Wednesday, October 03, 2007

storytelling in art history

James Gurney (author/illustrator of the Dinotopia books) has been blogging the making of the his Dinotopia paintings. In a recent post he writes about the place of illustration, animation and comics in art history, he offers these two diagrams by Dennis Nolan:

"The problem with this analysis is that it doesn’t take into consideration the forms of art that real people—like your great grandparents and my great grandparents—were excited about, namely illustration, comic art, and animation. In art history courses we never heard about these forms, nor about the artists who told stories with pictures."

"Dennis’s diagram puts the storytelling forms squarely in the center of the mainstream history of art, where they directly inherit the legacy of the ages. The modern movement still plays a significant, if culturally marginal, role as agent provocateur."

This makes a lot of sense to me. In the midst of the new mainstream I would add all film matte-painting and concept art. I've always felt that some of the stuff on say or had much more in common with Rembrandt and da Vinci then most modern 'fine' art.

In addition to the centrality of Story-Telling that Dennis highlights, I would also add that illustration, comics etc have the following in common with traditional art most of which modernism lacks:
  • Art as Storytelling
  • Art has healthy relation to Science (Anatomy,Optics, perspective, and now physics)
  • Art as Work (commissions, making money isn't bad)
  • Art as Representation
  • Art that in some way is Beautiful
(more ramblings on this topic here)

So, perhaps modernism will only be an ugly short-lived curiosity in the final story of art.

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