Exercise: Question 6 – Is there a clear distinction between popular culture and fine art today or is it more useful to think in terms of a spectrum of visual culture? Plus Is there still a place for the traditional art gallery?

We see popular culture as the world around us and that is influencing artists of all genres more than ever before – artists are being bombarded by an ever increasing variety of cultures and techniques in part due to globalisation  and the increasing availability of art on the internet and even in social media sites.  Art is becoming available not just to those who live near galleries and exhibition venues but to anyone who has even the remotest interest.

However if popular culture is what everyone is listening to, watching and experiencing then there is still a very clear distinction as fine art is available to all but it is whether the common man chooses to look or to ignore.   As human beings we have a herd mentality like the majority of species and there is an underlying peer pressure to watch what others are watching  – for example my own teenage sons rarely listen to classical music because their peers listen to different music and hence they listen to what their friends do (one of my sons is happy to break away from the herd happily!).

Many people will not consider going to a gallery or even looking at fine art on line because they say it is boring or simply have no interest because they do not understand the paintings – I state this because I had that attitude … I have always loved art but have dismissed many works by artists because although I appreciate the skills of the painters I have not had the knowledge or understanding to learn the story behind the works or look at the picture in depth.  My interests lie much more in applied arts/ancient crafts so I simply felt most paintings particularly the classics were boring – now I am starting to understand the economic, political and cultural aspects behind each work and read reviews I am really enjoying fine art.

For applied arts and newer digital arts including graphic art and photography their is less of a distinction as they seem to be much more influenced on a very direct level by popular culture – fine art almost seems to be out of reach of popular culture even if it is influenced by it.

Regarding the second question – that is slightly easier for me to answer than the first because I do feel very very strongly that there is a very definite need for art galleries and perhaps  even more so because of the internet. During the course of my studies so far I have looked at many images on line and you do not get a true image of the painting due to the colours not being true due to either photography or light and you cannot see the brush strokes in the same way you would in person.  I am aware I am doing the assignment on line due to there not being a larger enough gallery in my area but this means I am losing out, in my view, as I will not get the same experience as I would going to the same museum – my review is through the eyes of the photographer rather than my own.  A gallery that you can visit you get to see and experience the lighting, the layout, how the pictures are hung and the atmosphere created plus the aforesaid colours and tones of the paint and the brush stroke or media marks that make up the works.  Because I am doing a review of a gallery from its website I am also visiting my very small local gallery so that I can experience all the above and see the works actually in person – usually the gallery is empty as the town I live in does not have a culture of fine art interest sadly as it is very much an industrial city and has been for 2 or 3 centuries.

I have noticed from reading on-line blogs and reviews that galleries in major cities such as Liverpool and London are becoming ever more packed as they are putting on exhibitions that excite and interest people and draw them in and that leads people to see the other fine art works on display – the internet cannot possible replicate the experience of a gallery but it can enhance the viewing by enabling you to read about it first and to read about specific works that interest you either before or after.

Interesting questions that really make you think.

Note after assignment:  having now done the assignment I do stand by my feeling that there is very definitely a place for galleries as well as their on-line websites as you simply cannot see the detail as well (despite the availability of being able to zoom in) or the brush strokes clearly in such techniques as impasto.  I also do not feel you can get an idea of the scale of the paintings in on-line galleries either.  The websites however have proved incredibly useful as I was able to choose works to study and take my time over the choice – often going backwards and forwards between several but the disadvantage was it was frustrating to literally have to go either room by room or artist or period to find what I was looking for and an actually gallery visit would have been easier on this aspect.  The websites also provided some background information and I was able to use a combination of on-line galleries for this purpose – ironically my originally choice of the Metropolitan Museum has the Heilbrunn timeline which is just proving invaluable.

Whether on-line gallery or physical building each has their purpose with advantages and disadvantages but each very much have their place – I have loved researching and exploring the websites but nothing for me will take away from the opportunity to visit in person and soak up the atmosphere, get a scale of the works and be able to spend time looking at detail or technique and just sitting down sketching and that is something I am looking forward to being able to do in the future.


Please note I am writing this after the end of the course as I review my blogs in preparation for assessment and have discovered some blogs in which I had not correctly noted my references down.  I had yet to learn how to use the Harvard Referencing system and where possible I have updated the blogs but in some cases such as this I can only refer to the blog named BIBLIOGRAPHY in my Research and Reference section for a general list of sites were used during this first part of the course.

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