I was so looking forward to the resumption of my art class at the learning centre but the first reaction to me upon arrival was from one attendee brusquely saying I should not sit next to her as I was not wearing a mask.
I banged my bag down at another space and glowered at her.
This is the problem, namely, so many people are running scared that they are imposing their own safety measures.
This is going to make the return to the new normal a long process.
The course is on post-World War Two Art and Visualisation.
Having done these courses for 4 years now I have come to appreciate that the the title is a mere book cover – it’s the content, based upon our teacher’s comprehensive knowledge of art, that counts.
So she began her introduction to American post-war abstract expressionism with the tradition of American landscape painting and European surrealism which influenced Jackson Pollock, Rothko and the expressionist gang.
There was another more sinister driver, the CIA.
The cold war with the Soviets was not just fought out as geo-politics but a cultural clash too.
In the arts Russia had greater traditions. In literature there were writers Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, in music Tchaikovsky, Rimsky Korsakov, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich.
In art, the great museum of the Hermitage and important collectors like Tschukin and Morozov.
The Americans had to come up with something and that something was abstract expressionism.
Our teacher pointed out the irony of the CIA effectively sponsoring an art movement namely, the artist themselves were left-leaning and – in the case of Rothko – not born in the States.
Indeed one of the strengths of America is the ability to absorb: much of the success of Hollywood in its golden age was due to directors and musicians fleeing the Nazis for America.
The American abstract expressionists do not really engage me and I find this political dimension the more interesting.