American Art Viewed from Denmark: from a sceptical start to accepted standard

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Tania Ørum, Vibeke Petersen Gether

Until the mid-1960s the art scene in Denmark was mainly focused on Paris as the art capital of the world. Art historians, art critics and mainstream artists had little interest in American art, which was not taught at universities until the late 1970s. The American post-war avant-garde was primarily introduced to a Danish audience by artists and writers who were themselves engaged in similar explorations of new kinds of painting and sculpture, new genres like happenings, sound art, conceptual art and other kinds of cross-disciplinary and political activism
American culture industry made its first impact in Denmark in the 1950s. Its popular appeal was seen as a deplorable influence by the cultured classes, who tended to view American culture and art as an expression of a similar commercial spirit backed by aggressive marketing strategies and cold-war ideology. The initial clash between different cultural traditions was gradually transformed, however, as New York became the new capital of the art world from the second half of the 1960s, and artists, curators and art historians began to look towards the USA for theoretical and artistic inspiration. From a sceptical start as the commercial “other” of European art, American art has become dominant and art history as described from an Anglo-American point of view has become the standard history of the post-war development of art – even to the degree that many Danish art historians now tend to believe that new post-war art movements and tendencies were all imported from America.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Writing on US Art ca. 1945-1990
EditorsIain Boyd Whyte, Claudia Hopkins
Number of pages14
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Publication statusUnpublished - 2019

ID: 212507364