The Culture of Success.
Much of American art in the 1980s was shaped by and responded to the consumerism and feel-good conservatism of the Reagan era. In a decade preoccupied with success and image, art got bigger: bigger in scope and ambition (elaborate sets, large casts, and complex narratives for commercial musicals), bigger in theme (epic visions in the works of Neo-Expressionist painters), bigger in budget (record advances for new novels), and bigger in promotion (hyping of pop albums and art auctions). Art also became far bigger as a cultural presence. From twenty-four-hour-a-day media coverage to in-your-face images of pop art, video, and graffiti, art was more immediate, available, and accessible than ever before. The new scale and influence of art suited Americans in the 1980s. With more disposable income than in the 1970s and weary of the pervasive pessimism of that decade, they wanted to enjoy themselves again. They began to spend more money on arts and entertainment, aided by the healthiest national economy since the 1960s. Prices in the art market reached new heights as the wealthy discovered that acquiring fine art was a way to parade their success. With increasing corporate, foreign, and private investment in Hollywood and the rapid growth of computer technology, American cinema became increasingly the province of big-budget adventure spectacles designed like thrill rides and...
(The entire section is 5418 words.)
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