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Skip to 0 minutes and 15 secondsWell, art history of course artists have been at the service of various masters. Artists have been responsible for creating history as it's been seen as the leaders that they served. So, first of all you know, history, on the one hand, history painting was the view of the world by the winners of whatever battle, whatever cultural development was taking place on the one hand. On the other hand, artists have used representational methods to try to give some insight into an individual. And have been like Rembrandt, for example, quite successful, very successful in that respect. But I think that artists have always along with science since the 18th century have always taken this position apart from the world.

Skip to 1 minute and 12 secondsThe artist was always seen as someone standing apart from the world looking at it through a window and then depicting what is seen within that frame. We have said no we will smash that window we will reach in, we will be part of this world that we're looking at rather than standing apart. So, you know, Marshall McLuhan once made a very, very interesting observation and he said that if you take the basic rule of visualization of 19th century 18th - 19th century art perspective, that is everything recedes to a point in trying to depict space.

Skip to 1 minute and 51 secondsIf you take that sort of pyramid, effectively, and put it up on its base, you actually have the political structure that that view of the world served. Which was top-down, the king at the top, knowledge at the top, you know, the serf at the bottom, the unknowing at the bottom. And power was directed downwards. So it made that interesting thing, the pictorial space depicted, certainly in European art in the 18th to 19th century, actually served, in a certain sense, the ideology, the power structure, that actually supported it. Because it would be the state largely that would buy these paintings, the history paintings and so forth.

Skip to 2 minutes and 36 secondsSo, you know, we have to be – I think we have to be diligent in the way that we approach art of different periods in trying to really understand what was at stake and why importance should be accorded to these apparently massive changes in style or in attitude that we find in art. Can I give you one more example? Perhaps one of the more notable artists of the post-war years of 1960s was Jackson Pollock, an American artist. Why was he important? Why was he perhaps one of the most important artists of that whole era? It's because he brought the painting, first of all, from the vertical to the horizontal.

Skip to 3 minutes and 26 secondsHe worked on the horizontal and his subject matter was his own behavior. His own interaction with that surface, creating rhythms on just as McLuhan made the point of perspective being brought up here and mirroring the power, so Pollock was talking about a new development in the world. Partly the result of space -- space sciences on where the birds’ eye view of the world is important, the horizontal view is important. rather than the vertical. And I think there are lots of things to be drawn from that. We can associate the vertical very often with power, with aggression very often. Monuments are very, very vertical and so on.

Skip to 4 minutes and 14 secondsAnd we can talk about the -- the horizontal as the much more interactive arena. And so, you see, every painting of course carries its own image and its own depiction, but also carries a larger metaphor of the shift in perception in the world.

Paradigms of art

The artist was always seen as someone standing apart from the world looking at it through a window and then depicting what is seen within that frame. We have said no. We will smash that window, we will reach in, we will be part of this world that we’re looking at rather than standing apart. Every painting of course carries its own image and its own depiction, but also carries a larger metaphor of the shift in perception in the world.

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This video is from the free online course:

Taoism and Western Culture

DeTao Masters Academy