The litmus test of social friction and ideological anxiety is gauged by how high or low the status of the medium of Painting is? I will look at the Cold War and its aftermath to see if such an idea has any validity.
There is little preparation or visualization to allay fears of what would happen if the Cold War was ever over. Why ? Perhaps because the Cold War had ironically provided stability and security for mutual entrenchment. But Gorbochev's perestroika and glasnost began to offer a different narrative, and slowly the medium of Painting was lured out of its Soviet lair and into a new world of ambivalence!?! And then something else was triggered , something no one had predicted?....... what if the supposed nemesis of Painting, western Abstract Expressionism , may have actually done the opposite and breathed some longer term life into the lungs of the medium of Painting ?
Perhaps the ever expanding and changing Universe of' 'Abstraction to the Figurative Painting' had been shackled from the immediate aftermath of the WW2 until well after the end of the Cold War, or mothballed until its perspectives could enable and not polarize.? No longer seen as coordinates on deterministic trajectories the expanding of possibilities was infinite and not predictable?! The world of boundaries, forms and frontiers, limitations, threats and imprisonment was no longer !! In fact the fearful Painting community in the 'East' may still in part want the West to find a parallel universe to put all the stuff it doesn't like in ,such as the controversial nature of Action Painting and abstract expressionism' ?!! Why not feel animosity towards a piece of real estate Art that torpedoed your livelihood in the East, and the West for that matter? Why sever the eye to hand to brush to paint to canvas of millennia because you don't feel 'connected enough......to ...or? That's right, find a reason or excuse or an apology after you've killed the primal human contact with the universe !! Mr Pollock wasn't the smartest but I'm sure his friends told him what he was doing.....or how he could justify it ? Perhaps if you put........ (stay with me) ...an invisible hand to connect the Universe with Human Paint? That'll do ! No ?
And now the big idea: it's time to revise our view of the action Painters and the Abstract expressionists in general by 're-writing' their impact on Painting that followed : Is it the invisible hand stupid ? You know 'Mr economic-man', or shed loads of money? Or , has Art been taking backhanders let alone Mr invisible hand in front too!? Mind you, beats the iron fist every day of the week ! Indeed, Painting did become a weapon during the Cold War' to freeze Art or to boil it in its own juices ! Guess which is which ? Guess who deconstructed, unpicked and exposed to the Art vultures.....a new generation in the West who'd enjoyed the multiculturalism and all its social mobility in sharp comparison with the East who may have academic qualities up to the necks but the acrid nature of formalism breathing in their lungs and who may be unable to disabuse themselves from the narrative of 'form' ! That's where the slaying of the Abstract expressionists and action painters come in There are just too many possible visual image makings and much gratitude owed to Painters who saw and endured the Cold War through and stayed true to that medium cause to not pay at least even in hindsight some residual respect , who didn't fall for short cuts (self- bribery or self-blackmail ) and who didn't sculpt monstrosities such as monumental Lenin or Stalin statues or 'soldiers and factory workers celebrating victory' , and who also didn't jump -ship from one medium to another when the going got tough and the money ran -out ! in fact if Paintings' popularity is a measure of levels of social friction and social anxiety, the fact that so many Western Painters and their Eastern colleagues still pursue their chosen medium tells us that Painting remains true, not to some obtuse reasoning or to some high spec intellectual over qualified urbane sophistry but because Paint is primal and yet our first means of communicating and documenting culture to and with each other and remains almost our first social dialogue beyond our group. That means it has potential to be high tech or low tech even under the cloak of some 19th century cynic!