From Idolatry to Advertising: Visual Art and Contemporary Culture

By Susan G. Josephson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
The Popular Art Cultural Niche

CONTEMPORARY POPULAR ART INCLUDES paintings and ceramic figures made for popular taste, as well as illustrations for magazines, newspapers, books, and also movies, and television. Popular Art is positive, affirming, and not revolutionary. Its value is in its subject matter and its emotional appeal. It projects conventional values and emotions. It reinforces the current world view of its viewers. Some of Popular Art is highly sentimental. Children especially relate to this sentimental Popular Art. The illustrations of Sesame Street, and pictures of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf in children's books are sentimental Popular Art. The cute puppy illustrations on calendars (fig. 3.1), and the greeting cards with snow scenes and children on them are sentimental Popular Art. The ceramic figurines of children (see fig. 1.2 on p. 5), and Walt Disney cartoons are also sentimental Popular Art. Some of Popular Art is designed to be emotionally stimulating and sensationalist rather than sentimental. Action adventure movies, crime shows, and soap operas are emotionally stimulating Popular Art. Science fiction illustrations in magazines and books, and girlie pictures on calendars and posters are emotionally stimulating Popular Art. This art is meant to give the viewer an emotionally stimulating fantasy away from the everyday world.

From the perspective of the contemporary art world, Popular Art is thought of as a kind of Fine Art; that is, bad Fine Art or Fine Art in bad taste. It seems hackneyed and banal to the Fine Art art world. From their

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From Idolatry to Advertising: Visual Art and Contemporary Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • List of Illustrations xiii
  • Chapter 1 The Cultural-Niche Theory of Art 1
  • Chapter 2 The Fine Art Cultural Niche 41
  • Chapter 3 The Popular Art Cultural Niche 80
  • Chapter 4 The Design Art Cultural Niche 115
  • Chapter 5 Advertising 152
  • Chapter 6 The Media and the Rebirth of Mythic Culture 183
  • Bibliography 225
  • Index 233
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