“The world today doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?”
– Pablo Picasso
The rate of change in modern life, starting with the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, has continued to increase. The world began to be filled with more things, coming at a faster and faster rate, and the things themselves became faster and faster (cars, planes, trains…). A simple experience that we now take for granted, looking out the window of a car moving at 60 mph, must have been a revelation when people first started being able to do that. It is a unique way of seeing our reality, unlike any they could have imagined. Another everyday experience is seeing the world from a high place, the top of a skyscraper, from an airplane, etc. People not too long ago had never seen the world through these eyes, in these ways. A lot of the disruption that occurred in the art world around this time was strongly influenced by the realization that how we had been seeing the world for eons was limited and how we had depicted the world in our art was insufficient to depict the new reality.
Our world today is much more complex than 100 years ago, but I wonder whether we have undergone so radical a transformation in how we see things as occurred then? With the power of images and film and special effects, we are overwhelmed with every conceivable way of looking at our reality as well as other realities. It’s hard to imagine having an experience today that would fundamentally change how we think of reality, except perhaps in the inner spiritual world. We’ve exhausted the external world’s ability to amaze us. Maybe this is why more and more people in the world are pursuing a spiritual path.
I’m not sure how, or if, this will affect trends in the art world. There is a long history of combining religious subject matter and art and I’ve seen a lot of contemporary art that has some spiritual content. All of it seems to be a way to represent religious symbols – none of it that I’ve seen represents a different way of perceiving reality along the lines of the transformations that occurred in the art world a hundred years ago. I’d be interested in knowing about such art…