This book is a sociological study of stylistic changes, patterns of success, judgment and taste in two art worlds: the world of abstract avant-garde art, and the world of figurative painting, which is aesthetically traditional. The two art worlds are the two subsystems in the social structure of Israeli painting. This case-study in the sociology of art is meant for anyone interested in culture and society.
Sociology of art may have two orientations. On the one hand, one can use sociology to deepen one's understanding of art; on the other hand, art can be used in order to add to one's understanding of social reality. It is the second orientation which lies at the basis of this book.
Art is, of course, a social phenomenon. Besides being a product of a specific activity, it is, at any given time, this activity itself, patterned and performed by people assuming certain roles and acting in the framework of certain norms and expectations, which is related to a certain set of values. This amounts to a definition of a social institution. Being a social institution, art is as good a subject for the study of society as any other social institution – say the family, or science. But, like these, it is also a social institution suigeneris, and is, therefore, more suitable for some studies and less suitable for others.