Bedri Baykam’s Art History Map

13/05/2021 - 13/05/2021

Piramid Sanat

-I had first done a much shorter and schematic version of this map when I was teaching at the Bilkent University in 1993 in Ankara. When I started teaching last year at the Altınbaş University in İstanbul, I decided to do a much more detailed version for my students. That’s how it all started. The more I worked on it, the more things started to add, unavoidably. I have been asked often this year, “How long did this map take you to do?” The answer is “50 years of reading and travelling plus 6 months in full”, as Picasso said similarly. At the top part of the Art History Map, before Renaissance there are scattered reminders of all different cultures and civilizations that have left so many traces around the world in pastcenturies, such as Chinese art, Japanese art, Islamic Art, African Art, Oceanic Art, Incas Art etc.

-All past centuries and dates can be found both on the right and on the left side of the Map,
starting from the 13th century, until today.

-On the left side of the Map, you can find most of the important writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, scientists or statesmen of the Western World (like explorers, Jeanne d’Arc, Louis XVI, Danton, Napoléon, Darwin, Marx, Freud, World War II, Sartre, Kennedy, Steve Jobs) and on the right, the same equivalents from the non-Western World (for example Fatih the Conqueror, Cengiz Khan, Simon Bolivar, Dostoyevsky, Atatürk, Lenin, Mao, Tito, Yaşar Kemal, Gorbachev, Arab Spring, Gezi Protests etc.)

-In the central heart of the Map, you can find the relations and interactions and movements from Renaissance up to our times including the first two decades of the 21st century.

-Normally it’s more accustomed to see museums or historians or book publishers have in depth looks into Classical, Impressionist, Modern, Post-Modern and contemporary times, almost always separately. Thanks to this Map, it is now possible to perceive all movements and cross influences as a whole and make comparisons while establishing periodic relations, through the vertical reading and analysis of the Map. On top of that, now with a horizontal reading, it will be possible to decipher for each writer, philosopher politician or scientist, the key steps regarding which kind of world they lived in,what were they influenced by and what were the set of relations that contributed to their development in their times.

-Thus, the Map lets its viewer do vertical/timeline chronological readings that kind of turns into time traveling and also horizontal/geographical readings that make one grasp major things lived in different ends of the world, in almost all fields of life, with their effects, both ways. As far as how the potential readings go, let me give you couple examples. For instance when around 1830, the camera, “Daguerreotype” is born, art passed right away to a next step: It didn’t need anymore to do the documentation of the kings or the war scenes. That’s how come Impressionism could start with Renoir, Degas, Sisley, Morisot a.o. Or since then, till the twenties, thirties, Paris stood in the middle of the Map, dominated the scene. However, after that, towards the end of the 30s, enters Hitler who has modern art shown as degenerate art. Also artists run away to New York and USA goes to Europe for the war against Nazis. The result is the transfer of the art world from Paris to New York.

-On the left side of the Map, you find arrows in “hot” red lines that carry the viewer towards more classical, colorful, brushstroky, expressionist, storyteller, or Pop style works. On the right side of the Map, there is more conceptual, minimal works that starting from Cubism followed by Marcel Duchamp’s post-Cubist era, when through Ready-Mades we are carried towards movements like conceptual art, land art. These are the cold blue lines. Arte Povera or Biennale Art!

The arrows that take you towards those types of works are blue and represent the “cold” line. You also find in between “warm” movements like Gutai or Fluxus that are neither hot nor totally cold. Leading all those arrows, you have “freeways” of different movements. For instance the surrealist freeway, starts with Hieronymus Bosch in the 15th century, passes through the Central Dutch School and later Symbolism, Dadaism and ends up in Surrealism, with its “automatic writing” champion transit pioneer leader André Breton.
Among the hot red lines one can find the “Expressionist Highway”. Early Expressionism is known to be pioneered by Van Gogh, Gauguin and Munch. But before that you can go back to El Greco, Goya, Delacroix and pass through Symbolism to arrive to those three giant post-impressionist stars. The Expressionist highway then moves down to German Expressionism with its simultaneous French counterpart “Les Fauves”. The next step is American Abstract Expressionism again with its European counterpart of “art informal” and “tachisme”. Expressionist Highway’s last major stop on the Map is New-Expressionism in the 80s. Also the “Pop Freeway” that ends up in Pop Art and Andy Warhol, starts with the wave of the
legendary Japanese artist Hokusai, passes through the French Nabis and the Synthetic art of Vallotton or Sérusier, after a brief flirt with Art Nouveau, than comes to a main stop-over with the American major artist Stuart Davis before landing in hard core Pop Art of Warhol and Lichtenstein, with a final help by post-Abstract Expressionist artists such as Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns or Larry Rivers…

-In the last 25-30 years of the Map, artists are not anymore divided in typical historical art movements, but rather in different and sometimes parallel perception and presentation platforms in groups such as “Biennale Art”, “Art Fair Art”, “digital art”, “multimedia art” and“more happenings”. This last period is much more international and multi-cultural than the past ones.

Coming soon...
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