The End of History


What happened to the big ideas of progress of the 19th and 20th centuries? — the visions of Utopia, and the classless society? The futurethat was envisioned is now the present, and it is both worse and, in many cases, far better than was imagined. The western world is at a political and economic plateau.  Have things reached their level?

Now that communism is almost gone and a kind of liberal-humanist-technological-capitalism is nearly universal, the “grand narratives” of Western Civilization are at an end. There is no “supreme” goal. We have arrived. History, understood as an expected, continual, forward progress, is over — to be superseded by multiculturalism, global economy, pleasure-seeking, cultism, technology.

 The world will continue, just as it always has, with its occasional wars, catastrophes, and so-called technological progress. Will we live off the planet, or in houses in the sky, like the Jetsons?  No, never, but neither will we be oppressed by a future like Orwell’s “1984”, with its prophecy of totalitarian evils. Computers put a certain power in everyone’s hands. Have computers made our lives better? In some ways, but also more complicated. And don’t even get me started on environmental damage control …

 The art world is freer and more pluralistic than ever. Anything goes. We are free of the manifestoes (“My art is ‘purer’ than your art”) and dominant European styles of the past hundred years. Art History is also at an end, when art history is understood as the steady progress to new ways of making art. Now we know that no method of making art is “better” than another. This philosophy of art is finally understood.

 Does this world feel any different? That’s what my paintings ask. Ultimately, the end of history is a good thing, a carnival atmosphere — a place where an artist can be anything he or she wants to be.

 And yet, something just doesn’t feel right …

Artist’s Statement – P. Illig. Pirate 2002

Conversion of Paul


About Peter Illig

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