The Year in Arts

Facing reality with imagination

What with earthquakes, volcanoes, and oil leaks, 2010 had almost enough disasters to make The Day After Tomorrow seem closer to everyday life. The arts and entertainment world chose to confront these events with creations of both truth and fantastical fairy tale, dark or otherwise. Perhaps the fact that a Picasso painting sold for 106.5 million dollars illustrates this strange but successful marriage between substance and imagination.

In the music scene, Lady Gaga’s shock factor seemed to focus on food, from wearing a meat dress at the VMAs or making poison sandwiches with Beyonce in “Telephone.” Katy Perry’s bubblegum-colored pop world had to make room for Ke$ha and her not-so-chic “garbage chic” look. But while the fashion styles of the two are impossible to mix up, some of their tunes sound suspiciously similar. More refreshing was the doo-wopping entrance of Bruno Mars. (Would you rather wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy or be told that you’re amazing just the way you are?) And as for the success of younger musicians, Willow Smith joined Justin Bieber in the ranks of minors wowing (or irritating) listeners. Perhaps “unique” can only truly characterize a few artists in the 2010 pop scene, but audiences find escape and sensation just as satisfactory.

The film industry continued to churn out the usual big-budget blockbusters like Clash of the Titans alongside brutally honest films like Blue Valentine. Highest-grossing films for 2010 included the highly anticipated Toy Story 3, Iron Man 2, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I. Alice in Wonderland featured yet another wacky collaboration between Tim Burton and costume designer Colleen Atwood. Inception blew audiences’ minds with its city-folding dream sequences, and How to Train Your Dragon provided plenty of edge-of-seat and “aww” moments for children and adults alike. The Social Network quickly earned its reputation as the movie of our generation. Even gritty reality can be somehow glorifying.

In 2010, the fashion world first mourned the death of Alexander McQueen, and then saw the revival of his fashion label under Sarah Burton. Most recent, but less flamboyant, were the attempts of fast fashion stores H&M and Gap to couture up their merchandise through respective deals with Lanvin and Valentino. Somehow ruffled military-inspired garb at two hundred-something dollars fits in with this theme of disturbing, and at times disastrous, illusion. The 2000s, filled with increasingly fierce trends and outlandish artistic expression, have paved the way for a new decade whose firm grip on fantasy is surprisingly candid.