19 May 2013

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Art As Social Commentary: A Match Made In Heaven

Society is a fluid construct, in a constant state of flux as issues that affect it move in and out of fashion, and then is some cases, back in again. Within this complex system, art has given the people who exist within it a platform to have their voice heard, the means of carrying a message that attempts to make sense of the world around them, or in some cases, protest against it. Throughout time there have been countless art movements that have reflected the society, defined by their style, technique, time frame and artistic ideal that allows them to carry the public, social and economic issues of their time. Here we explore four of the most significant and influential art movements the world has ever seen.

Art As A Social Commentary
Image by Samdecle

Society is a fluid construct, in a constant state of flux as issues that affect it move in and out of fashion, and then is some cases, back in again. Within this complex system, art has given the people who exist within it a platform to have their voice heard, the means of carrying a message that attempts to make sense of the world around them, or in some cases, protest against it.

Throughout time there have been countless art movements that have reflected the society, defined by their style, technique, time frame and artistic ideal that allows them to carry the public, social and economic issues of their time.

Here we explore four of the most significant and influential art movements the world has ever seen.


Renaissance
The renaissance art movement flourished in Italy across three centuries from the late 14th century to the early 16th century. Meaning "rebirth”, the renaissance period saw an awakening of the principles found in the classical ages of Greece and Rome.

For the art of the time, these principles were a focus on form and beauty.  Key practitioners such as Leonardo Di Vinci and Michelangelo displayed unprecedented technique to produce masterpieces depicting the perfect physical specimens, based on exacting scientific and anatomical accuracy.

The status of the artist flourished within society as their services were in great demand during a time of massive prosperity in Italy, as wealthy clients wished to have their form immortalised via their painted masterpieces.

Dada
In comparison to Renaissance, the Dada art movement was extremely short-lived, lasting only 6 years from 1916 to 1923. Starting in Northern Europe in the midst of the First World War, Dadaism was art created in direct protest to the cultural, social and political establishments that people within the movement held responsible for the outbreak of the war.

Dada art work, in style, looked to destroy the artistic values that preceded them at every opportunity, in a manner that looked to undermine tradition. Their stance was anti-art, producing not only art pieces, but also resorting to violence and confrontation at establishments such as galleries and libraries to fight for their voice to be heard.  

Pop Art
Pop Art is a movement that could not be more different to Dadaism in terms of its inspiration, but is still inexplicably shaped by the society of its time. Influenced by a sense of optimism after the Second World War, Pop Art was the response to the growth of a consumerist mentality, as well as pop culture becoming globalised in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Like Dadaism, however, Pop Art shared contempt for established form, attempting to break free from convention through its fun, vibrant, colourful form and sense of youth that was ready to embrace the increasing influence of media.

Street Art
The newest of the art movements featured, street art is found in urban, outdoor spaces. Usually taking the form of graffiti, artists use guerrilla and covert tactics to administer their pieces to the landscape because of its associations with criminality.

The art of the movement takes to the street as it allows its perpetrators to reach a wider audience than the art that is found within exhibitions. Street art is a product of the society exists within as it allows artists a platform to use their talents to protest against issues they feel strongly about.

The best street art invites an audience to think, by providing a line of social commentary surrounding the political concerns of our time. 

What is your experience of art as a form of social commentary? Share your thoughts below.


Featured image:
 
License: Creative Commons image source 


About Today's Contributor:
Blogger Stevie Carpenter explores how four of the most interesting art movements in history have provided artist’s with a voice to commentate on the society that surrounds them. He writes for Art Gallery.


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