3 Times Art Made a Difference
Most of the time, art is used as a way to express oneself and deliver a message. People usually admire the work, or maybe criticize it, and move on. However, every once in a while, there comes a piece of art that causes a significant change.
Whether the artists challenge what already exists or create something completely innovative or un-thought of before, it stirs up conversation and causes a shift in the way people think. Contemporary art can be used to comment on the world, as an attempt to implement change, to raise awareness, or even just to express oneself. However, when all the elements combine together in perfect harmony, art has the power to change the world, as can be seen in some of the following examples.
1. Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol
Prior to 1962, art was mostly used to capture larger-than-life ideas; it was meant to be aesthetically pleasing over anything else. Andy Warhol introduced the idea that art doesn’t necessarily have to be about the big and powerful and that it could be about mundane objects as well. As a result, he ended up introducing the pop art movement.
Exploring the lines between artistic expressions, mass production, celebrity culture, and the mass media culture on the whole, Andy Warhol became one of the most influential yet controversial artists of his time. When his Campbell’s Soups Cans painting was first exhibited in LA, many people just dismissed it. Yet, the following years would cause his methods to be endlessly questioned, explored, and eventually mimicked. We can still see his influence in the advertising and mass production industries to this day.
2. Guernica by Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso is known for the symbolism and surrealism used in his painting and is one of the most famous painters in the world to this day. His mural Guernica took a slightly darker turn than usual as he depicted the massacre of a Basque village.
However, today it has become a representation of every city ever bombed in history. The strong and critical message that Pablo tried to deliver through his mural in 1931 didn’t just succeed in doing so but also stood the tests of time. In fact, Pablo even refused to has the painting on display in Spain until justice had been restored.
3. My Bed by Tracy Emin
While there’s a huge conversation about what exactly constitutes art, it will be an injustice not to mention Tracy Emin’s work in art that made a difference. When she first displayed My Bed in 1998, it instantly became one of the most controversial pieces of art at the time, many dismissing it as being art at all.
After having a breakdown, Tracy Emin ended up spending four straight days in bed. When she was finally able to get out of it, she was shocked to see the condition of the bed. My Bed was an attempt to recreate that scene, complete with smoked cigarettes on the side table, half-empty bottles of alcohol, condoms, razors, contraceptive pills, toothpaste tubes, polaroids, and other mundane and controversial objects. Despite getting a backlash, the artwork managed to address the taboos about people’s intimate spaces, female imperfections, bodily fluids and, most importantly, depression.