The art of Richard Abraham

In Spirit of Place, his landmark book on contemporary American landscape painting, John Arthur locates the early 1960s as the point where art lost connection with its historical traditions and uncritically embraced a smug, self-absorbed avant-garde aesthetic. These failures led to a “rapid deterioration of basic artistic skills, a growing ignorance of the fundamentals of the visual vocabulary, and a diminished sense of the communicative powers of the visual arts.”

Loss of historical tradition and uncritical embrace of anything new, different and controversial precipitated, Arthur argues, the “trivialization” of art in the ’60s and ’70s:

“Too little is asked and too little is expected of artists, critics, and curators. This unfettered freedom of creative expression, set loose in a cultural vacuum and untempered by any substantial understanding or link with the past, has led to a diversity of formal expression that is consistently marred by the shallowness of its content and expectations.

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