new art

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A term sometimes (but now rarely) used as a translation of Art Nouveau (in Brighton Rock, 1938, Graham Greene writes, ‘He touched a little buzzer, the New Art doors opened’) and sometimes used very vaguely to describe the latest trends in art. John A. Walker (Glossary of Art, Architecture and Design Since 1945, 1973, 3rd edn, 1992) writes that this ‘feeble expression’ is ‘generally employed when critics and exhibition organisers are at a total loss for a name’. He cites as examples of its use an anthology of essays entitled The New Art (1966), edited by Gregory Battcock, and an exhibition of the same title at the Hayward Gallery, London, in 1972. The accuracy of Walker's well-aimed barb was confirmed when the expression was again used as the title of an eclectic anthology of contemporary art at the Tate Gallery in 1983. The director, Sir Alan Bowness, wrote that with the turn of the decade ‘new artists and new art movements suddenly appeared on the scene’. Then, neatly negotiating the point that some of the artists in the exhibition had been prominent in the art world for many years, he added that ‘The work of some older artists took on a new relevance’.

Subjects: Art.

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