The Evolution of Art

In the beginning, art was primitive.

Art evolved from the primitive to the highly representational as artists learned about materials, perspective, anatomy, and from a study of nature.

From this zenith, art continued to evolve, but now by removing information from works of art. Each new movement took away more than the previous one.

Sort of an artistic entropy.

First came Impressionism and Post Impressionism, which seemed to remove just enough information to make lots of viewers happy.

This was followed by the descent into abstract art, each successive movement more blatantly non-representational than the one before.

Abstract art reached a zenith towards the middle of the 20th Century when artists were first able to produce paintings that could be accidentally hung upside down.

But as greater levels of abstraction were reached, artists wondered what else they could do to 'push the envelope' and further the evolution of art. Where was art going?

The big breakthrough came with

+ Performance Painting

Here, the artwork was the creation of the painting, rather than the painting itself. During the performance, the artist would create a painting. At the end of the performance, the painting would be destroyed since, according to the belief of the Performance Painters, it had no intrinsic value, but was merely a vehicle of artistic expression, and had about as much importance as a paintbrush or palette.

Artists would sell tickets to these performances, or they would be sponsored by museums or foundations. There were also the autographed CDs and videotapes of the performance, all considered originals and having the same cachet as an autographed basketball or football.

The next step was

+ Expressionist Performance Painting

Here, the gestures and facial expressions of the artist were considered key elements in the artwork. This was considered by many to be the zenith of Performance Painting.

Then came

+ Abstract Performance Painting

At this point, the newer movements sought to negate the importance of the artist in the performance.

At first, artists had trouble keeping their hands at their sides. they also had trouble keeping a straight face all the way through the performance.

In the next movement

+ Postmodern Performance Painting

The artist no longer actually painted, but described the act of creating the painting.

Looking into a gallery featuring Postmodern Performance Painting:

Your eyes are drawn to a blank canvas hanging on a white wall. On a table next to the canvas is a small TV monitor. It is showing a tape of the artist.

The artist explains the sort of painting he had in mind for this particular canvas. He relates to the current movement/school/genre that it falls into.

The artist describes how he thought about the composition, the subject matter, the poses, the angles of view, the perspective, the lighting, the color palette, brush strokes, the tonal range and other pertinent details of the work.

The artist describes his feelings from before the time he thought of painting the picture, during the time he thought about painting the picture, and after the time he thought about painting the picture.

At the end, the artist takes a modest bow and smiles at the camera.

This evolved into

+ Postoperative Performance Painting

The artist is seated.

Which was followed by

+ Post-Regressive performance painting

Where you didn't see artist, just the canvas.

And finally

+ Neo-Relativistic Performance Painting

No video, just audio.

And as we follow the later movements:

The audio gets shorter and shorter, until....

The End


Note: This is a fable. Some of the events described above have not yet happened.

Also: My apologies to anyone who's already doing this for real.

Last modified June 12, 1995


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