sector today is video games.
The video game industry generates more money annually than the entire motion picture industry, and the newest releases have large budgets in the creation of the experience.
Some people think that video games are not art. However, I beg to differ. Video games are a new interactive form of art where there is an emotional response coupled with an interactive element that makes it so addictive and lucrative.
In fact, if you don’t think video games are art, I challenge you to look at the match Cuphead and tell me otherwise. This game is a masterpiece in its right.
We can only guess how visual arts will evolve over the next century, however looking at the rapid evolution since the Renaissance; we’re all going to be surprised.
About writer: Lesley Hummings is enjoying her maternity leave in the middle of university studies. However, she’s in touch with the academic routine and is regularly sharing some of her writing findings in her blog. Currently she is hired by WriteMyEssays writing company to produce custom written papers.