Do we live in a global art world?

Did you know that last year the Louvre was recorded as the most visited museum in the world? Did you know that five museums/galleries in the UK made it into the top twenty? Would you have guessed that the entire list was made up of museums and galleries in first world, fully developed countries?

Do we live in a global art world?

The fact of the matter is, although there are many very well-known museums across the world, they are all situated in developed countries that have a strong history or a vast cultural background, such as the USA, UK and many other countries in Europe. How interesting would it be to visit a museum exhibition on, for example, rural African folk art, in a museum in Africa rather than the UK?

Whilst in Washington DC last month, I saw a beautiful exhibition in one of the Smithsonian museums called 'Into Africa', which featured stunning photos of life in its most rural countries. How many of those living in Africa would have seen exhibitions such as this? Is it likely that most of the inhabitants of the poorer countries in question may never have seen their surroundings in the way we do? Should we be making an effort to extend this to them?

Another country that comes up frequently on lists regarding leading creative countries or best cities for artistic inspiration, is Russia. St Petersburg in particular is absolutely stunning, the architecture unparalleled to any other I have seen. In my opinion it even rivals that of Vatican City, which is known for its art and architecture. There are few cities I have been to that have such distinctive architecture as St Petersburg, but each city (Prague, Vatican City, Budapest, Barcelona, Paris etc.) has a distinctive and beautiful style that most likely stems from a rich and interesting history of a technologically advanced country.

Personally, I would love to visit a developing country and learn all about its art and history through exhibitions, images or films, but I know this is not always possible. Life in developing countries is so different to ours, and attempting to achieve a 'global art world' in the way that we see it, may be difficult. For us, art is architecture, images, films, paintings and drawings, but in a country with less technology than we have, this may not be the case.

And so, although we have access to art from all over the world, this doesn't necessarily mean that we live in a global art world. For us in the UK, it isn't rare to see art by artists from hundreds of years ago, or from the present day, or to see images capturing nature from all far corners of the Earth. However, for those in undeveloped or developing countries where there is little or no access to the technology we so often take for granted, it is unlikely that these people would ever have seen Van Gogh's Sunflowers, visited the Louvre or appreciated the architecture of the 15th – 17th centuries.

So whilst we have access to almost anything as and when we want it, we cannot say that art is truly global until everyone has the same privilege.


Jo Nead

Jo Nead Contributor

I am a Hertfordshire based RADA graduate working in Stage Management. I like to knit, cook and travel and I can always be found in or talking about a theatre!

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