“The popular arts of our industrial civilization are geared to technical changes which occur, not gradually, but violently and experimentally. The rise of the electronics era in communications challenged the cinema... Technical change as dramatized novelty... is characteristic not only of the cinema but of all the mass arts. Colour TV, the improvements in colour printing...the new range of paperback books; all are part of the constant technical improvements in the channels of mass communication.”1
“Artists' engagement with mass media dates back to the 19th century, notably French artist Honoré Daumier's association with the anti-monarchist daily newspaper Le Charivari, which beginning in 1832. It was the first to illustrate its pages with lithographs. This proved to be an effective medium for widely distributing political caricatures, as well as scenes of everyday life.” 2
Art has always been a form of expression. It has also always captured historical information of its time, contained messages, and been influential. And today, the number of ways in which messages can be communicated are endless. But does the era of mass media make art more accessible, or has it been stolen away from the artist for its influence over the masses?
The growth of mass communication since the late 1940’s influences in ways both consciously and subconsciously. Visual images in advertising and television are on the constant assault.3 Art from all eras has become substantially more accessible via the internet, books, and television, but the question still remains for the modern day artist: Can fine art survive the age of mass media? John A. Walker explores this concept in his book Art in the Age of Mass Media.
1. Alloway, L. (1958, February). The Arts and the Mass Media. Retrieved from http://www.warholstars.org/warhol/warhol1/andy/warhol/articles/popart/popart.html
2. Flynn, P. (n.d.). Pop Art-Reflections of the Mass Media. Retrieved from http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1981/2/81.02.01.x.html
3. Artsy. (n.d.). Engagement with Mass Media. Retrieved from http://artsy.net/gene/engagement-with-mass-media