THE CONVERGENCE OF THE ARTS IN THE 21ST CENTURY
The convergence of the arts may be the most striking aspect of art in the late 20th and early 21st century. Today, artists, almost as a rule, combine their many talents in hybridizing permutations: music is combined with sculpture, architecture with performance art, photography with painting and video with installation. At the same time, art in modernity has been marked by a strong tendency toward autonomy: just as the realm of art as such has tended to assert its separation from the rest of society, so the various arts have tended to assert their distinction from one another. In this seminar, we develop the background in art history to understand the significance of the ‘convergence of the arts’ and explore this central dynamic of the arts of our time, considering how the imperative toward what Clement Greenberg called “self-definition with a vengeance” came to take hold, and how the counter tendency toward the mixing of the arts has been shaped and shadowed by the drive toward artistic autonomy. This dynamic seems to be central to essential forces of invention and disintegration in contemporary art.