If you've just stumbled onto this blog, please forgive the appearance; it's still under construction. If I've used one of your photos (found on Google) in a lecture and you don't approve, please write a comment and I'll remove it.

The purpose of this blog is to explain the basics of art and culture to English language learners in secondary school in Slovakia. This is not for profit. If you look to your right, you'll see a long list of topics that I plan to cover. This is a large project that will most likely take years to complete, covering some topics I know little about (like dance), so I will be borrowing heavily from other experts, with their permission, giving credit wherever possible. Please be patient, and, of course, all advice is greatly appreciated.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

High & Low Art

Art can be put into two categories: high and low. Civilization is most proud of its high art. It’s a product of genius. It’s so great that it’s iconic––countries use it as a way to promote themselves. Italy has Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo. Austria has Mozart and Beethoven. England has Shakespeare. America has Hemingway and Mark Twain.

Low art can be beautiful, charming, skillfully made, and intelligent. But it’s still not so impressive (pôsobivý) as high art. High art is more profound (hlbšie). It’s more complex, and philosophical. It requires more concentration and sensitivity to make and to appreciate (ceniť). Higher art is harder to understand. Lower art is easier––like art for children. People who make low art can be popular and loved, like J.K. Rowling, but they’re not as highly respected as people who make high art, like Shakespeare.

It’s good to know what these words mean, but it’s not very important in judging art. It doesn’t refer to the quality of the art so much as the quality of the ideas behind them. Some people don’t like to distinguish (rozoznávať) between high and low art. They think it’s snobbish and insulting (urážlivý). Many people prefer “low” art, and they don’t like to feel embarrassed about it.

Sometimes it’s hard to say if an art form is high or low. It’s in-between. Some jazz music is very complex, having more to do with classical music theory than with pop. But, then some jazz music is very simple, like pop. Some films combine elements of high and low art, like Being John Malkovich, or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And, some artists devote their lives to making one-of-a-kind toys, selling them at high prices. So the line between high and low art is blurry (rozdiel je nejasný).

High & Low Art Examples:                 High Art                                                        Low Art

Painting:                     Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Picasso                 Book Illustration, Comics, Cartoons, Advertisements

Sculpture:             Ancient Greek & Roman Sculpture,              Children’s Toys, Furniture & Electronics Design
                                Michelangelo, Rodin                               Crafts like Ceramics, Weaving, Fashion Design,
                                                                                              Jewellery Design

Architecture:            Cathedrals, Palaces, Parks                        Typical Family Homes, Apartments, & Shops

Music:                    Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms,      - Jazz -     Pop Music, The Blues, The Beatles, Britney Spears,
                              Debussy, Chopin                                           R&B, Hip Hop

Theatre:                 Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde,                            Children’s Theatre, Sketch Comedy, Improv,
                              George Bernard Shaw                                   Ventriloquists (bruchomvravce), Puppet Shows

Opera:                   Mozart, Verdi, Puccini                                  Light Opera (Gilbert & Sullivan),
                                                                             Broadway Musicals

Film:                     Avante Garde Film:                                                     Hollywood Blockbusters, Action Films, Children’s

                           Ballet Mécanique, Un chien andalou                              Films, Comedies, Hangover

Dance:                    Ballet, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker                           Hip Hop, Club Dancing, Folk Dancing

Literature:               Shakespeare, William Faulkner,                             Pop Fiction, Pulp Fiction – J.K. Rowling, Collins
                                Hemingway, Fitzgerald                                       (Hunger Games), Mayer (Twilight), Stephen King
                                                                                                            Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park)

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