Art for the masses

Our M.A essay deadline is looming. In just three weeks I have to hand it in. Over the last few years I have  dreaded these deadlines. I have often struggled to find an interesting topic – one that has enough information available in the library, while also being something relevant and current. Without fail I always run short of the word count. I hate when I hear people complain about going over the word count. Really? I feel sooo sorry for you. Once, a tutor of mine took a disliking to me, so I wrote an essay about masculinity in art. She was a raging feminist who believed ‘gender’ was social construct made by men to destroy women. I got 40%. At least she passed me! Anyway as I’m doing my Masters now and it’s probably the last time I have to write an essay again I feel like I should at least try and write about something relevant to my practise.

I have decided to settle on the topic of art for the masses – specifically artists who make interventions into public spaces not normally associated with art. The two areas I find most compelling are billboards and television. Both have been used to communicate art to the masses with various outcomes. Many of you have probably already heard of artists who have used billboards as a form of communicating. Billboards are normally used to promote and advertise but it has been frequently used by artists since the 60’s as way of communicating to the masses.  Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Unmade bed” comes to mind, as does Yoko Ono’s “Imagine  Peace” billboards.
But television art seems a bit of an absurd idea. Gerry Schum attempted it in the 60’s in Berlin. He had grandiose plans to bring art to the masses via T.V. He managed to broadcast a 3 minute exhibition of a number of artists who specifically tailored their art to fit the T.V medium (Jan Diblets work was a shot of a fire, so the T.V looked like a fireplace). There was no introduction to the art it just appeared on peoples screens. Unfortunately for Schum nothing similar was ever broadcast on T.V again. One might think that this was essentially a failure, however the title of the exhibition was called “Land Art” (many artists in the exhibition were the first land artists) this was the first time the term was ever used. It spawned a whole movement but as a medium it has rarely been used since. 
I am interested in comparing these two genres. Not so much on their success and failure but perhaps more on their effects and outcomes within the art world. Is fine art for the masses really possible? Or is it illegible for general consumption? Both examples give compelling arguments for both sides of this debate. Stay tuned to find out. Pun intended!
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