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Great art is usually a symptom of aristocracy. You need plenty of surplus income to fund the arts, and you need a giant ego to feel good about funding the arts in a way which reflects on your personal glory.

Artistocrats have both, so historically, art tends to be more marginalised during more populist periods.

The one exception was the 20th century, when mass media made it possible to create a mass market for music and design - but not so much for fine art, which with only a few exceptions (Guernica...) remained aspirational and/or aristocratic.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jul 1st, 2008 at 04:21:56 AM EST
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Eric Hobsbawm in The Age of Extremes noted that one distinctive feature of the 20th Century was that, for the first time in history, cultural fashions derived not from aristocratic sources but rather from pop culture.

In  many ways, it seems to me, movies have replaced courtly sculpture and painting.  Of course there are movies that are targeted at a more up scale audience as well as the summer block busters. And QEII can well afford to commission portraits, landscapes and sculptures, but they don't seem to have the same effect as in earlier times.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jul 1st, 2008 at 03:00:36 PM EST
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