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Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Use this forum to have philosophical discussions about aesthetics and art. What is art? What is beauty? What makes art good? You can also use this forum to discuss philosophy in the arts, namely to discuss the philosophical points in any particular movie, TV show, book or story.
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Mikel
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Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by Mikel » July 9th, 2015, 9:34 pm

I had an art history teacher that used to tell me that you can determine how close a society is to crumbling by looking at its art. Any society that enjoys realism in art doesnt have much of a chance at staying around long. Do any of you know whether abstract or realistic art will ever be able to live in the same world?

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Re: Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » July 13th, 2015, 9:30 am

Mikel wrote:I had an art history teacher that used to tell me that you can determine how close a society is to crumbling by looking at its art. Any society that enjoys realism in art doesnt have much of a chance at staying around long. Do any of you know whether abstract or realistic art will ever be able to live in the same world?
The topic question is different from the question that ends your message, which do you mean for us to discuss?

What did your teacher say when you asked him "What do you mean by that?" or "Can you give me some examples?"

He may be thinking of Chinese social realism or the non-decadent art of the Nazis. But what about American realism in the early 20th century? Eakins, Cassatt, Homer, Hopper, Bellows. This was a culture that wasn't exactly crumbling.
fair to say

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Mikel
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Re: Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by Mikel » July 13th, 2015, 9:42 pm

I see your point, 3, and the example in particular that he had for his statement was the fall of Rome....I have never been able to exactly pin the two together, because the reasons for the fall of Roman society differ with every scholar that you ask. I didn't realize that I ended my message with a different question, which I realize from your pointing it out to me. I guess I did veer off course, and I apologize. And I totally see (and agree with) your point on early 20th century realism. Some might even argue that point in time was America's finest hour, and least up until 1929... Thanks for your reply, sir, and keep up the good work!

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Re: Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by Lagayscienza » July 14th, 2015, 3:00 am

I don't know about realism or any other "-ism" in art leading to or being the harbinger of social collapse. As 3uGH7D$MLj points out, one can always find counter examples. I think it might be possible to argue that inflexibility and lack of tolerance on questions of art could be an indication that a society might be as healthy as it could be. But even that would be a long bow to draw.
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Re: Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by Greta » July 14th, 2015, 3:59 am

3uGH7D4MLj wrote:He may be thinking of Chinese social realism or the non-decadent art of the Nazis. But what about American realism in the early 20th century? Eakins, Cassatt, Homer, Hopper, Bellows. This was a culture that wasn't exactly crumbling.
I don't know about "crumbling" but the first half of the 20th century was pretty disastrous, being dominated by two world wars and the Great Depression.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated—Gandhi.

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Re: Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » July 14th, 2015, 7:21 pm

Greta wrote:
3uGH7D4MLj wrote:He may be thinking of Chinese social realism or the non-decadent art of the Nazis. But what about American realism in the early 20th century? Eakins, Cassatt, Homer, Hopper, Bellows. This was a culture that wasn't exactly crumbling.
I don't know about "crumbling" but the first half of the 20th century was pretty disastrous, being dominated by two world wars and the Great Depression.
I suppose, I usually think of the wars as the product of the vicious tribes of Europe, not the US.

I'm inclined to agree with the realism-indicates-a-failing-society idea, although I think it's a weak indicator. There was socialist realism in both Russia and China, required by the government. You could say realism in art often indicates tyranny.

There was that case of art that was too realistic for capitalism, Nelson Rockefeller commissioned Diego Rivera to paint murals in Rockefeller Center. Rivera was a communist sympathizer, painted Lenin and Rockefeller's dad a little too realistically. The painting was stopped, Rivera quit. After that Rockefeller bought only non-objective art.
fair to say

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Re: Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by Greta » July 14th, 2015, 10:41 pm

3uGH7D4MLj wrote:I'm inclined to agree with the realism-indicates-a-failing-society idea, although I think it's a weak indicator. There was socialist realism in both Russia and China, required by the government. You could say realism in art often indicates tyranny.
Interesting point. To start, one would think it would require more training (apart from the most gifted few), which means more reliance on economic systems and less independence.

It would be difficult to draw such a conclusion based on today's society because of the rise of "hyper realist" photography and video. Meanwhile, fantasy art based on distorted hyper realism is booming in 3D digital art, video and games. Society would seem to be pluralistic, although it's possible that the bourgening realism and fantasy broadly represent two cognitive tribes - with rationalists leaning towards realistic art forms and more emotional types tending more towards fantasy. It's obviously a very broad guess and many of us can fairly equally appreciate a range of styles. The main point I've laboured over here is that the "pluralism" of society may be more a case of a few "tribes" rather than an even distribution of diversity, in which case we may be able to draw distinctions between art and societal conditions by looking at the trends amongst the dominant groups and compare with national or global trends.
3uGH7D4MLj wrote:There was that case of art that was too realistic for capitalism, Nelson Rockefeller commissioned Diego Rivera to paint murals in Rockefeller Center. Rivera was a communist sympathizer, painted Lenin and Rockefeller's dad a little too realistically. The painting was stopped, Rivera quit. After that Rockefeller bought only non-objective art.
Nice anecdote. Usually the point of abstraction is to capture a deeper truth than there merely visual or to allow artistic expression for those with ideas but limited technical skills. It can also be used to hide the truth.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated—Gandhi.

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Re: Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » July 15th, 2015, 8:12 am

Greta wrote:It would be difficult to draw such a conclusion based on today's society because of the rise of "hyper realist" photography and video. Meanwhile, fantasy art based on distorted hyper realism is booming in 3D digital art, video and games. Society would seem to be pluralistic, although it's possible that the bourgening realism and fantasy broadly represent two cognitive tribes - with rationalists leaning towards realistic art forms and more emotional types tending more towards fantasy. It's obviously a very broad guess and many of us can fairly equally appreciate a range of styles. The main point I've laboured over here is that the "pluralism" of society may be more a case of a few "tribes" rather than an even distribution of diversity, in which case we may be able to draw distinctions between art and societal conditions by looking at the trends amongst the dominant groups and compare with national or global trends.

You can't really bring the topic, Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?, into the present. Except maybe in dictatorships like North Korea or some mid-eastern ayatollah.

Today we have like you say, pluralism. There was a time when cultural memes were monolithic, determined by fiat from an aristocracy of art critics, or some simple-minded dictator. See Arthur Danto's age of manifestos. No more. We have postmodernism, the cultural meta-narratives have been splintered into a thousand parallel universes.
fair to say

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Re: Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by Atreyu » July 24th, 2015, 9:13 pm

Mikel wrote:I had an art history teacher that used to tell me that you can determine how close a society is to crumbling by looking at its art. Any society that enjoys realism in art doesnt have much of a chance at staying around long. Do any of you know whether abstract or realistic art will ever be able to live in the same world?
I think there is some general truth in this idea.

My general opinion is that the less in contact a civilization is with "the Abstract", then the closer it is to collapsing. But there is a lot behind this idea, and I'm not sure I should elaborate on it at the moment.....

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Re: Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by Whitedragon » August 4th, 2015, 7:52 am

Though painting in caves may not be so favorably compared with the art you’re describing it has despite that remained important somehow. Though the people who painted it never really built great cities or walked on the moon, their art is preserved, why ?
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Re: Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » August 7th, 2015, 5:05 pm

Whitedragon wrote:Though painting in caves may not be so favorably compared with the art you’re describing it has despite that remained important somehow. Though the people who painted it never really built great cities or walked on the moon, their art is preserved, why ?
The materials they used just naturally lasted?

-- Updated August 7th, 2015, 4:09 pm to add the following --
Lagayscienza wrote:I don't know about realism or any other "-ism" in art leading to or being the harbinger of social collapse. As 3uGH7D$MLj points out, one can always find counter examples. I think it might be possible to argue that inflexibility and lack of tolerance on questions of art could be an indication that a society might be as healthy as it could be. But even that would be a long bow to draw.
Abstract art has only been around for a hundred years, so that's another limitation to the theory.
fair to say

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Re: Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by Belinda » September 25th, 2015, 4:27 am

It depends on what you mean by realism. Nazi art was realistic only insofar as reality was defined by Nazism. Some photograph that looks like a view of everyday reality can connote a wider metaphorical reality. In a cathedral one might see a humanly realistic Italian beauty who models for the Madonna but take one's religious feelings from the Virgin in the medieval window.
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Re: Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » September 25th, 2015, 9:35 am

Belinda wrote:It depends on what you mean by realism. Nazi art was realistic only insofar as reality was defined by Nazism. Some photograph that looks like a view of everyday reality can connote a wider metaphorical reality. In a cathedral one might see a humanly realistic Italian beauty who models for the Madonna but take one's religious feelings from the Virgin in the medieval window.
The usual, face-value, realism/abstraction divide is what we seem to be talking about -- representative, or figurative art as opposed to non-objective, abstract art.

-- Updated September 25th, 2015, 8:37 am to add the following --
Lagayscienza wrote:I don't know about realism or any other "-ism" in art leading to or being the harbinger of social collapse. As 3uGH7D$MLj points out, one can always find counter examples. I think it might be possible to argue that inflexibility and lack of tolerance on questions of art could be an indication that a society might be as healthy as it could be. But even that would be a long bow to draw.
Looking again at this, I think you mean, "I think it might be possible to argue that inflexibility and lack of tolerance on questions of art could be an indication that a society might NOT be as healthy as it could be.

-- Updated September 25th, 2015, 8:51 am to add the following --

Thanks for taking us into the church Belinda. You've described very well a certain car-crash of feelings.
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Re: Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by Belinda » September 25th, 2015, 10:39 am

The usual, face-value, realism/abstraction divide is what we seem to be talking about -- representative, or figurative art as opposed to non-objective, abstract art.

Does "non-objective, abstract " pictorial art have cognitive meanings or is the value of it purely aesthetic or emotional like most of instrumental music?
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Re: Does Realism in art always end with a society falling?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » September 25th, 2015, 10:38 pm

Belinda wrote:
The usual, face-value, realism/abstraction divide is what we seem to be talking about -- representative, or figurative art as opposed to non-objective, abstract art.

Does "non-objective, abstract " pictorial art have cognitive meanings or is the value of it purely aesthetic or emotional like most of instrumental music?
The comparison to music is good because music is an abstract form, but music and abstract art are certainly cognitive.

What's missing in abstract art and music is words. There's no literary meaning, no narrative or story, no point that you can put into words. There's lots to talk about, but in the end the art experience is a non-verbal one. Maybe you could compare it to tasting wine? Descriptions are fun but pretty inadequate.
fair to say

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