There Can Be No International Art
BOME TIME ago an American art historian and critic, Suzi Gablik toured India under the sponsorship of the United States International Communication Agency, lecturing at various art centres of the country and meeting artists and critics. She was not half as interested in seeing, as in demonstrating a thesis contained in her then recent book titled Progess in Art1
The main postulate of the book, that the law of linear development from a lower stage to a higher stage is operative in art, is nothing new. Art historians of a variety of ideological persuasions, from the formalists who believe that art has a secular history totally unconnected with any other history, to historicists with sociological inclinations who believe that art is a reflection of social reality, hold that art has a developmental history more or less similar to other fields of human thought and action. There would have been no need to take these theories of unilinear progress in art seriously had these theories been post facto theories only, without any impact on the practice of art as such. But often a group of innovative artists come to hold the view that their works represent the epitome of progress in art. Oftener, a far large number of art practitioners come to believe that certain types of art are advanced while certain other types are backward. Thinking thus, they try to emulate this so-called advanced art. I will presently go into details about why this type of thinking holds sway, but for the moment, let us take up the missing thread about Gablik's book.
Journal of Arts and Ideas