This article is by Brian Sherwin, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY, artnet, WorldNetDaily (WND) and Art Fag City. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 21,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. Disclaimer: This author's views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
The middle section of a triptych titled The Last Judgment. Hieronymus Bosch created the triptych after 1482 -- just one example of how long apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic themes have been explored in art (the history goes back further than this piece).
The art world is no stranger to the exploration of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic themes. In fact, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic themes can be found scattered throughout the pages of documented art history. There are examples from a number of civilizations -- ranging from religious inspired paintings to plague inspired etchings... and everything in between. The apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic inspired artworks of today often lack the hardline stances associated with the themes in the past. That said, these two themes have definitely been on the rise over the last decade. It is more than a mere trend -- and it deserves to be discussed.
Artist Steve McGhee has gained a lot of attention for creating digital artwork that explore apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic settings.
Themes surrounding visions of the apocalypse and post-apocalypse have long been a staple within the world of art. Additionally, the two themes have commonly been found in literature and music. Even the 'new kid of the block', film, has been used to explore apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic settings extensively. That said, the way in which these settings are embraced has drastically changed compared to the past. Thus, the public -- in general -- views these two themes with 'fresh eyes'. I, for one, find that shift in direction to be most interesting.
Fans of artist Matteo Massagrande often note that his paintings of abandoned buildings and interior decay remind them of what a post-apocalyptic urban setting would look like.
As suggested earlier, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic themes are no longer strictly bound by religious doctrines or ideological safeguards, if you will. These two themes can -- and often do -- have new meanings today. In a sense, there is a more diverse exploration of 'The End' compared to the traditional cautionary warnings concerning eternal damnation. Furthermore, the basic horror surrounding these themes is still common – BUT these themes can be interpreted as a twisted form of paradise instead of just pure Hell.
Artist Chet Zar has noted that thinking about apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic scenarios fuels his imagination.
With the above in mind, I would argue that current apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic themes, specifically in art, have become a form of escapism -- perhaps something to be desired... something that is eerily positive -- rather than scenarios to be feared. In other words, the two themes have become an 'escape' from the fast-paced, information driven age in which we live in. For example, I'm certain that most of us have heard someone speak of the 'what ifs' or the 'this is what I would do's concerning these scenarios in general... almost as if these settings are longed for. That is the 'shift' I mentioned earlier.
The Art of Video Games, an exhibit at the Smithsonian, featured the art and design of Fallout 3 -- a video game set in post-apocalyptic America.
In closing, this topic is not one that I can tackle in a single article. Consider this a call for a discussion about apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic themes in current art. These directions are clearly on the rise... and the familiar 'Good vs. Evil' interpretations of the past don't necessarily apply today (though it is not hard to find traces of those traditions). The themes have become far more complex - demons have been replaced by nuclear weapons, antiheroes break the traditions of old, lines are blurred. There needs to be more dialogue concerning how these themes are explored today in art -- and how they apply in a contemporary context.
Take care, Stay true,