Saturday 20 October, 3.30pm until 5.00pm, Fountain Room
The Prado and the Louvre, the Barbican Centre and the Lincoln Center, the Concertgebouw and the LA Philharmonic: all champion the greats, the established and traditional. But how does this significant artistic heritage, much of it European, relate to wider society today? Is there a genuine enthusiasm for the likes of Wagner and Leonardo, Picasso and Puccini, keeping the culture of the past fresh and alive? Or are today’s passive consumers simply lapping up the repackaged greatest hits of yesterday?
Of course the great global arts centres also showcase the new: operas by Philip Glass and Thomas Adès, art by Grayson Perry or Tracey Emin, to name a few. How do these works of art relate to the recognised and traditional canon? Do contemporary artists find inspiration within it or in their distance from it? Or do they draw on their own experience and particularity? And is society’s ability to distinguish and comprehend an art form becoming less straightforward? Take popular music: once there were recognisable subcultures like Mods, Rockers, Punks, Indie and so on. In the 1990s, some argue, these subcultures decomposed, leaving us with the isolation of the DIY Spotify generation today. There can appear to have been a process of fragmentation of forms with its logical end point in the mashup. And equally, pop phenomena like Adele, Lana Del Rey or Justin Bieber seem to have been created from scratch by record labels, stage schools and talent shows. What space does this leave for original, coherent artistic work to be achieved in an increasingly saturated, as well as short-termist, environment? Is there a danger that the arts might be becoming something like World Music? Apparently for us all, but really an entirely new invention lacking roots. Fine artists appear almost overnight as global superstars – aptly parodied in Exit Through the Gift Shop – and are self-defined rather than identified in terms of any particular artistic tradition or movement.
Or is this all just nostalgia for a certain generation’s lost youth? Creativity, originality and strong cultural identity require time and tradition but also a willingness to embrace the unknown, the uncharted, the new. The arts can help to unearth this within any field, but is society thirsty for this? Is this pioneering spirit prevalent and nurtured? What needs to be done to aid this search?
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professor of philosophy and former head of department, University of Malta; poet; playwright; theatre director; three-times winner, National Literary Prize
composer; professor of composition, Queen's University Belfast
|Jane McAdam Freud|
sculptor and multi-disciplinary artist; teacher in sculpture, Central St Martins, University of the Arts London and Morley College, London
arts editor, the Spectator; co-director, the London Contemporary Music Festival
architect; writer; Middle East commentator; co-author, Manifesto: Towards a New Humanism in Architecture
Dr Tiffany Jenkins
writer and broadcaster, author, Keeping Their Marbles: how treasures of the past ended up in museums and why they should stay there
Frieze Masters offers a fresh perspective on historical art by highlighting the dialogue between the old and the newSusan Moore, Financial Times, 5 October 2012
Classical music is changing. There are operas in bars, Baroque bands in pubs, circus acrobats in concert halls. Rock stars compose. Classical clubbing is de rigeur. What is going on? In this series of articles, Paul Kilbey talks to some of the key figures making changes in classical music, and tries to make some sense of it all.Paul Kilbey, bachtrack, 14 September 2012
An exclusive excerpt from Igor Toronyi-Lalic's report on the state of British public artIgor Toronyi-Lalic, Artsdesk, 4 June 2012
As the distinctive profile of The Shard continues to rise over London Bridge, it’s worth contemplating what this latest addition to London’s skyline signifies. Regardless of its relatively modest size, it is an example of the quality of architecture that London deserves but doesn’t get much of. Why is this energetic city that attracts creative talent from all over the world deprived of highly-ambitious works of architecture?Karl Sharro, karlsharro.co.uk, 2010
Architecture today, even at its most innovative, seems to lack a visionary quality.Karl Sharro, karlsharro.co.uk, 2005