Which two landmarks would you consider most representative of late nineteenth-century Western culture the so-called “Age of Materialism”?
- Which two landmarks would you consider most representative of late nineteenth-century Western culture the so-called “Age of Materialism”? Explain why.
- How did advancing technology affect the arts of the late nineteenth century? Provide specific examples.
Age of Materialism
Age of Materialism
Landmarks of the Age of Materialism
The age of materialism was coupled with the domination of philosophers who had idealist agenda for power and autonomy. Among the landmarks of the age of materialism is the development of the industrial era and the urban scene through the development of art. The industrial era entailed massive improvements in the economy of the west, where there were numerous inventions that led to the production of a more economically rigid society (Taylor, 2018). The developments included Cornelius Vanderbilt’s railway industries, which were closely followed by Andrew Carnegie’s steel and John. D. Rockefeller’s oil refining (Zepke, 2017). These developments in the age of materialism were aimed at improving the movement of people around the world as well as the sources of power for industrial plants throughout the world. With time, Henry Ford also invented the first earth-driven locomotives, and the wright brothers invented the first airplanes, an invention that contributed to the intensity of the first world war which was to come a few years later (Zepke, 2017).
The development of modern art is also a crucial landmark in the age of materialism. Throughout the industrial revolution, there was the development of social classes, where the upper classes represented loyalty, and was used to rule the lower classes. Painters represented these ideologies of oppression of the lower class using art such as paintings. A good example is Jean-Francois Millet’s painting, Oil on Canvas, which shows people of the lower class working in farms (Basile, 2018). It represents the 1848 rebellions that the lower class people had in their oppositions to working in bad conditions with the sporadic urban revolts.
How Advancing Technology affected Arts of the 19th Century
There are many ways in which the advance of technology created changes in the arts of the 19th century. The birth of photography specifically created realism in visual arts. In 1836, William Fox Talbot served as a major revolutionist in the age of materialism through his development of the camera, which was used to record still images of live events that happened (Jaspers & Pieters, 2016). Through the rise in photography, eyewitness accounts were made more surreal, and it challenged romanticism. Also, in a large way the types of painting changed through the introduction of technology and the industrial revolutions. Jean-Francois Millet was seen as the peasant painter through his numerous representations of the oppressed farm workers, with his most famous painting being ‘Gleaner.’ Before him, paintings were based more on creativity, fashion, and other less impulsive forms.
Technology has also made art more available where the accessibility of images, presentations, and performances was made easier. The painters in the 19th century also advanced from sculptures to more advanced 3D like paintings that were easier to share and carried even more intense message (Jaspers & Pieters, 2016). With technology, there was more creativity, as painters would aim their art to be like that represented by cameras and photography forms. For instance, the use of special frames for their different pieces of art was practiced extensively in this era. Lastly, through technology, it was easier for painters to make more original art, as it would be hard to copy the art of someone who has already obtained the patents for their work. In a large way, technology led to the revolution of art in a positive way.
Basile, J. (2018). Misreading Generalised Writing: From Foucault to Speculative Realism and New Materialism. Oxford Literary Review, 40(1), 20-37.
Jaspers, E. D., & Pieters, R. G. (2016). Materialism across the life span: An age-period-cohort analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(3), 451.
Taylor, S. (2018). Moving beyond materialism: Can transpersonal psychology contribute to cultural transformation. The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 36 (2), 147-159.
Zepke, S. (2017). The Animist Readymade: Towards a Vital Materialism of Contemporary Art. In Animism in Art and Performance (pp. 235-252). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.