it seems like the distinction between "representational" (or imitative) and "non-representational" art that arose after the invention of photography tended to lump all art from before this distinction arose into the "representational" category (with "new" art being distinguished, and seen as virtuous, as "non-representational"). but of course before this distinction was drawn there was no such taxonomy and artists wouldn't have conceptualized themselves as belonging to either category
in a sense photography was just the culmination of a particular school of post-renaissance photo-realistic art in europe (which already used photography-like techniques like camera obscura etc), and the focus of "modern" art on materiality was a reaction to *that*, not a priori pioneering in non-representational art. because of course even a cursory glance at visual art throughout the world reveals a focus on materiality (from the beginning, even back to, like, lascaux)
(which explains why the spoils of colonialism were so often exploited in early modernist art—dada and west african art, pound and chinese poetry... elsewhere in the world they found the non-imitative they had thought they were inventing!) this makes me wonder if this representational/non-representational distinction has arisen multiple times in history in multiple places? anyway, this has been Allison Pretends To Know About Art History, thx for tuning in, Blue Apron, a better way to cook
@aparrish I think we can guess at why an empire would want to promote the idea of Art as a thing that communicates nothing coherent. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/modern-art-was-cia-weapon-1578808.html
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