Western Painting – Pluralism – The Multiplied Art

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Pluralism – The Concept

Pluralism is a general term, denoting the variety of accepted points of view or conventions, related to a subject or a period. Pluralism, in painting, implies an eon on art scene, which is not specifically identified by a particular genus. The earlier eras in painting have been characterized by some underlying philosophies, where one artistic mode followed the other, in succession. For instance, Medieval Painting was succeeded by Renaissance and Baroque Painting styles, in series. Similarly, Post-Impressionism followed Impressionism, and so on. However, the twenty-first century art is distinct, owing to the openness of form and style, so much so that various genres coexist on the same ground. Pluralism symbolizes the present art scene, in effect, with its multiplicity of style. The styles of painting in the twenty-first century range from simplistic Abstract forms to core Realism.

The History

Pluralism began taking roots in the post World War II period, but actualized more prominently around late 1960s and mid 1970s. This phase can be regarded as the time of the institutionalization of Pluralism in true sense. During this phase, artists tried breaking free from the philosophy of rebellion against the previous movements as a foundation of new & contemporary art forms. Instead, the painters preferred to embrace the earlier and newer styles to create eclectic mixes. Pluralism came as a ‘revival’ of more elaborate works from the abstract sects like Color Field. The simplistic forms are based on the theory that there can be no further simplification possible in the structural design.

The Correlations

As the art community started suspecting the end of art as a testimony of historical developments, the painters shifted their focus to the classic art and modern methodologies, at the same time. Pluralism established itself as the simultaneous existence of Pop art, Minimalism, Photorealism, Conceptual art, and Pattern painting, especially in the SoHo district of New York. However, with time, more styles kept coming in, such as Hard-edged painting, Collage, Shaped canvas painting, Lyrical Abstraction, Expressionism, Neo-Expressionism, Digital painting, Monochrome painting, Intermedia painting, Graffiti, Portrait, Mural, Abstract Figurative, and so on.

The Controversy

The main argument cited against Pluralism in art is that these works lack the ‘artistic’ discipline of the genre paintings. The artists do not make conscious efforts to add imaginative excellence to their art. On the contrary, their focus is guided mainly towards the commercial success of their body of works. The admirers, in turn, are short in the judgment of refinement and aesthetics in art. The critics complain that in the quest of creative assortment, Pluralism leads to degradation in the overall quality.


Source by Annette Labedzki

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