|About the Book|
Art Adrift deals with a crisis of modern painting largely ignored in art history books. What happened was that modernist painters essentially stopped making major innovations by 1920 because nearly every alternative to the rejected traditional stylesMoreArt Adrift deals with a crisis of modern painting largely ignored in art history books. What happened was that modernist painters essentially stopped making major innovations by 1920 because nearly every alternative to the rejected traditional styles of painting had been tried. Yet it was believed by modernists that to become famous, an artist had to be creative in the manner of Picasso and other painters behind the art movements that bubbled up in the early 1900s. The problem of having to innovate when innovation was barely possible led to a period of comparative creative stagnation of the avant-garde between the world wars.The 1920-1940 period also was one in which artists who were not originally modernist had to ponder how much modernism, if any, they needed to incorporate in their work in order to continue their careers. This added to the sense of drift and uncertainty in painting.And then there were skilled magazine and advertising illustrators, aware of modernism, who had to deal with editors and art directors concerned that images be acceptable to the general public.All this is brought to life via verbal sketches of dozens of painters and characteristics of their paintings.This book begins by describing how modernism arose during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in fields such as architecture and industrial design as well as in painting. A chapter is devoted to the modernist narrative of art history 1850-1920 from the perspective of 1960, when modernism and abstract painting were thought to be the end-state of artistic evolution. A complementary chapter describes what non-modernist painters were doing at that time, painters ignored in the other narrative. Chapters deal with the matter of creativity and characteristics of modernist paintings, setting the stage for most of the remainder of the book which deals with what happened between 1920 and 1940 in the world of painting. The final chapter treats the continuing lack of direction in painting from 1960 to the present following a brief period of domination by abstract art (something already tried as early as 1912).