Login
Copyright

Art & Culture Since 1945: Types & Artists

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Analyzing & Examining the Causes of War in Western Civilization: Essay Prompts

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Post-WII Culture
  • 0:35 Television
  • 3:00 Music
  • 5:06 Art
  • 6:53 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we explore the art and culture of post-World War II Western society, from the fledgling television programming to the disparate directions of 20th-century art.

Post-WWII Culture

From the time of the Renaissance, popular art and culture have always been reflective of the values, concerns, and goals of a society. Western culture in the 20th century was no different. However, instead of merely having the century's artwork and sculptures to contemplate, numerous entertainment media proliferated during the century, from television to pop music, which shows us what was important to the artists and to society itself. This lesson will detail several of the important movements and trends of post-World War II Western culture.

Television

Perhaps the post-war medium which we are most familiar with today is the television. Believe it or not, even though nearly every household has at least one television today, prior to World War II (WWII) televisions were a novelty and the programming options were few and far between. After WWII, the television exploded in popularity and new networks gained traction on the airwaves. Viewers could now see live events from the comfort of their own homes.

Remember, they previously would have had to listen to them described on the radio. Many of Western culture's most popular radio shows were converted and filmed for television, including one of the most successful programs of all time, The Lone Ranger. By the end of the WWII, several of the major networks, namely NBC and CBS, were setting up affiliate broadcasting stations in major metropolitan areas like New York and Washington D.C.

Cable television, which today brings subscribers thousands of different programs on hundreds of different channels, was first pioneered in Pennsylvania in the late 1940s. Innovations, such as devices which boosted the signal over long-distance cable lines, allowed cable to spread quickly in the 1950s, and by 1962, nearly 800 cable systems across the United States were bringing cable television to approximately 850,000 homes.

In order to fill all these new systems with programming, television programs, like sitcoms and evening dramas, were produced at an incredible speed. These early shows, like The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch often functioned within and reinforced the moral codes of the day and rarely strayed into contentious territory.

As cable television expanded and pay television services like HBO were born in the 1970s and 1980s, programming slowly became racier and the strict codes governing on-screen violence, sexuality, and language slightly relaxed, mimicking the same relaxation of traditional social codes in everyday life. This widening of programming scope expanded in the 1980s and 1990s, when government deregulation fostered the proliferation of cable stations and similar cable programming. Today, television is again looking to expand, but this time into other 21st-century media, such as Internet and on-demand services.

Music

Popular music is likely as old as human civilization itself, but only in the post-WWII West was the spread of single tracks or entire albums of music possible due to the vinyl record. First pioneered in the 1930s, the vinyl record exploded in popularity in the 1950s. Prior to the vinyl record, live shows or expensive and poor-quality gramophone records were the only way to experience music. With the advent of the record, bands, orchestras, and individual singers could record their best versions of their most popular songs in a studio and record it on a record to be reproduced and sold to the mass market.

This allowed music to be enjoyed in the home as well as in the music hall, and a corresponding proliferation of music styles, bands, and genres occurred alongside the growth in the record's popularity. Rock music arguably began with popular bands and singers, like Elvis, Buddy Holly, and The Beatles, who utilized new instruments like the electric guitar and broke many of the conventions of pre-war popular music, which before WWII had largely been focused on big band, orchestral arrangements.

With wider access to music available, rock, along with a multitude of sub-genres and competing genres, flourished in the second half of the 20th century. From the disco of the 1970s to the burgeoning hip-hop genre of the late 1980s and early 1990s, it's unlikely many of these types of music would have gained the nationwide popularity they had without the dissemination of music through the record or its descendant, the compact disc, or CD.

The CD's arrival on the music scene in the late 1980s made studio quality music available to the average person in a much smaller format that could be carried in their hand. The CD's creation also heralded the end of sound recording on magnetic cassette tape, a format which had been popular throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Additionally, the CD stored music digitally, allowing the music on the disc to be read by a computer. This digital storage of music made later devices, like the MP3 player, possible.

Art

In art, the changes of the second half of the 20th century were less about medium and more about style. The tumultuous first half of the century, with two major wars which killed tens of millions worldwide, had a major impact upon the art created after the conclusion of WWII. Immediately after WWII, some artists felt conventional images and painting could not correctly convey the true meaning and feeling behind their art.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support