No one country or geographical area has ever maintained a monopoly on the development of art. Down through the ages, the "art capital" of the western world has moved about the Mediterranean basin with considerable frequency. We are all aware that some of the earliest painted surfaces were in the numerous limestone caves in the south of France some 20,000 years ago. When we next find a highly developed artistic culture it has jumped to the opposite end of the Mediterranean to the Nile Valley and attached itself to manmade limestone walls where it glowed for a more than a thousand years. From there it used the Islands of Cyprus and Crete briefly as stepping stones to Greece and the Ionian Sea shores. There it bloomed for another thousand years or more. From Greece it moved westward to the Italian peninsula, Rome, and the far-flung provinces governed from that great city. The art capital of the western world remained in Rome for nearly five hundred more years before moving back to the Western Mediterranean and the Byzantine regions during what we've come to somewhat inaccurately refer to as the "dark ages."
|A map of the western art world for some 20,000 years|
They came to America. It wasn't an easy decision. The "Yanks" were a rowdy bunch, unsophisticated, and just plain backward when it came to viewing the avant-garde artistic experiments these poor lost souls brought with them in their steamer trunks and, more importantly, stowed safely in the backs of their minds. Living and working in America, especially in an era when even the natives themselves were having a rough time of it, took a great deal of perseverance, ingenuity, and good luck as they watched from a safe distance their former civilization self-destruct. Yet, by the time the bloodbath in Europe was over, they found themselves in a position to proclaim a NEW art capital of the western world, that was literally in the Western World--New York City, New York, USA.