The Cultural-Niche Theory of Art
THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY artist Piet Mondrian ( 1937) wrote that he imagined a future where we no longer just had paintings hanging on walls, but lived in realized art. The items of domestic life would all be art. We would live in art. He wanted artists to make this art so balanced that people would live their lives in its harmonies. In a sense, that future has come to be. We live in realized art. We have art on our bed sheets and on our T-shirts. We make fashion choices of color and line, even on our towels and our toilet paper. We see art images everywhere. There is a diversity in the kinds of art that we see around us. There are advertising posters on the walls of stores. There are illustrations in magazines. There are streams of images broadcast to us over television. We are indeed living in realized art.
This realized art, however, is not in a harmonious universal style as Mondrian was envisaging. It consists mostly in forms of art considered banal, sentimental, and in bad taste by most in the Fine Art artworld. Further, because so many people have no interest in Fine Art, it is often thought that visual art has somehow lost its relevance and potency. People ask what the point of art is, and whether it is worthwhile spending public money on art. When people think of art, they think of Fine Art, and the influence of Fine Art seems to be in decline.