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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: June 2012

14 - The Globalization of Advanced Art in the Twentieth Century


Art and Globalization

The whole work, called art, knows no borders or nations, only humanity.

Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, 1911

During the twentieth century, the center of the advanced art world shifted from Paris to New York. Yet Paris and New York were not the only places where important innovations were produced. A number of other major cities also served, more briefly, as centers of creative activity.

Throughout the modern era, important artists have originated in diverse places: no one nativity has had a monopoly. During the twentieth century, however, there was a marked increase in the diversity of the geographic origins of innovative artists.

Both the proliferation of artistic centers and the growing number of nationalities represented by important modern artists are important aspects of the globalization of advanced art in the twentieth century. Both are also consequences of the increased diffusion of artistic innovations. Over time, new artistic techniques and styles have spread both more rapidly and more widely than previously. This increased diffusion has in turn been a consequence of the increasingly conceptual nature of advanced art during the past century.

This chapter will provide an overview of how and when the central locations of advanced art changed during the twentieth century. This will be done by surveying some of the key movements. For each, the sources and implications of its principal innovations will be considered.