When leaders change our art world
Artists reflect on the current world around us. Photojournalists need new issues to document. Painters may be inclined towards the patriotic or delve deeper into self indulgence and exploration out of disgust. Sculptors may feel the pinch of bronze pricing but recoup when their finished work receives collector and institutional acceptance. Film directors exploit obvious mistakes in policy execution (Jarhead comes to mind on the big screen or HBO’s The Wire). Contrarily, many are apolitical. Their inspiration is independent of national debate. Much like the gizmo addict developing the next “Bug” at MIT or the like, the significance of their work becomes all encompassing.
The tides rise and with it so does the traditional value of outstanding fine art. This is art that needs no federal handout. Art that simply stops you and shakes you to “this is exceptional.” Yes collectors do pay more in a high tide of increasing pricing. The strong Euro makes American artists works more affordable or European works more expensive. But beware of bad artists pricing higher in the name of perceived quality. Inspiration does deserve and command legitimate increased value.
When Dr. Martin Luther King marched the streets of Chicago in 1966 (Chicago Freedom Movement as photographed here by photojournalist Ted Williams) he lead by example matched by an uncanny ability to inspire. His speech in Soldier Field drove further attention to the blight of poverty caused by discrimination. In fact he personally rented a “shanty town” villa for he and his family and staff to live the life of his subjects.
His movement had legs because a country brewed with national shame for basic principles of men: due unto others what you want others to do for you. Combined with international foreign policy blunders, America and the world changed in the 60s drastically. America did so then because citizens found leaders who were willing to demonstrate their commitment to cause and lead change.
American leaders today now must “show us the money”, “put up or shut up”, or simply step beyond the traditional rhetoric of the everyday.