Navigating the territory of the art world is a motivational experience. Art exhibitions throughout history have been the pictorial panacea for one’s emotive convalescence. However, the design of these exhibitions seems to contradict its aim, i.e., to welcome all into its space. It is commonly perceived as an intimidating and daunting hemisphere of intellectual entertainment. The elitist display structure that has become the norm of the high art space removes itself from financially unviable and thus the ignorable milieu.
Local Art is Far, and High Art is Near
Although famous paintings are digitally accessible to all, local art is not. Displaying the works of renowned local artists in the ivory tower of the fine arts scene curbs their outreach and mitigates their history, confining it to a small crowd of only art critics, writers, or artists. While everyday art talk must include a Dali or a Van Gogh, lesser-known artists or even local centennial arts find no place in those chats. In a metropolis teeming with people from all communities of society, the consumption of paintings is considered a luxury. On any day of the week, a group of resident art enthusiasts gathers around the University campus or at a vintage coffeehouse exchanging thoughts on art chaperoned by caffeine and smoke rather than visiting their local galleries. The news of the auction of a ‘Salvatore Mundi‘ reaches a small community of art aficionados, whereas the struggles of women artists expressed in their paintings in vegetable colors, displayed at a gallery a few minutes from their homes, remains obscure.
Online Exploration and Street Art Keep it Real
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Art receives a plethora of cognitive and emotional reactions from its on-lookers. Some people meet art as knowledgeable enthusiasts, some enjoy it through personal contemplation, and some through social interactions. While there are various types of visitors to an art museum, the exclusionary construction of today’s exhibitions fails to attract explorers en masse. The amount of art available online allows far more opportunity for art exploration with convenience that an unwelcoming art gallery would. Then there is the growing world of art enthusiasts who promotes the regular trade of public art on a smaller scale accessible to everyday people, almost everywhere. Most art-lovers flock to pop-up exhibitions curated in cafes, bookstores, and fairs, and the younger generation tend to engage more with street art or commissioned art within a smaller circle.
NFTs allow friendlier art platforms and social connections
The expansive, all-encompassing scale of street art enjoys the gaze of community pride and admiration with no constraints. While fine art is preserved and served within the confines of buildings and blue blood, graffiti incorporates spatial history and temporal experiences that might also quietly represent the socio-economic vitality of a community. A graffiti of socio-political symbolism or just a bunch of youngsters spray-painting a permissible wall, beautifying the neighborhood, and attracting online influencers is public art that gets noticed and praised but not valued enough. The institutionalization of art will always define art’s value-based estimates. However, with the rise of NFT, art investment has become more accessible and straightforward. The blockchain technology that powers the Non-fungibility of the digital tokens ensures authenticity and uniqueness. NFT has acquired staggering prices for artworks evolving art trade, adding a whole new dimension to art investment. While the traditional art-dealer system still dominates commerce, this new form of digitally owning art tokens is thriving and protecting digital artists. Anyone with internet access anywhere in the world can own NFTs from Da Vinci to William Turner or even make NFTs. Before this, there was no secure form of digital investment in the art space. And now, a new young generation is equipped with friendly platforms for art trade and, thereby, heightened social connection. The crypto-enthusiasts now can not only own fine art from the State Hermitage museum but can also monetize their artworks or buy art from Instagram. Conventional research-based pricing, however, still provides reasonable grounds to challenge the ill-defined metrics of NFT’s values and pricing.
New Forms of Response to Art
Teen curators of art exhibitions tend to be more inclusive and aware of the socio-political environment and nature. Being drawn toward art is not only a path of self-reflection but also a learning experience. Most traditional high-end art galleries fail to attract Gen Z, perhaps because their aesthetics do not reflect the new generation’s lived experiences. While the trend of high culture aesthetic is fantasized about, when it comes to spending real one-on-one time with art, the younger generation prefers a more palpable representation. The millennials might have skipped art galleries almost entirely due to hyper institutionalization of art, but Gen Z is causing a positive disruption. For example, much like the visual artists of the Italian Renaissance commissioned to paint patrons in different poses and with different objects depicting their world, Gen Z has social media for that very self-expression. Gen Z’s personal relationship with art is deeper than it seems. They promote and curate new age art on a public platform with global outreach, however, not at the cost of closing the doors of art history. Art galleries might have to reorganize their social reflectivity to become relevant again. Art no more needs just the buying power; it requires the buzz.
Author: Ipshita Chakraborty
[Content and Social Media innovation; Jadavpur University; English Literature]
Illustration: TDLM Design Team