Walter Benjamin claims that though the masses now have access to High Art (thank you Google Images!), the fact that they don't appreciate that Art, leads to the conclusion that the Egalitarian Dream is dead.
1. High Art was once only available to the elite.
2. The elite enjoyed High Art, and the masses felt slighted.
3. With the advent of the Internet, High Art all of sudden became available to the masses, but the masses rejected it!
4. The caviar wasn't as delicious as it looked, so to say. (Berger gives evidence to support this in "Ways of Seeing").
5. So, because the masses no longer really care to enjoy High Art, the democratic dream of art for all is no more.
But I say, let us not give up so easily! Let us instead teach the masses the tools necessary for appreciation. Aesthetic appreciation is a skill, like any other, that must be honed. You can give someone the best wood, nails and paint in the world, but without the proper tools and knowledge, that wood, nails and paint will never become a house. Similarly, you can throw the world's greatest art objects onto anyone's computer screen, but without an understanding of what exactly needs to be appreciated, the person in front of that computer screen will doubtlessly be turned off.
And, I say, to all us educators, it is up to us to teach this sense of appreciation! Such responsibility can no longer fall into the hands of art and music teachers alone, if for no other reason than that the current recession is forcing those teachers out of our schools.
Much like how, several years ago, the focus of English Education switched from teaching students to analyze classic novels to teaching students to love reading, we must all set about to instill our curriculum with some sense of "love" for art. Of course, this may be easier for liberal arts courses like English and History, but as we have seen at the Medical Lab, biological images have an aesthetic quality too! Even Mathematics, with that beautiful golden ratio which presents itself everywhere in nature, can become an opportunity to impart a little culture to our classes.
And what happens if we don't help create an appreciation for High Art in our students? Well, then they resort to this as their only interaction with art.