Artists, Public Intellectuals and Social Change: A Comparative Historical Perspective on the Social Construction of Artistic Recognition
Three art movements: CoBrA, American Abstract Expressionism, and Mexican Muralism emerged in the early and middle parts of the twentieth century. All three were championed by significant public intellectuals: Christian Dotremont, Clement Greenberg, and Jose Vasconcelos; and produced specific internationally acclaimed artists: Asger Jorn, Jackson Pollock, and Diego Rivera. This paper is an interpretative, transdisciplinary and comparative analysis of these movements that draws on social history, art history, and sociology. Adopting a sociological framework informed by the works of Pierre Bourdieu, it is proposed that artistic recognition and canonization require the nourishment of public intellectuals but flourish or wither due to a fortuitous location within changing social, economic and political conditions and by having a discursive compatibility or incompatibility with the agenda of emerging dominant social classes.
Keywords: Visual Artists, Public Intellectuals, Cultural Capital, Pierre Bourdieu, Comparative Analysis, Mexico, The United States of America Western Europe
Dr. Janet M. C. Burns
Professor, Department of Social Science, University of New Brunswick