Art and Architecture, Film and Media, History, Reviews

Art on TV

The latest issue of ArtForum magazine contains an interesting review of Lynn Spigel’s new book, TV by Design: Modern Art and the Rise of Network Television. The review, which builds upon the positive assessment given by Andy Battaglia in his recent article for the magazine’s sister publication BookForum, praises the work for “contradicting our peculiar amnesia” regarding TV’s early links to the urbane world of modern art.
As Spigel aptly demonstrates, from the 1940’s through the ’60s TV served as an exciting new platform for the arts, inviting the participation of architects and designers like and Eero Saarinen and Saul Bass, to fine artists like Andy Warhol. Offering a stark contradiction to former FCC chairman Newton Minow’s characterization of the medium as a “vast wasteland,” Spigel’s account even suggests that their work actually profited from their relationship with the “vulgar medium.”
As ArtForum‘s Matthew Brannon writes, “since advertisers take it for granted that their job is to sell, they are denied that most dangerously available solipsistic avenue that fine art borders: I don’t care what you think.…” Thus Brannon concludes that advertising offered these artists a lesson in visual communication: “how to say much with little [and] how to persuade someone without insulting them. I’m as interested in tact as I am in taste.”
Pick up a copy of ArtForum to read the rest of Brannon’s review, or read an excerpt from the book.