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Modernism. Historical Context. World War I– The Great War: Technology of destruction Communism—Stalin’s industrialization of the Soviet Union: 20 million dead Social realism in the arts

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Historical context
Historical Context

  • World War I– The Great War: Technology of destruction

  • Communism—Stalin’s industrialization of the Soviet Union: 20 million dead

    Social realism in the arts

  • Fascism-Nationalism and racism: Hitler’s institutionalization of genocideRadio and film used for propaganda

Mass media in the u s
Mass Media in the U.S.

  • Documentary arts:

    Commercial film

    Radio programs




  • Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

  • Quantum mechanics


  • Mastered traditional techniques“blue period”“rose period”

  • Abandoned Renaissance tradition: new rules

  • Les Demoiselles D’Avignon

Influences on picasso
Influences on Picasso

  • Cézanne’s Bathers

  • African and Polynesian masks

  • Primitivism


  • Revolutionary departure from representational art. The area around painted objects became part of the abstract geometric forms.

  • Presented the object from many angles simultaneously.

  • Georges Braque

Stages of cubism
Stages of Cubism

  • Analytical phase: browns and grays. Colors should not distract from lines and planes

  • Synthetic phase: collage


  • Pure line, shape and color: non-objective

  • Sculpture: Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space Brancusi’s Bird in Space

  • Painting: Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie

Anti art

  • Dada: rejection of reason and order in art

  • Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades: sculpture, urinal

  • Later influenced performance art, pop art


  • Henri Matisse: fauvism

  • The Blue Window, Issy-les-Moulineaux

  • German Expressionism: Die Brücke

  • Emil Nolde’s Dance Around the Golden Calf

  • Der Blaue Reiter

  • Wassily Kandinsky’s Improvisation 28 (Second Version)

  • Paul Klee’s All Around the Fish


  • The Interpretation of Dreams influenced the humanities of the Twentieth Century

  • Psychoanalysis: freeing unconscious desires repressed by parental and societal taboos

  • Georgio de Chirico’s The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street


  • André Breton: automatism

  • Surrealist painters sought to release the images of the subconscious

  • Joan Miró’s The Birth of the World

  • Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory

Modernism in literature
Modernism in Literature

  • Poets discarded meter and rhyme: vers libre

  • Prose: Virginia Woolf’s interior monologues or stream of consciousness reveal the characters’ inner thoughts.

  • Mrs. Dalloway: A single day

  • James Joyce’s Ulysses: A single day

Modernist literature
Modernist Literature

  • T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land

  • New hero: ironic, frustrating, disappointing, self-doubting, anxious.

  • Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis

  • Character becomes a giant insect

Music stravinsky

  • Le Sacré du Printemps shocked the music world

  • Russian folk tradition

  • Diaghilev: artistic director

  • Nijinsky: dancer-choreographer

  • Stravinsky’s music introduced multiple meters, or polyrhythm, and multiple simultaneous keys or polytonality

  • Creates disturbing dissonance

Music schoenberg

  • Rejected the classical tradition of orchestral music

  • Atonal music: not composed in a key: expressionistic

  • Pierrot Lunaire

  • Twelve-tone method: not popular with audiences

Modernist architecture
Modernist Architecture

  • Bauhaus School (German) Walter Gropius: Clean, functional design

  • Le Corbusier (French) functional glass and metal designs

  • Art deco: sleek, simple shapes with decorative forms, like the “gargoyles” of the Chrysler Building

Bertolt brecht
Bertolt Brecht

  • Epic theater

  • The Threepenny Opera

  • The disparity between the ruling class in Germany and the working classes

Political paintings
Political Paintings

  • Orozco, Siqueiros and Rivera: murals on public buildings in Mexico

  • Rivera’s The Enslavement of the Indians: criticism of Spain’s oppression of the indigenous people

  • Kahlo’s The Broken Column

  • Picasso’s Guernica: decimation of the town of Guernica by German bombs during Spanish Civil War


  • D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation

  • Silent film: Charlie Chaplin

  • Soviet film: Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin

  • Montage technique: “Odessa Steps”

  • Leni Riefenstahl’s The Triumph of the Will, Nazi propaganda

The u s a n y
The U.S.A./ N.Y.

  • Photography: Alfred Stieglitz

  • Painter: Georgia O’Keeffe

  • The Harlem Renaissance:Countee CullenLangston HughesZora Neale Hurston

U s a other artists
U.S.A/Other Artists

  • Edward Hopper Nighthawks

  • Willa Cather

  • William Faulkner: Absalom, Absalom!

American dance
American Dance

  • Modern Dance: freedom from classical ballet Isadora Duncan

  • Modern Ballet: classical training/freer expressionGeorge BallanchineMartha Graham

American music
American Music

  • Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring

  • Charles Ives’ Three Pieces in New England


  • Frank Lloyd Wright: incorporate nature

  • “Fallingwater”


  • Improvised melodies, “swing” rhythm

  • African-American origins

  • George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Rhapsody in Blue: concert music

  • Large dance bands

  • Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie “Bird” Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis