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Art from 20th Century Western Civilization

An examination of the art produced by Western Civilization during the 20th century reveals a variety of artistic techniques and content that demonstrates the economic, political, philosophical and religious thoughts of societies during the period. Determining which are the most significant was not difficult and was assisted by investigating not what works were the most aesthetically appealing but rather what works of art would be most likely to exhibit an enduring impact as representations of Western society and culture as it existed in the 20th century. Some notable artists from the 20th Century include the following:

Art from 20th Century Western Civilization

Spanish artist Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” is submitted as one of the most important and representative works of art exhibited in the early twentieth century.  Picasso is renowned for his cubist techniques, which are marked by the use of geometric and abstract forms that include but are not confined to cubes and cones. Although Picasso’s cubist technique lacks the realism and aesthetics that are exhibited in art styles like expressionism and realism, it nonetheless succeeded in demonstrating both sensuality and beauty as well as the tragedies of humanity, as illustrated in “Guernica”, in a manner that had not been seen before.

Unlike the singular or focused approach to the artistic portrayal of the human subject and the world around it, the cubist technique of Picasso and artists like him, offered viewers new and multiple perspectives on the subjects that they portrayed.  Picasso is credited with the following statement on his opinion on the significance of art: “We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand”.

This submission is not confined to a single work but rather a number of similar works by the same artist, Andy Warhol, all of which illustrate the simplicity of a Campbell’s Soup can however with labels revealing a variety of contents.  The labels and their contents are not the most significant aspect of this submission.  Rather, it is Warhol’s artistic style, which is indicative of the growing commercialization of American society and culture during the 1960’s

Andy Warhol’s work epitomizes what is termed “pop art”, which frequently focused on concepts generated from the media and advertising.  Although the subjects portrayed and the artistic techniques used in its creation were much less refined, the appeal and recognition of “pop art” in 1960’s America revealed the “celebrations of consumer society” and not the deeper or more meaningful issues that the fine arts sought to portray in preceding periods.  Nevertheless, Warhols’ art and works like it successfully exemplified an important trend toward commercialization and consumerism that had, to that point, been left largely unexplored by the art world.

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