Cycles in Business and Culture

Photo by Lee Jiyong on Unsplash

I’m using a lot of art history associations in my posts about startups. To continue the idea from the previous post, the Joker’s journey is also the journey of a hero, only with a touch of decadence. His phrase, which can be taken as an epigraph to the whole movie, led me to think about the similarity of cycles in business and art.

The starting point is the Renaissance. Primordial soup. The fusion of antiquity and Christian values. And then it was a roller coaster ride:

- XVII Baroque = inspiration, emotion and progress

- XVII Classicism = structure, logic, and conservatism

- XVIII Rococo = inspiration, emotion and progress.

- XVIII Neoclassicism = structure, logic and conservatism.

- XIX Romanticism = inspiration, emotion, and progress

- XIX Realism = structure, logic, and conservatism

- XIX Symbolism (Impressionism and Post Impressionism, Art Nouveau) = inspiration, emotion, and progress

- XX Modernism = structure, logic, and conservatism

The simplest way to illustrate the similarity is to compare it to economic cycles. There is a phase of growth and positivity (inspiration, emotion, and progress), and a time of recession and bearishness (structure, logic, and conservatism).

Epochs in art and cycles in business have one important thing in common: the priorities of the elites and the rich. Where the money flows, development happens.

This is why I tend to think that business and art play on the same strings of the soul. A good product is one that gives people the opportunity to experience emotion with the right frequency, even if it’s a utilitarian object (in which case they neutralize negative emotions). Art also evokes people’ emotions.

I will say more, modern art is like blockchain startups now. Few, if any, understand it. Some even think they can do the same. Some of the new trends will eventually become mainstream, and people will think they’ve always loved and understood it. Impressionism caused scandals at some time, and cell phones or the Internet were good conspiracy theory donors.

Art cannot develop without financing, just as startups cannot exist without an investor. Business angels are philanthropists, big VCs are huge funds to support and develop the arts. If people just wanted to make money, there are more reliable and less emotional ways to do it. So I’m convinced that behind almost all businesses there’s an emotional demand that exceeds financial gain. For me, this motivation links the worlds of art and business.

All failed trends and projects will go into a future soil. Nothing goes anywhere. Nothing comes out of nowhere. And whether this is a tragedy or a comedy for you, it’s up for you to decide.

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