Suzi Gablik is an art critic who stands out among her peers for her unique perspective on the history of the visual arts and the window they provide on the evolution of human civilization. As she argues in her book Progress in Art, the history of styles in art is not random. Rather, changes in pictorial conventions (the way images are depicted by painters and sculptors in different eras) reflect large-scale changes in the culture and consciousness of the times that produced them. The difference between the way a medieval and a Renaissance artist renders space, for example, reveals the shift from a God-centered worldview to one in which the individual human being is the measure of all things.
This week, WIE editors Carter Phipps and Carol Raphael speak with Gablik about the correlation between art and evolution, the state of the visual arts today, and the emergent trends she sees on the horizon. Drawing on her long career as a cultural observer, Gablik vividly describes the impact of an out-of-control art market on artists today. And she makes an ardent case for the importance of renewing the arts with a higher purpose, praising those artists who are leaving the isolation of their studios in an attempt to reconnect with a wider community.