When we look back on art history we demarcate its progress by applying a label to each period or offshoot and calling it an art movement.
Sometimes there can be more than one art movement happening concurrently (although typically not many). And it must not be forgotten that many art movements are labelled so after the event, once we look back.
Often an art movement signals a conceptual breakthrough in what constitutes art. Or encapsulates a particular style or thematic subject. But what of art in the 21st Century?
With the advent of the internet, social media and now NFTs, we find ourselves in the position to view art made by millions of artists from around the world. A multitude of cultures, sub-cultures, genres, media, styles and subject matters makes for a dizzying array of viable artist expressions.
The cutting edge of art can no longer be easily identified and given a label, such as Cubism. Every possible style is acceptable. As artists we all try to find that unique style that will differentiate us from the crowd. It is not merely enough just to follow a movement.
The results can be dizzying. With so much to choose from we must constantly evaluate on a case-by-case basis whether this piece of art is good, or if that piece of art is good. I often wonder what art will be like when humans have colonized the entire Solar System...
If there were billions or trillions of artists out there, how would we evaluate such a complex plethora of creative output?
And what of the new? Are there any new ideas to be had with art? Will there be any significant conceptual breakthroughs? Or have we become so used to novelty, that originality no longer seems as shocking as it once did?
NFTs as art movement
Personally, I think that NFTs may be seen as the big art movement of the early 21st century. It certainly has sent shockwaves through the art world and has changed the way artists and collectors connect with each other.
This kind of seismic shift in the way art is treated is definitely the kind of "new" that people take notice of. As a movement, NFTs may not say anything about a artwork's style, theme or substance, but it says something about the way society has changed the way it defines art.
When I first started making digital art, it was not seen as being on a par with traditional media. Selling a print was about the best I could hope for. But that has changed. Digital art has found its place now the world has become digital in so many other areas. It is not seen as something inferior, but as something that holds great power and potential.
A thousand artistic offshoots
What does this mean for the stylistic and conceptual evolution of art? Well, I think that stylistically, art has been shattered into a million shards. Each subset of society holds dear different stylistic ideals. And I doubt whether that will ever merge again into the kinds of unifying art-movements we used to see.
Future giants of art
Which leads me to my last question. Is it possible to be a giant in the world of art anymore in light of this shattered audience? Will there be another Picasso, for example - capable of influencing the whole of art and the way we see it?
Banksy is perhaps a contemporary artist that is notorious and a household name, but can he be really said to have changed art? To open up a new horizon, into which are can explore? I would say probably no.
I think there are plenty of successful artists, and there are artists with huge followings. But that does not mean they are revolutionary artists.
What do you think? As artists, do you try and invent something that no other artist has ever attempted? Do you wish you could spearhead a revolutionary step forward in art? Or do you think those days are beyond the grasp of a single artist?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Photo credit: Riciardus from Pexels.com
I’m a Manx artist, living on the Isle of Man – a beautiful island in the Irish Sea.
I’ve been creating art for many years. My work can be found hanging on walls in Manhattan, Tokyo, London, Abu Dhabi, Madrid and even at sea on a US Navy warship!
You can see my current work at: NFT Showroom
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Art is all about communication and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post or art in general – leave a comment below or head over to Twitter and drop my a line 😃