As the 1970s dawned, American society was still reeling from the political and social upheavals of the 1960s and the artistic explosions that accompanied them. Artists and their public alike were experiencing a period of freedom and taboo-breaking unprecedented in American history. Change was occurring so rapidly, in fact, that it earned sociologist Alvin Toffler's tag "future shock." When the smoke cleared there seemed to be little left that artists had not tried or audiences had not seen. Tom Wolfe declared that the novel was dead. Pop art had peaked. The commercial theater, as evidenced by the dearth of new Broadway hits, seemed equally exhausted of ideas. And popular music, one of the great unifying cultural forces of the 1960s, began to lose its impact as fans subdivided into small factions. Thus art in the 1970s became defined by fragmentation of artists and their audiences, the retreat from collective movements in favor of personal statements, and the desire to create new art forms by fusing existing forms.
In the wake of the artistic innovations of the 1960s, movements and art forms that had seemed groundbreaking or revolutionary played themselves out. Artists began to move in different directions. As the black and women's movements gathered momentum, some minorities used art to express new feelings of...
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