Culture of New York City
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The culture of New York City is shaped by centuries of immigration, the city's size and variety, and its status as the cultural capital of the United States. Many major American cultural movements first emerged in the city. The Harlem Renaissance established the African-American literary canon in the United States, while American modern dance developed in New York in the early 20th century. The city was the epicenter of jazz in the 1940s, abstract expressionism in the 1950s, and the birthplace of hip hop as well as Punk Rock in the 1970s.
New York City is an important international center for music, film, theater, dance and visual art. Wealthy industrialists in the 19th century built a network of major cultural institutions, such as Carnegie Hall and the Whitney Museum of American Art, that became internationally established and that sustain cultural life in the city today. Artists have been drawn to the city by opportunity, as well; the city government funds the arts with a larger annual budget than the National Endowment for the Arts, and New York is a major center of the global art market.
The 1913 Armory Show in New York City, an exhibition which brought European modernist artists' work to the U.S., both shocked the public and influenced art making in the United States for the remainder of the twentieth century. The exhibition had a twofold effect of communicating to American artists that artmaking was about expression, not only aesthetics or realism, and at the same time showing that Europe had abandoned its conservative model of ranking artists according to a strict academic hierarchy. This encouraged American artists to find a personal voice, and a modernist movement, responding to American civilization, emerged in New York. Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946), photographer, Charles Demuth (1883–1935) and Marsden Hartley (1877–1943), both painters, helped establish an American viewpoint in the fine arts. Stieglitz promoted cubists and abstract painters at his 291 Gallery on 5th Avenue. The Museum of Modern Art, founded in 1929, became a showcase for American and international contemporary art. By the end of World War II, Paris had declined as the world's art center while New York emerged as the center of contemporary fine art in both the United States and the world.
In the years after World War II, a group of young New York artists known as the New York School formed the first truly original school of painting in America that exerted a major influence on foreign artists: abstract expressionism. Among the movement's leaders were Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), Willem de Kooning (1904–1997), and Mark Rothko (1903–1970). The abstract expressionists abandoned formal composition and representation of real objects to concentrate on instinctual arrangements of space and color and to demonstrate the effects of the physical action of painting on the canvas.
New York's vibrant visual art scene in the 1950s and 1960s also defined the American pop art movement. Members of this next artistic generation favored a different form of abstraction: works of mixed media. Among them were Jasper Johns (1930– ), who used photos, newsprint, and discarded objects in his compositions. Pop artists, such as Andy Warhol (1930–1987), Larry Rivers (1923–2002), and Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997), reproduced, with satiric care, everyday objects and images of American popular culture—Coca-Cola bottles, soup cans, comic strips.
Today New York is a global center for the international art market. The industry is clustered in neighborhoods known for their art galleries, such as Chelsea and DUMBO, where dealers representing both established and up-and-coming artists compete for sales with bigger exhibition spaces, better locations, and stronger connections to museums and collectors. Wall Street money and funds from philanthropists flow steadily into the art market, often prompting artists to move from gallery to gallery in pursuit of riches and fame.
Enriching and countering this mainstream commercial movement is the constant flux of underground movements, such as hip-hop art and graffiti, which engendered such artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and continue to add visual texture and life to the atmosphere of the city.
Long Island City (LIC) in Queens is rapidly flourishing art scene in New York City, serving as home to the largest concentration of arts institutions outside of Manhattan. Its abundance of industrial warehouses provide ample studio and exhibition space for many renowned artists, museums and galleries.