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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

1990s Art

The 1990s--the birth of GIF art, though the X-Men,
created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, date from the 1960s.
It seems hard to believe now, but the art of the 1990s goes back as much as 27 years ago. My, how time flies when you're having fun...or, as Kermit the Frog once said "Time's fun when you're having flies" Speaking of time, Kermit is now old enough for Social Security (62). For me, the 1990s were memorable in that it was the decade which brought us the home computer. We got our first one in 1995 (below). It was a Packard Bell Legend 814CD with a 100MHz Pentium Processor, 8MB, of memory, a 1.2GB 4x NEC CD-ROM Drive, and two Floppy Drives (5.25 disk and the "new" 3.5 disk). Notice, it did not contain a modem. Though the Internet had been around since 1969, dial-up access in the 1990s was both slow and expensive (CompuServe was five cents per minute). I think we paid about $700 for the computer, monitor, and accompanying software (about $1,100 today).

It was not very artist friendly.
Despite a whole bucket of bugs and numerous limitations, digital art began to take hold as the decade progressed. Computers grew friendlier and more powerful by leaps and bounds. Apple prodded Microsoft to forego MS-DOS in favor of Windows, which progressed from 3.1 to Windows 95, Windows 98, and finally, in 2000, Windows ME (Millennial Edition). Some of those operating systems are still in use today. With each new permutation came radical improvements in the capabilities for producing digital art, either from photos or from the "scratch" of the artist's imagination.

Fractal Art--beautiful, but the computer does all the work.
As might be expected, older artists turned technophobic while Millennials embraced the digital revolution. Nerds ruled, and their favored art was fractal, based upon mathematic algorithms ideal for even the relative low-power processors of the day (above). Among the artist who embraced fractal art were Desmond Paul Henry, Hamid Naderi Yeganeh and musician Bruno Degazio. Fractal art is not simply computerized art, lacking in rules, unpredictable, nor something that any person with access to a computer can do well. Instead, fractal art is expressive, creative, and requires input, effort, and intelligence.

Bob Ross, the mighty painter of friendly little trees retired in 1994 after a TV run of seven years.
The Bob Ross Dress
It would be false to relegate an entire decade of art to that which accompanied the advent of low-cost computers and their software. Although painting was starting to decline as a viable form of creative communication, its multi-media challengers, TV, motion pictures, and in its nascent form, digital art, were waiting in the wings. TV had its Bob Ross and Ben Alexander, both of whom retired in 1994. CGI-technology, made its debut in films such as Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump, Independence Day, and Titanic. Disney con-tributed the first totally computer animated feature length film, Toy Story in 1995. This they followed with such forgettable epics as Hercules, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and finally Fantasia 2000 (all of which lost money).

Plus dozens of sequels, prequels, and horror films
enough to fill (and sink) the Titanic.
I'm confident there must have been some, but in perusing hundreds of traditional paintings on canvas from the 1990s I didn't recognize a single one as being memorable. That means that few, if any, such work has left a lasting impression on the world of art. In a Postmodern world paintings on canvas are so, for lack of a better term, "modern." That's not to say that artists from other decades didn't continue to produce. They did, but their art had changed little, if at all, from that which the produced decades before which made them famous. So, inasmuch as my own work would seem to be as memorable as any other produced in the 1990s, I'm including Tantalizing (below) dating from 1998 as being representative of the painters art from that era.

Copyright, Jim Lane
Tantalizing, 1998, Jim Lane

The typical American family
of the 1990s.


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