Modern Art and Mass Culture | MIT Architecture
What is the relationship between high culture and popular culture? spiritual cultivation were thought to depend: intellectual work and the arts. Most people are aware of a distinction between high and low art. a higher art form, but would be okay listening to pop music in the car. What makes high culture different from pop culture is that high culture is harder to understand. High culture is about literature, art, philosophy and other stuff that.
Eliot Media theorist Steven Johnson writes that, unlike popular culture, "the classics—and soon to be classics—are" in their own right descriptions and explanations of the cultural systems that produced them.
In the classical Greco-Roman tradition, the ideal mode of language was published and preserved in works of elevated style correct grammar, syntax, and diction. Certain forms of language used by authors in valorized epochs were held up in antiquity and the Renaissance as eternal valid models and normative standards of excellence; e. Indeed, the Greco-Roman world tended to see such manual, commercial, and technical labor as subordinate to purely intellectual activities.
The leisured gentleman not weighed down by the necessity of earning a living, was free to devote himself to activities proper to such a "free man"  — those deemed to involve true excellence and nobility as opposed to mere utility.
This ideal associated with humanism a later term derived from the humanities or studia humanitatiswas communicated in Renaissance Italy through institutions such as the Renaissance court schools. Renaissance humanism soon spread through Europe becoming much of the basis of upper class education for centuries.
A key contribution of the Renaissance was the elevation of painting and sculpture to a status equal to the liberal arts hence the visual arts lost for elites any lingering negative association with manual artisanship. The early Renaissance treatises of Leon Battista Alberti were instrumental in this regard. However, aristocratic patronage through most of the modern era was also pivotal to the support and creation of new works of high culture across the range of arts, music, and literature.
The subsequent prodigious development of the modern European languages and cultures meant that the modern definition of the term "high culture" embraces not only Greek and Latin texts, but a much broader canon of select literary, philosophical, historical, and scientific books in both ancient and modern languages.
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Of comparable importance are those works of art and music considered to be of the highest excellence and broadest influence e. Together these texts and art works constitute the exemplary artifacts representing the high culture of the Western world.
Cultural traditions In the Western and some East Asian traditions, art that demonstrates the imagination of the artist is accorded the status of high art.
In the West this tradition began in Ancient Greece, was reinforced in the Renaissanceand by Romanticismwhich eliminated the hierarchy of genres within the fine artswhich was established in the Renaissance. In China there was a distinction between the literati painting by the scholar-officials and the work produced by common artists, working in largely different styles, or the decorative arts such as Chinese porcelain which were produced by unknown craftsmen working in large factories.
In both China and the West the distinction was especially clear in landscape paintingwhere for centuries imaginary views, produced from the imagination of the artist, were considered superior works. Some would even consider a poor classical piece better than a great rock song, simply because the classical piece is considered a higher style.
Others take a more tolerant position. Those who place a greater value on high art sometimes believe that high art serves a kind of spiritual or moral function. To them, art has a quasi-religious function, with beauty lifting us to a higher level of spirituality.
Another approach is to simply contrast limited-audience art with popular art, initially leaving value judgments aside. There are several factors that contribute to whether a work will be broadly popular or not. One is how distinctive or unique the work is. Art that places a high premium on uniqueness will generally have a narrower audience. In contrast, popular art often follows proven formulas that have been shown to appeal to large groups.
Popular forms are also often deliberately lower in complexity in order to be easily accessible. In short, popular art will very often be crafted to appeal to a large audience with a minimum of effort by the viewer.
Lastly, popular art is almost invariably mass produced.
Using these criteria, an artwork can be placed along a continuum without the black and white distinction of high and low.
This avoids the implied value judgment of the words high and low, or fine art and craft. And this is where it's really interesting for sociologist to study high and low culture is for these reasons about how people then use culture to set up boundaries with other people to say things about themselves, this is who I'm not, this is who I am.
So a very, very famous sociologist anthropologist social scientist named Pierre Bourdieu. He's famous for studying these things, how class position relates to our tastes, and consumption preferences. If you ask me, he's one of the greatest, most advanced social thinkers of all time.
In his book Distinction, A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, I think it's probably the best social scientific text ever written. So in that book, Bourdieu gave us this theory of how we internalize our class positions, the one we're born into, a very young age. And this then structures our tastes and preferences for life. He called this a habitus.
High and low art | The Rapidian
So Bourdieu then is really the first to give us this idea of how our subjective meanings, thoughts, and beliefs relate to broad structures, such as class.
So that's why he's remembered. Thank you very much for joining me. I hope you enjoyed this brief discussion of high culture and popular culture.