Above Timothy Leary arrested by the DEA in 1972
I plan to do posts on trees and continue some of the art historical threads I have started, but as those are larger themes, I am going to continue with some smaller ideas for a few more days. This is a continuation of the thought that gave you Maurice Utrillo the last two nights. Art history is different for each era, the art history of today is not the same as our grandparents. I became aware of art history in the 60's and in a way it formed a baseline against which I have observed its continued evolution. For the better I think, incidentally.
I think it is interesting to notice, that which each era has mistaken for art. In the 60's art was often confused with psychology. Psychology was huge at that time. Dr. Leary, above was taken very seriously because he was a scientist! Others might have opinions, but psychologists brought data, their opinions outclassed those of lesser shamans. In the dark ages when you were supposed to shut up and listen, the bureaucrats cried "God says!" By the sixties they cried "Studies show!"
Psychology today was a major magazine, Freud was still in power and Jung had a best selling coffee table book at the end of that decade. When you went to the museum, people stood in front of the paintings and talked not about how the paintings looked, or what period they were from. They talked about their feelings, how the paintings made them feel and the psychology of that artist. People didn't know enough about art to talk about it, but they did know, or at least thought they knew how to talk about psychology. They mistook art for Psychology. In fact the idea was that if you knew pop psychology that was all that was necessary to unlock the mysteries of art. You still meet people who think that today.
The art that was most preferred in the 60's was that which lent itself to that treatment. A tortured artist was good for projecting psychological diagnosis's onto. Irving Stones popular biography of Van Gogh gave people something to talk about. He was perhaps the most valued artist of that time. He is still held in very high regard but I think he was more so in the 60's. He was played by Kirk Douglas in the movie.
Andrew Wyeth, a truly great painter was ideal for this era, and appealed to the love of the psychological. He is the most psychological of contemporary traditional painters. There were several painters though who appealed so strongly then whose reputation seems to have slipped like Utrillo's since then. Above is an El Greco. Their otherworldliness made them popular and prints of El Greco were common and he was an artist that people knew. Much ink was spent explaining his art from a contemporary psychological standpoint. Below is another.
The peculiar elongations of his figures were attributed to personal psychology, inspired and were compared to another artist popular during the era who had mental problems, Modigliani. Modigliani was afflicted with alcoholism , tuberculosis and drug addiction, and women absolutely loved him. He was only 5'5" tall and lived a life of total debauchery after he arrived from his native Italy in Montmartre. His lover, twenty one year old Jeanne, nine months pregnant, jumped to her death from a high window a day after his death.
Jeanne Modiglianis model and lover.
Now there's psychological anguish. The importance of his art seemed to peak during the 60's and while still a famous artist his reputation is not now, what it was then. Below is one of his nudes. Rather elegant I think.
I will return tomorrow with another artist who was hot in the 60's