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The Surrealists combined ideas from psychoanalysis and Marxism in an attempt to unleash those forces repressed by mainstream society; the dream imagery is most familiar, but experiments with found objects and collage were also prominent. These avant-garde groups tried to produce more than refined aesthetic experiences for a restricted audience; they proffered their skills to help to change the world.

In this work the cross-over to visual culture is evident; communication media and design played an important role. Avant-garde artists began to design book covers, posters, fabrics, clothing, interiors, monuments and other useful things. They also began to merge with journalism by producing photographs and undertaking layout work. In avant-garde circles, architects, photographers and artists mixed and exchanged ideas. For those committed to autonomy of art, this kind of activity constitutes a denial of the shaping conditions of art and betrayal of art for propaganda, but the avant-garde were attempting something else — they sought a new social role for art.

One way to explore this debate is by switching from painting and sculpture to architecture and design. Marcel Duchamp — , who is now seen as one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, occupies an important place in destabilization of the art object. Duchamp started out as a Cubist, but broke with the idea of art as a matter of special visual experience and turned his attention to puns and perceptual or conceptual conundrums Duchamp, These activities brought him into the orbit of Dada in Paris and New York, but this was probably nothing more than a convenient alliance.

Duchamp played games with words and investigated the associations of ordinary objects. From , Duchamp began singling out ordinary objects, such as a bottle rack, for his own attention and amusement and that of a few friends. Duchamp was interested in interrogating the mass-produced objects created by his society and the common-sense definitions and values that such things accrued. Mischievously, he probed the definitions and values of his culture for a small group of like-minded friends. Nevertheless, artists in the late s and the s became fascinated with this legacy and began to think of art as something the artist selected or posited, rather than something he or she composed or made.

According to this idea, the artist could designate anything as art; what was important was the way that this decision allowed things to be perceived in a new light. With the breakup of the hegemony of the New York School, artists began to look at those features of modern art that had been left out of the formalist story.

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During this period, Duchamp came to replace Picasso or Matisse as the touchstone for young artists, but he was just one tributary of what became a torrent. Perhaps most significantly, painting and anything we might straightforwardly recognize as sculpture began to take a back seat. A host of experimental forms and new media came to prominence: performance art, video, works made directly in or out of the landscape, installations, photography and a host of other forms and practices. In these locations, people only recently out of the fields encountered the shocks and pleasures of grand-metropolitan cities.

This situation applies first of all to Paris see Clark, ; Harvey, ; Prendergast, This clash of ways of life generated different ways of inhabiting and viewing the city with class and gender at their core. Before the Second World War, the alternative centers of modernism were also key sites of uneven and combined development: Berlin, Budapest, Milan, Moscow and Prague. In these places, large-scale industry was created by traditional elites in order to develop the production capacities required to compete militarily with Britain.

Factory production was plopped down into largely agrarian societies, generating massive shocks to social equilibrium.


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In many ways, Moscow is the archetypal version of this pattern of acute contradictions. This set of contradictions put a particular perception of time at the center of modern art. On the other hand, they attempted a leap into the future. Both perspectives — Primitivism and Futurism — entailed a profound hostility to the world as it had actually developed, and both orientations were rooted in the conditions of an uneven and combined world system.

The vast urban centers — Paris, Berlin, and Moscow — attracted artists, chancers, intellectuals, poets and revolutionaries. The interchange between people from different nations bred a form of cultural internationalism.

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In interwar Paris, artists from Spain, Russia, Mexico, Japan and a host of other places rubbed shoulders. The critic Harold Rosenberg —78 stated this theme explicitly. Perhaps for the only time in its history, after the Second World War modernism was positioned at the heart of world power — when a host of exiles from European fascism and war relocated in New York. In the main, these artists, such as Jackson Pollock —56 , Mark Rothko —70 , Arshile Gorky —48 , Robert Motherwell —91 and Barnett Newman —70 , and associated critics Greenberg and Rosenberg were formed during the s in the circles of the New York Left: they were modernist internationalists opposed to US parochialism in art and politics.

After the war, they retained this commitment to an international modern art, while the politics drained away or was purged in the Cold War. This was the time when artists working in the modernist idiom were least interested in articulating epochal changes and most focused on art as an act of individual realization and a singular encounter between the viewer and the artwork.

At the same time, these artists continued to keep their distance from mainstream American values and mass culture. Some champions of autonomous art are inclined to think art came to a shuddering halt with the end of the New York School. It should be apparent from this brief sketch that the predominant ways of thinking about modern art have focused on a handful of international centers and national schools — even when artists and critics proclaim their allegiance to internationalism.

There is a story about geopolitics — about the relationship between the west and the rest — embedded in the history of modern art. A focus on art in a globalized art world leads to revising the national stories told about modernism. The reality is not that the majority world will be transformed into a high-tech consumer paradise. In fact, inequality is increasing across the world. What is referred to as globalization is the most recent phase of uneven and combined development.

Recent debates on globalization and art involve a rejection of modernist internationalism; instead, artists and art historians are engaged with local conditions of artistic production and the way these mesh in an international system of global art making. Modern art is currently being remade and rethought as a series of much more varied responses to contemporaneity around the world. Artists now draw on particular local experiences, and also on forms of representation from popular traditions. Drawing local image cultures into the international spaces of modern art has once more shifted the character of art.

The paradox is that the cultural means that are being employed — video art, installation, large color photographs and so forth — seem genuinely international. Walk into many of the large exhibitions around the globe and you will see artworks referring to particular geopolitical conditions, but employing remarkably similar conventions and techniques. This cosmopolitanism risks underestimating the real forces shaping the world; connection and mobility for some international artists goes hand in hand with uprootedness and the destruction of habitat and ways of life for others.

Modernist America

This overview has provided examples of the shifting perceptions and definitions of art across time. The first part demonstrated the changing role of the artist and diverse types of art in the medieval and Renaissance periods. The second part outlined the evaluation of art in the academies, issues of style, and changes to patronage, where art and its consumption became increasingly part of the public sphere during the period to The last part addressed the way in which artists broke from all conventions and the influence of globalization on art production, in the period to the present.

Adamson, J. Alberti, L.

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Arciszweska, B. Bailey, C. Bailey, G. Barr, A. Baudelaire, C.

Baxandall, M. Belting, H. A significant factor is the unequal geographic power distribution of globalization. How individuals experience and respond to the forces of globalization is, to a great extent, a consequence of their economic, social, and geographic positions in the world.

Globalization imposed from above can be contested and reconfigured from below Steger, : Global forces from above may very well advance democratization and the spread of human rights in various areas of the world, while globalization from below may promote special interests or reactionary goals for example, in the case of transnational right-wing movements, extreme fundamentalist-religious groups or terrorist networks. Thus, globalization exists of fundamental transformations in the world economy, politics, and culture, which entail contradictions and ambiguities, that is, both progressive and emancipatory features and oppressive and negative attributes.

Contrary to modernization theorists of the s and s who tended to attach merely positive values of progress to such processes, classical theorists of modernity recognized that the modern world was ambiguous in its capacity to deliver human happiness and fulfillment.

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Cultural Globalization and Transnational Flows of Things American

Modernity, in particular the scientific rationality and the liberal-democratic political projects associated with the Enlightenment, delivered emancipation from many forms of domination. Each of these views recognized that one form of domination had been replaced by another — they differed in their precise analysis of the source of this domination Tomlinson, : To the extent that this heritage of classical sociology acknowledges the discontents at the core of modernity as well as its historical changes it still has its merits as a living tradition for analyses of modern life today Turner, But in trying to develop a more up-to-date approach, we must account for the existence of multiple modernities, that is, a number of different sites and forms of modernity, including those outside the West Featherstone et al.

Processes of modernity may be globally alike to the extent that they all entail the demolishing of the old order to make room for the new. But the values, norms, and cultural forms and practices that result from these processes, the way in which they are interpreted, and even the driving forces behind them, may differ from one cultural context to the other Therborn, Denning stipulates that area studies such as American Studies in the traditional sense fitted well with the period between and when the world was conventionally divided into discrete, partitioned spaces: the capitalist First World, the communist Second World, and the decolonizing Third World.


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  4. This position is open to question, however. The increasing importance of transnational corporations and other non-state actors and agencies notwithstanding, many states have survived intact and a number of new ones have been founded. The available evidence points to the sustained importance of the nation-state as a political and economic entity, and this certainly holds true for the United States. These changes are a pre-condition for further globalization and a consequence of it. But this reconfiguration is to some extent a question of deliberate choice.

    The rapid expansion of global economic activity since the s is first of all a result of political decisions made by governments to lift the international restrictions on capital as part of a more general adoption of neoliberal policies. Once these decisions were implemented, the technology came into its own, and accelerated the speed of communication and calculations that helped bring the movement of money to an extraordinary level. The implication is that nation and territory do still make a difference — even in a globalized context.

    The latter strategic places are embedded in national territories and therefore stay, at least partly, within the judicial orbit of various state-centered regulatory systems.


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    4. In the ongoing process of capitalist transnationalization, corporate geography has been reconfigured into a new system of worldwide time-space connections, but they are neither hardly decentered nor fully integrated, retaining a hierarchical structure and uneven distribution. Most TNCs still have their headquarters in the richest developed countries, that usually provide the best overall socioeconomic, political, and legal bases for their operations, and where their owners and managers reside. Private digital networks bring along forms of power that differ from the more widely distributed power associated with public digital networks.

      Major examples are wholesale financial markets, corporate intra-nets, and corporate networks bringing together borrowers and lenders in a private domain rather than the public domain of stock markets. The vastly expanded global capital market that emerged in the s has the structural power and organizational connections with national economies to make its requirements felt in national economic policymaking.

      In providing some of the norms for national economic policymaking the operational logic of the capital market exerts an influence that goes far beyond the financial sector. There is also the embeddedness of global finance in the environments of actual financial centers, places where national laws continue to be operative, although these often entail greatly modified laws Sassen, : , For a good understanding of globalizing American culture outside its country of origin it is necessary to examine the local appropriations in relation to the projections of American powers hard and soft; military, economic, political, social and cultural in the international arena.

      Important American cultural influences are implicated in U. It must also be recognized that intercultural influence does not by definition run parallel with international political and economical relationships.