Art in the modern world

Centuries ago, everything was handmade: clothes, houses, wagons, bowls, plates. People worked with ceramic, glass, wood. When you make something by hand, you put a little artistry into it. You give it your signature. All the tradespeople were artists. Everyone had a creative outlet. When things are made by hand, that introduces imperfection. As anyone who looks at old glass panes can attest, imperfection — that is, texture variations — is beautiful. Those texture variations are what makes a surface interesting.

Then things started getting mass-produced. Only the designer of the product was an artist. Now consumers buy on amazon withoutseeing the product in person. When you can’t see the difference, the cheapest product wins. Let’s look at a few products:

Cars: In the 1940s, cars had a lot of style. Today style has been lost in cars, even the expensive cars. Car manufacturers don’t want to go wild. I’d say the last radical car design was the VW bug, an economy car.

Houses: Traveling in Vietnam, I noticed that houses had ornamental elements. It reminded me of Miami Art Deco. In new housing developments in the USA, there are five or so different designs are that’s it. Europe has a lot more apartment buildings. Cheap is still king, but there might be a few touches of style. Imagine what our world would look like if arquitects had 10 times the budget. 

Clothes: When everyone made  their own clothes, there was style. Now style means choosing and matching your bought clothes. A lot of clothing stores to choose from, so more artists at work. Jewelry is the one area where most items are handmade. 

If mass-production has done a job on art, is art still alive in the regions of the world where people don’t buy on Amazon? What about Africa?

Art inspires, art gives beauty in the built world.  Is there any way besides murals to create a more artistic neighborhood?