Posted: May 28th, 2021

Modernism, Mass Culture

Andrea Hussies argues that “since the mold 19th century, the culture of modernity has been characterized by a volatile relationship between high art and mass culture. ” The writer states that Modernist artists strove to distance themselves from the “lark pour lark” movements of the turn of the century like Art Nouveau, Symbolism and ?aestheticism. This type of art pandered to the tastes of the middle classes striving to live “the good life” which evolved into a culture of decadence and indulgence. The
Modernists also distanced themselves from Abstract Expressionism during the Post World War II years, favoring autonomy, a hostility to mass culture and a “radical separation from the culture of everyday life” rather than a desire to “find a content rich with meaning and redolent of social responsibility. ” Hussies highlights that the most significant Modernist “attack” on the esthetics ideas of the self-sufficiency of high culture In the 19th century resulted from a discord of the independent modernist stretch wealth the post World War I revolutionary politics in Russia and
Germany, and the Increasingly rapid evolution of city life during the early 20th century. Hussies asserts that the attack was known as the historical avian garden symbolizing a new aesthetics approach, manifested in movements like expressionism, Berlin Dada, Russian constructivism, the post Russian Revolution purposeful and French Surrealism. The author ascribes this presence to a so-called “Great Divide” separating high art from mass culture, which he insists is imperative to the theoretical and historical understanding of modernism.

The book Fin De Is©clue and Its Legacy states that Hussein’s thesis about postmodernist is highly debatable, and that artistic modernism can only be understood in relation to the developments that came after the emergence of new mass communications technologies from the time of Baudelaire to the Second World War. Despite a great divide, the developments of high art apparently came about as a reaction to and dependence on mass communications technologies. One might argue that artistic modernism can only be understood in relation to the mass culture of the time.
Hussies asserts that both modernism and the avian-garden have always defined their identity in relation to traditional bourgeois high culture and modern commercial mass culture. He believes that most discussions relating to modernism, the avian-garden and even post modernism validate bourgeois high culture at the expense of the avian-garden or modernism. Artists of the mid 19th century like French Realist Gustavo Courier disapproved of the depiction of historical and fictional subjects in art, preferring to focus their work on mundane everyday contemporary life.
Through his work, Courier broke away from academic forms and standards that advocated Idealism, and attempted to destabilize the economic power structure of the day. Although It might appear that there were grounds for wanting to separate the notion of high art from mass culture, the economic climate in France money of mass communication in order to make a living. Artists like Henry Toulouse- Ululate and Egg©nee Grasses relied on poster making as a means of generating income.
In the case of Grasses, after studying art and architecture and working as an accomplished painter and sculptor, he designed and produced posters, which was said to have become his fort©. His posters eventually generated interest in the United States, and the artist was asked to design a cover for Harpers magazine in 1892 at a time of continuing expansion in the magazine industry. One might suggest that instead of there being a great divide between high art and mass culture, artists of the time were using the tools of high art to communicate ideas to mass culture, and that each existed in tandem with instead of in opposition to the other.
Hussies argues that both Greenberg and Adorn insisted on a “categorical separation of high art and mass culture”, both men being driven by an impulse to “save the dignity and autonomy of the art work from the totalitarian pressures of fascist mass spectacles, socialist realism and degraded commercial mass culture in the West. ” However, the writer goes on to agreeably postulate that although both men’s impulses might have been correct at the time, their insistence of such a separation or divide became out dated.

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