Monday, April 18, 2011

Small World: Are American Museums Forgetting the Rest of the World?

“What happened to Africa?” an art-world friend of New York Times writer Holland Cotter asked. “It disappeared.” What that friend was alluding to, and what Cotter analyzes in a recent article titled “Under Threat: The Shock of the Old,” is how American art museums show little non-Western art. The little non-Western art that graces their walls seems to be almost exclusively contemporary art—a troubling development considering how homogenous today’s art has become in an international market driven by what sells. Forget the “shock of the new” from today’s art. Worry more about the loss of the “shocking” old, especially the traditional art of cultures beyond our borders. As technology shrinks our world more each day in terms of communication, is it possible that our cultural world is smaller, too, but in the sense of being more narrow? Has the lust to see the new blinded us to the works of the past, especially those we Americans never really knew in the first place? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Small World."

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