Historical Context

Although not explicitly stated, it is easy to deduce that 36 Views is set in the modern era and, most likely, in a large, culturally rich area. The last half of the twentieth century up to the present has been a tumultuous time in art. Art movements, as they were typically understood, began to recess. It was as though the artists who created movements were being replaced by the decisions of dealers and critics. In response to the current conundrum of modern art, Robert Hughes states in his book The Shock of the New, ‘‘The year 1900 seemed to promise a renewed world, but there can be few who watch the approach of the year 2000 with anything but scepticism and dread. Our ancestors saw expanding cultural horizons, we see shrinking ones.’’ Iizuka must share a similar reproach. The play 36 Views constantly and diligently questions the fabric of the contemporary art world.

From the early 1900s up to the 1970s, art was hinged to the aesthetic. Artists believed in progress and the future. They worked to deny the past in order to create new movements and a renewal of a world rich with art. Art, as it progressed, was seen to convey spirituality and transcendence. It was rich with response to social and political events. Modern artists worked to separate art from craft. Art, as history, was presented as a single narrative. The modernists saw art as a progressive change that could be viewed historically. The modernists promoted a pure appreciation of art and saw art as a great asset to society. It was reasonable and justifiable to be trained in the universals of art, in terms of a pure sense of style and technique, just as a doctor is trained in the universals of medicine. The appreciation and understanding of contemporary art soared during these years.

However, modern art...

(The entire section is 741 words.)