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The Triumph of Serious Art

  • Hans Abbing
Chapter

Abstract

In what I call “the period of serious art” (circa 1880–1980), respect for serious art—and not popular art—is high. Presently it is going down. I discuss the emergence of a separation between serious art and popular art as well as other entertainment in the second half of the nineteenth century. In this period, art-worlds become established. They run prestigious halls, theatres and museums, and determine what is art, what is not really art, and who is a real artist and who is not. Non-profits are established. Art-worlds guard quality and progress in the arts and construct a tangible and intangible art heritage. For their functioning, the new art-worlds rely on public and private support.

Within art-worlds there is innovation, and this leads to conflicts and occasional revolutions. Unlike in the popular arts, mainstream art is taboo, the same as imitation and retro art. It is unrecognized and inferior art. In popular art, innovations are diffused in a more organic way and without major conflicts. Audiences more easily go along. This partly explains the success of popular art.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Abbing
    • 1
  1. 1.AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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