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Is Art a Reflection of the Advancement of a Society?

Updated on February 5, 2020

In the age of global connectivity, and the greatest access to information humans have ever experience. Is today’s versions of art and the mediums we now create and share it on, still a true reflection of our society?

I first stumbled onto this topic a few years ago with a friend over lunch. As we both indulged ourselves in mindless banter to help the time go by. I argued from the position of, no it isn’t. Mostly for the “memes“ but now ironically enough, in the age of the Internet, that argument feels too relevant.


Art has been commonly presented as a useful way for researchers to analyze the sophistication of a given society. Really, the logic is grounded in a simple and concrete way.

Simply put, the more complex or diverse the art is.There is also, a strong indicator present that a certain level of stability in other sub-sections of the society will be present.

Mona Lisa Circa. 1503
Mona Lisa Circa. 1503
Leonardo Di Vinci, self portrait
Leonardo Di Vinci, self portrait

For example, in ancient Greece during the height of their influence. There was an interesting balancing act they struggled with, between building war ships or public works, such as theaters.

Their society was stable enough to provide the basic needs of the people; food, water, shelter, security etc... there was an excess of resources that allowed for them to then decide, where they would like to reallocate these extra, or remaining resource. Contributing to the growth of complex art and public works, within their society.

Circa. 5th century
Circa. 5th century
Sculpture of Nike of Samothrace  Circa. 190 bc
Sculpture of Nike of Samothrace Circa. 190 bc


With anonymity, misinformation, and the ever present proliferation of algorithm driven social media platforms and the content that is spread as a result of.

Are artists truly representing the society they live in, or are they representing a constructed society, that mostly exists in this fictional digital space?


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