Can you remember cartoon, A Dog of Plandes? A poor boy Nero who was the main character desired to see Rubens’s masterpiece named Descente de Croix for his whole his life. This painting was covered with heavy curtains and to see it, the viewer had to pay money. In the last scene, the boy died slowly in cold and hunger, but at the same time he felt happy in front of the painting he desired. In the trick art exhibition, you become a main character when entering the painting in person. Andy Warhol’s Mariyln Monroe was printed on the T-shirt you are wearing. Awe of the art or popularization about the art. How should the art come to us?
Last Part for Completion is You
What do you think about how much art you come into contact with in a day? The answer ‘uncountable’ might be the closest to the right answer. Maybe we can’t find a person who thinks that he should go to an exhibition or a concert hall to feel the art. Yes, the world we are living now is filled with art. T-shirts printed with distinctive pop-art, signs made of various materials, and funny ideas that look like pieces of art, statues located in front of big buildings, wriggling graffiti on the wall, small performances starting suddenly when passing on the road, poems written on the screen door in the subway or playing music when taking a train. You can find famous paintings easily even on the milk cartons or packages of biscuits. We live in the world considered strange when we can’t contact with the art. The area being popularized is not only roads. The popularization of art has penetrated into the concert hall or exhibitions where the public expects to
find the purest forms of art. Now many exhibitions don’t let you be a mere observer. Passive audiences who appreciate the works folding their hands behind their backs elegantly are changing to active audiences who touch the works in person or who are the main characters in the works. Jang, who came to the Trick Art Exhibition where viewers take part, Division of Korean Language & Literature ‘11, said, “It was a very new and exciting experience for me to see the works that became to be completed when I went into the paintings. The point that I could and should take a picture was very interesting.” Now art doesn’t force us to communicate one-sidedly. The exhibitions possible to communicate each side and focused on audiences are now filling the art stream.
From Scarcity to Popularization
However, you can know it. Until a few years ago, art didn’t come to the public easily like today. In the past, art was classified as high culture, so the people who consumed art were very few and it was for the aristocracy. Therefore, the art makes the public have longing but at the same time feeling hard to approach. In fact, in Korea the artists such as painters, performers with masks and so on were looked down upon because of Confucianism. The words, ddanddara* or grim-jaengee** show the state of Korean artists at that time. However, ironically the works were accepted as valuable things. Of course, it was from yangban***, Korean nobleman in Joseon Dynasty, not from the public. The art had function as standard that showed the intelligence or wealth of yangban.1 The public didn’t have interesting in the high art because what is important was survival, not art. The change of the public toward art started with western culture. As western culture started to come to Korea, people thought it was very valuable and came to have a longing
for things western.2 Even the public who were indifferent to art before had curiosity. However, at this time the public couldn’t approach the art. Finally, regardless of Korean or Western art, all arts came to be owned by the privileged and the art itself became difficult to approach for the public. However, as the world got to develop the measure that could make privileged art more popular was made and finally it became to be possible to come close easily to the art. A lot of masterpieces or literatures were copied and music started to lower the scarcity through tapes or CDs. Especially the Internet took a crucial role in the popularization of art. The peak of popular art is Pop-art. Pop-art that has the image of mass-produced, instant, and commercial pop culture is popularized art unto itself.3 Also, participating art shows a critical attitude about social problems with the art. In
this way, as time went by, the art lost its scarcity gradually and became to be changed to familiar and inducing to participate. The art runs out from small halls and meets more people on the roads.
Today is Mass Generation
Then why did theart become popularized? The answer is simple. It’s because the modern societyis a mass society. It also can explain about why the past art was enjoyed by only a few from the privileged class. When the wind of democratization rose through all over the world, what changed was not just politics. The public came to the stage throughout society and art was no exception. They wanted to be main characters in the arts, too. Therefore, the art was popularized to suit its feature into the public’s taste. The art sticking to its own personality excluding the public began to
vanish. In other words, the popularization of art was a way for it to survive.4 In this way, the
benefits from popularized art are various. As the art linked with society, this made the public cultured and artistic. Especially, it was very exciting that a majority which had been excluded from art came to be satisfied with a desire for the art through volunteer participation of the public. Also, the point that today art for the public is making a distinctive artistic area different from conventional genres means that it contributes to diversification. Finally, extending the width of demandmeans supply for the art has become active, too. And it leads to the fact that the value of creating the art can be appreciated financially.
Pulp is Sweeter than Peer
However the popularization of art is not perfectly good. It’s because there is a fatal weakness that the depth of art can be further shallower than before. As the art turns from being professional to being fun, the attitude of the public to the art can be a problem. In other words, many people can mistake the little part of the information with everything about the art. For example, people can think they know all about the art they experienced only with a small pamphlet or short explanation by a curator. Also, we need to think about the fact that the intention of the creator has become restricted to satisfy the majority. Lee, Department of English ‘11 in Chungang University, said, “I saw a musician who played K-pop with gayageum on a television show a few days ago. She couldn’t play what she had wanted to play, traditional Korean music, because she should get interest. It was a great pity.” It is another problem that art falls as a consumable. What was made with the intention to give sensation and realization is taken for element of design to decorate a product. In this way, these problems make us look back at our attitude about the art.
“We say, ‘I see Mona Lisa’ not ‘I read Mona Lisa.’ The problem is that the strange attitude was hidden in the other side of the word ‘see’ when treating the art and this attitude disturbs meaningful meeting between the art and the public. ‘Seeing art’ is an image that people consume the works just once with mere intuition. We need to aim at ‘reading art’ which requires us to think and endeavor to get the message thecreator wanted to give using steady intelligence.” The words by Yoon Jajung, Dong-Eui University professor of Fine Arts, makes us consider the direction of the
popularization of art.5 What the access to the becomes easy means that the access to the way to read the art becoms easy,too. When we understand the popularization of art is improving access to the art and expanding the opportunity of experience, now is the time when we should think about not only quantity but also quality. It means what we need is not only the popularization of art but the education of art. Besides only exposing the art more, the plans that allow the public to study deeply about the art through, for example, making the auctions for the general public active, or
increasing various art lectures. I hope you do not throw away artworks just after looking the peer that looks like interesting, so become to enjoy sweeter pulp by peeling with the knife of the knowledge. The popularization of art started already.
* ddanddara : they are entertainers who are regarded very cheaply
** grim-jaengee : painters who are regarded very cheaply
*** yangban : someone or someting that is well-respected or considered amongst the best in its class
1 Kim Hyejin, The Cultural Meaning of Upgrading in Mass Culture , master’s thesis- Sogang university, 2003
2 Same as 1
3 LUCY R. LIPPARD, Pop Art , signgsa, 2011
4 Sung Minwoo, A Study on the Meaning and Aspect of Art Popularization , Art Education Research Review, 2010
5 Yoon Jajung, Modern Art and the Necessity of Art- ‘reading’ , Institute for the Arts and Culture Research Silla University, 1998