| 22 April, 2012 13:34
When I was an art teacher, I always taught of the time in History, when Art was as integrated in society as is photography. Look around at the proliferation of photography everywhere and try to imagine a time when there were equal amounts of hand-made visual art in its place, if you can.
Archeologists discovered the Cave Paintings at Lascaux, France in 1940. Those haunting images come to us from the Upper Paleolithic age over 17,000 years ago. The well-drawn, sophisticated renderings bespeak a history of this kind of drawing; a style had to have been taught and learned to achieve that level of accomplishment.
Artists were tolerated, nay, supported, for their keen contribution; they left a record of the daily life of the hunter-gatherers, one the non-artists understood easily, and those non-artists appreciated the work, yes, the work, the artists did, that now had a place in the daily life of people who had just made the leap that fire afforded and could reside now in the great caves and caverns. Without fire, those were the denizens of the fiercest predators, until fire lighted the way, scaring them, and creating our first permanent housing.
Such appreciation disappeared in 1830 when photography reared its head...that was the beginning, the proverbial writing on the wall. By the end of the 19th century artists that had fruitful occupations lost their market entirely. It drove many to the brink of disaster, others to suicide. For thousands of years we were fruitful and suddenly assigned to garrets making art for its own sake, forgetting our past, lurching in awkward ways into an uncertain future.