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Double-barrel of shop gum

Stephen Hornsby-Smith
Stephen Hornsby-Smith

Time to send a few random ideas into your front-room. I say no to crafted argument and yes to what may appear below :

Post-War New York enabled Art to evacuate from the devastation of the Nazi blitz and the Allies bombing raids to recapture Europe; but why did global Artist's migrate in such numbers? Perhaps the promise of a geographical relocation that wasn't going to take place amongst the craters and inner-city half-standing remnants of peoples lives? Or perhaps it wasn't a psychological removal from desperate hunger and poverty, or the terrors of the Holocaust and the levels of human depravity? Perhaps people just wanted to enforce instant amnesia by placing oneself in an alien environment and to avoid the consequences of war per se? Or perhaps people wanted to surround themselves with success and a new continent of possibilities that offered originality, creativity and distance from post-war Art? Perhaps the more radical Artist's may have wanted to let their previous pre-war work die with the carnage that their work didn't manage to warn the world of the agony of War? Art 'Guilt' ?I think we are never meant to resolve this but just to immerse ourselves with the many benefits of human companionship that so many Artist's might have found .

New York had never had it so good! It had become a magnet for Art transformation that just had to brand the new adventure of unlimited freedom that needed to be a demonstrative act of action Painting! It may have placed Painting in a self-destructive state longer-term, but it would give birth to Abstract Expressionism made in America ! Why is this so important? Because it would be the starting point of a continent finding it's own identity congealed in Art, and not exhausted by derelict Europe.

Taking 'bullet-points':

- Art had to compete with the US being the first to explore the nuclear suburban family

- Art had to compete with a new American invention of Youth Culture

- Art had to compete with the American adopted son of (especially landscape)Photography,

- Art chose America to compete with the international pain by offering sanctuary and consolation to those who'd needed the distance to contemplate and grieve, and somehow to move-on !

- Art had to compete with the tribulations of being a society of self-design, of self-evolution; there wasn't a blue-print that told America what to do, it just had to work-it out on the job !

- Art had to compete with middle-class consumerism, fast food, adverts about adverts, adverts within an advert etc.

- Art had to compete with social invention of class mobility on an unprecedented mass scale to acomodate the promise of the American Dream,

- Art had to avoid the domesticity and consumerism that distracted the 'Artist world' but not the 'Art World' ! Art mandarins relished the 'delicious fortune that would be made off the back of 'Pop-Art' to be publicly funded Art not by taxes, but by purchase; Abstract Expressionism was publicly reduced to academic intellectualism, (albeit American an invention) for the dark humour of the 'world of the Artist' making ironic criticism's with a satirical agenda that went largely unnoticed against the popularism of Art by the consumer and not the maker ! 'High Art' was not how it was sold to the American public. Yes, that's right, General Andy Warhol offered every one 15 minutes of fame for a re-print with 'added modifications' of the rich and famous, glamorizing the world of Art money-making, making it a bone fide 'profession' !

- Art had to contend with trailblazing invention and not revolution;

- Art had to live with ex-European radicals being shunned by the post world Cold War realities and environment too

- Art could not stop the 24/7 society that never sleeps. A culture of power-house generations did not experience the sun never setting like in the pre-war British Empire, but delivered the here and now made permanent at every time, all the time,forever time, non-stopping time that never slept sunrise or sunset !

- Art had to compete with the new middle-class car, built to engineer America.Modes of transportation of goods and products met the insatiable demands of new markets

- Art had to deal with a duality of American policy :an American subsidized European rebuild and reconstruction based upon Keynesian economics in Europe, but that an entirely different economic policy for the US - namely uncontested unlimited free market competition to enable a broader Western capitalism to be enjoyed by the US for the US . Opportunity availed itself and the US did not look a gift horse in the mouth !. America did sneeze in Europe and plunged Churchill's Tories into the abyss of a Labour Socialist party who played right into the American hands by a nationalization programme ! There were those who warned of this, but they were not the majority. Sneeze all you want said America, but America had worked hard in New York and sunned itself on its coastal holiday in Florida !

- Art had to compete with Senator MacCarthy and the invasion of the body snatchers invention that unfortunately was part of America's consolidation period. But it was also the first Western mass fear of 'Soviet invasion' by infiltration that illustrated American fears of the very open democracy and materialism that had drawn many to America in the first place! Britain had had to deal with such fears itself during the Napoleonic expansionist imperial French, where the Russian Bear of Winter would bring an end to Napoleon ! But the Soviet Bear.....that was a different animal altogether !

- Art had to compete with fear and internecine 'threat', that 'homegrown lefties' were being manipulated into Communists seeking to destroy the American Dream !

- Art had to compete with the responsibility of accomodating the 'growing pains' of American superpower status.



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