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Art Movements of the Post WWI Years. 1919-1939. Raphaella W. DEF HGHS Chappaqua, NY. Essential Question: How were the emotions and actions of the aftermath of WWI expressed in the following art movements?. modernism. 1916 - 1940. Principles of Modernism.

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Art Movementsof

the PostWWI Years


Raphaella W. DEF

HGHS Chappaqua, NY

Essential Question:

How were the emotions and actions of the aftermath of WWI expressed in the following art movements?


1916 - 1940

Principles of Modernism

  • The expression of the Artist’s right to freedom of choice in subject and style.

  • Departure from literal representation – no longer needed with birth of photography.

  • “Art for Art’s sake”

  • Reject tradition and society.

Modernism by the critics
“Modernism” by the Critics

“ For the younger artists of France have completely thrown overboard the ideals of perfection and form, of grace and measure and tranquility, which we are accustomed to think as their most valuable possession.”

“…their (Dadaist’s) manifestos and tracts – with which it is proposed to ‘purge’ French art of its slavish subservience to rules.”

from “The Aesthetic Upheaval in France” by Edmund Wilson Jr., Vanity Fair February 1922

Modernism by the artists
“Modernism” by the Artists

“ Seven years ago, I tried to make a painting that would live by its own resources…At the present time I am doing research in art. My conclusions? I cannot explain my present researches until I myself have evolved out of them, that is to say, until I have gone further in my artistic evolution.”

Francis Picabia, quoted from “Francis Picabia and his Puzzling Art (an extremely modernized academician)”, from Vanity Fair November 1915

Art movements as part of modernism

Dadaism (1916 – 1924)

Bauhaus (1919 – 1933)

Art Deco (1920 – 1935)

Surrealism [early] (1920 - 1935)

Art movements as part of Modernism


1916 - 1924

Tristan Tzara – founder of Dadaism

“ Freedom : Dada Dada Dada, a roaring of tense colors, and interlacing of opposites and all contradictions, grotesques, inconsistencies: LIFE”

“Dada Manifesto” [1919]


  • Began in neutral Switzerland in WWI

  • Also big in Paris.

  • Reached its peak between 1916 – 1924

  • “Anti – Art”

  • A movement against rigidity of society and art, and the barbarity of war – the public didn’t deserve art after the war.

Tristan tzara
Tristan Tzara

  • Born in Romania in 1896.

  • Lived most of his life in Paris.

  • Wrote the first Dada text, La Premiere Aventure celeste de Monsieur Antipyrine in 1916.

  • Penned the movements manifestos, Sept manifestes Dada, in 1924.

  • Became an active member of the French Communist Party in later life.

Characteristics of Dada Art

  • Nonsensical drawings

  • Pastel and faded colors

  • Used collages and layers – to confuse the “unworthy beholder.”

  • “The beginnings of surrealism” – many Dada artists went on to become members of the Surrealist movement.

  • Subjects sometimes mundane, called art as irony. (e.g.– bicycle wheel, flyer.)

Important artists of the dada movement

Tristan Tzara (1896 – 1953)

Francis Picabia (1879 – 1953)

Kurt Schwitters (1887 – 1948)

Max Ernst (1891 – 1976)

Marcel Duchamp (1887 – 1958)

Important Artists of the Dada Movement

Francis Picabia

Machine Turn Quickly


Francis Picabia



Francis Picabia

Chapeau de Paille


Kurt Schwitters

The Cherry Picture


Kurt Schwitters

Merz 448 (Moscow)


Kurt Schwitters

Kleine Dada Soiree


Marcel Duchamp

Monte Carlo Bond


Marcel Duchamp

You Me (Tu-M)


Publications of the

Dada movement

  • Many publications within Dada Movement

  • Was not only an art movement, but included poetry and theatre.

  • First publication - Cabaret Voltaire

  • Followed by Dada in July 1917 - an art and literature review organized by Tristan Tzara.

  • Other publications included Le courre a Barbe, Der Dada, De Stijl, Proverbe, & Freie Straße

Example covers of DadaMagazine(1917 & 1920)

Example articles from De Stijl and Dada


1919 - 1933

Walter Gropius:Founder of Bauhaus

“The School will gradually turn into a workshop…

Art and Technology - a new unity.”


  • Began in 1919 with Bauhaus School in Weimar, Germany.

  • Lead by Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer, & Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe.

  • Wanted to create new art to reflect the new times they were living in after WWI.

  • Artist should be trained to work in the industry.

Walter gropius
Walter Gropius

  • Born in Berlin in 1883

  • Served as Sgt. Major in WWI.

  • In 1919 was employed as the new master of the Grand-Ducal Saxon School of Arts and Crafts in Weimar – became the Bauhaus School.

  • Fled Germany and the Nazi Party in 1934.

  • Died in Boston, MA in 1969.

Characteristics of Bauhaus

  • A lack of recognizable objects – wanted to find the true meaning of art through disassembling it.

  • Clean lines, geometric shapes layered.

  • In architecture: clean, functional.

  • Like Dadaism, was a step toward surrealism for artists such as Wassily Kandinsky.

  • Stylistic patterns altered as leaders of the school changed – earlier Bauhaus is different to later Bauhaus.

Important members of the Bauhaus school

  • Walter Gropius (1883-1969)

  • Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)

  • Josef Albers (1888-1976)

  • Herbert Bayer (1900 - 1985)

Wassily Kandinsky

Contrasting Sounds


Wassily Kandinsky

On White II


Wassily Kandinsky

Yellow Red Blue


Josef Albers

Figure (Glass, Colour and Light)


Herbert Bayer

Profil en Face


Herbert Bayer

Birthday Greetings to Xonti


art deco

1920 - 1935

Art Deco

  • Center: Paris.

  • Gained the title “Art Deco” from Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in 1925

  • A new kind of decorative and elegant art.

  • Reached its high point in the mid ’20s – mid 30’s.

  • Reaction to the forced austerity caused by WWI.

Characteristics of Art Deco

  • Geometric shapes

  • Although not the flowing swirls of Art Nouveau, had bolder curves and less “fussy” designs.

  • Bold colors, and new ways of shading pictures.

  • Idealistic images of the “flaming youth” of the “roaring twenties”.

  • Carried a theme through pieces, especially in interiors and architecture.

Exposition internationale des arts decoratifs et industriels modernes
Exposition Internationale des arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes

  • April – November 1925

  • Held in Paris

  • To show the world that France once again led the way in a new evolving international style – “Art Deco”.

  • Changed the perception of Bauhaus, Colonial Art and, predominantly, the Art Deco style as legitimate movements.

Important Art Deco Artists Modernes

  • Tamara de Lempicka(1898 – 1980)

  • “Erte” - Romain De Tirtoff(1892 – 1990)

  • William Van Allen (1883 – 1954)

  • “Cassandre” - Adolphe Mouron (1901 – 1968)

Tamara de Lempicka Modernes

Sleeping Girl


Tamara de Lempicka Modernes

Portrait of a Young Girl in a Green Dress


Tamara de Lempicka Modernes

Self Portrait in the Green Bugatti


Erte Modernes

Costume Design for “Les Pierres Precieuses”


Erte Modernes

Design for Lanternbearer in “Venise XVII”


Erte Modernes

L’Arc En Ciel

(Cover for “Harpers Bazaar”)


Cassandre Modernes

Cigarettes Celtique


Cassandre Modernes



Cassandre Modernes



early surrealism Modernes

1920 - 1935

Surrealism Modernes

Inspired by new psychology of two men:

Sigmund Freud & Carl Gustav Jung

Basic principles

Freud Modernes

Human development is best understood as changing objects of sexual desire

Wishes are repressed and emerge from the subconscious in “accidental” bursts – Freudian slips.

Neuroses are caused by repressed memories and unconscious conflicts.

ID, Ego and Super Ego.


Neuroses are caused by conflicts between individuals subconscious and greater world.

Sexual desire does not play as huge a role.

Must make a healthy relationship between the conscious and unconscious – shouldn’t be cut off from it, but shouldn’t be swamped by it.

Basic Principles

Surrealism Modernes

  • Divided into two groups based on different interpretations of Freud and Jung – the Automatists and the Veristic Surrealists.

  • Automatists - suppress conscious in order to free the subconscious, inspired by more “Dadaist” ideals, shouldn’t be overly analyzed.

  • Veristic Surrealists - follow the images of the subconscious so they can be interpreted; art is a way to freeze ideas of the subconscious.


Lead by Andre Brenton, a ModernesFrench doctor who had served in the trenches during WWI.

Subject matter was varied:

– some pieces show a complete dislocation from any sort of literal “reality” (for example, Max Ernst’s works)

-- other pieces show “normal” situations with a spark of absurdity (for example, Rene Magritte's works.)

Bright colors among sometimes dull backgrounds.


Max Ernst Modernes

Hydrometric Demonstration Of How To Kill By Temperature


Max Ernst Modernes



Max Ernst Modernes

The Elephant Celebs


Max Ernst Modernes

The Couple in Lace


Rene Magritte Modernes

The Menaced Assassin


Rene Magritte Modernes

Voice of Space


Rene Magritte Modernes

The False Mirror


Rene Magritte Modernes

The Lovers


Tristan Tzara Modernes - leader of Dada movement

“The beautiful and the true in art do not exist; what interests me is the intensity of a personality transposed directly, clearly into the work…and in what manner he knows how to gather sensation, emotion, into a lacework of words and sentiments.”

“Lecture on Dada” [1922]