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Modernism. 1900 -1930. Definition of Modernism. Rather than an artistic style, modernism was a rebellious state of mind that questioned all artistic, scientific, social, and moral conventions. Characteristics: Challenging Conventions. by embracing nihilism

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Modernism

1900 -1930

definition of modernism

Definition of Modernism

Rather than an artistic style, modernism was a rebellious state of mind that questioned all artistic, scientific, social, and moral conventions.

characteristics challenging conventions
Characteristics: Challenging Conventions
  • by embracing nihilism
  • by rejecting every system of belief
  • by believing in the autonomy of each individual work of art
  • by adopting primitivism
  • by exploring perversity
  • by focusing on the city rather than nature
nihilism the belief in nothing
Nihilism: The Belief in Nothing
  • Modernists viewed the world, and especially human existence, as being meaningless.
  • Modernists rejected the belief that morality and organized religion provided the means for social evolution and/or the betterment of man.
rejection of all systems of belief
Rejection of all Systems of Belief
  • Modernists questioned all accepted systems:
    • the sciences
    • political/social/economic paradigms
    • the arts, especially the Academy
self sufficiency of a work of art
Self-sufficiency of a Work of Art
  • Art was not to be judged on the old standard of mimesis, the idealized representation of reality.
  • Art needed to be judged on an individual basis.
  • Art should be judged on the basis of how well an artist is able to communicate the purpose of the work as well as the relationship between meaning and form.
modernists rebelled against the dictates of the academy
Modernists Rebelled Against the Dictates of the Academy
  • Each country had its Academy, an institution that judged what was proper and what was not in the depiction of reality.
  • The Academy saw its task as the education of artists in the practice of an idealizing art in the classical (or classicizing) tradition.
  • The Academy was a school as well as a regulatory body.

William-Adolph Bouguereau.

Dawn (1875). Oil on canvas.

what was acceptable
What Was Acceptable?
  • Goal of the artist was to achieve perfection through the following:
    • a highly polished style
    • use of historical or mythological subject matter
    • a moralistic tone

Gustav Klimt. Idylle (1884). Oil on canvas.

what was not acceptable
What was not acceptable . . .

Eduoard Manet. Olympia (1863). Oil on canvas

the modernist artist
The Modernist Artist
  • Systematically and deliberately developed an art that testifies to all that is strange, unknown, and unlabeled in the self
  • Created a new language of images that described the inexpressible
  • Expected the viewer/reader to interact with the work

Pablo Picasso. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

(1907). Oil on canvas.

primitivism
Primitivism
  • Modernists rejected technology and the rigidity of society and its institutions.
  • Modernists embraced the natural primal roots of primitive man.
  • Modernists embodied the pursuit of personal and artistic freedom.

Pablo Picasso. TheDryad (1908). Oil on canvas.

perversity
Perversity
  • Modernists explored the uncivilized nature of man.
  • Modernists suggested that being “civilized” was merely a veneer that quickly vanishes.

Emile Nolde. SaintMary of Egypt :

Among Sinners (1912). Oil on canvas.

focus on the city
Focus on the City
  • Modernists shifted away from nature.
  • Modernists explored the city as a place of lonely crowds and marginalized individuals.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Street in Dresden

(1907). Oil on canvas.

forces that shaped modernism
Forces that Shaped Modernism
  • Technology and the new science
  • The new philosophical paradigms

F.H. Bradley

Alfred Whitehead

Albert Einstein

  • The new psychological paradigms

Sigmund Freud

Carl Jung

Henri Bergson

  • The new geo-political paradigms
technology and the new sciences
Technology and the New Sciences
  • Generated optimism
  • Created dynamic industrial and urban growth
  • Accelerated the way life is experienced
  • Shrank distances through new communication and transportation systems

Switchboard operators

the modernist philosophical paradigms

The Modernist Philosophical Paradigms

The New Perception of External Reality

relativity space time and light
Relativity: Space, Time and Light
  • Modernists were independent skeptics:
    • questioned every premise
    • challenged conventional wisdom
    • never accepted the truth of something at face value.
  • Modernists undermined the foundations of all human thought.
relativity space time and light1
Relativity: Space, Time and Light
  • Modern thinkers broke with the belief in classical mechanics and absolute certainties.
    • Newton had described a very comprehensible mechanical universe: a falling apple and an orbiting moon were governed by the same rules of gravity, mass, force and motion.
    • In theory, everything could be explained and predicted: causes produced effects and forces acted upon objects.
relativity space time and light2
Relativity: Space, Time and Light

Some phenomena of optics, electromagnetism and sub-atomic particles could not be explained using Newtonian physics.

Questions regarding the nature of force, speed of light, mind, and so on could not be answered through simple explanations.

relativity space time and light3
Relativity: Space, Time and Light
  • Modernists began to redefine the nature of reality.
  • New definitions of reality were now observer-based and relative:
    • Observers in different states of motion will measure things differently.
    • There is no designated frame of reference that takes preference over any other.
f h bradley appearance and reality
F. H. Bradley: Appearance and Reality
  • Reality is not absolute.
  • An object’s appearance varies depending on from what angle it is being viewed.
  • To really understand an object, one has to view it from several points of view.
alfred whitehead process and reality
Alfred Whitehead: Process and Reality
  • Reality is not static but in a state of flux, always in the process of becoming.
  • No object exists in a vacuum—rather “there is no element whatever which possesses this character of simple location.”
  • Each object is relevant to its surroundings in that it is in the process of becoming another object.
  • Matter, space, and time are all interrelated.

Alfred Whitehead (1861-1947)

albert einstein the special theory of relativity
Albert Einstein: TheSpecial Theory of Relativity
  • Space and time are relative; only the speed of light is constant.
  • There is no such thing as a favored point of view.
  • Color is relative.
  • A universal present moment does not exist.

Clocks positioned farther away from the

mass of the earth run faster than clocks

closer to the earth.

albert einstein the special theory of relativity1
Albert Einstein: TheSpecial Theory of Relativity
  • Only “local” time exists.
  • Moving clocks run slower than stationary clocks.
  • Two perfectly synchronized clocks would differ according to their relative speeds.

Clocks positioned farther away from the

mass of the earth run faster than clocks

closer to the earth.

albert einstein the special theory of relativity2
Albert Einstein: TheSpecial Theory of Relativity
  • Time slows as one approaches the speed of light.
  • The present moment expands from a narrow sliver until it encompasses both the past and the future.
  • At light speed, time ceases to change because it contains all change.
albert einstein the special theory of relativity speed dilates time
Albert Einstein: TheSpecial Theory of Relativity—Speed Dilates Time

A train moving away from a clock tower

at the speed of light. After a minute passes, the observer on the train notes that the time on the clock remains 12:00

o’clock.

A train moving away from a clock tower

at 5 mph. After a minute passes, the

observer on the train notes that the time

on the clock is 12:01.

albert einstein the special theory of relativity3
Albert Einstein: TheSpecial Theory of Relativity

View of a house from a train

traveling past it at 5 mph

View of a house from a train

traveling past it at 93,000 miles

per second

albert einstein the special theory of relativity4
Albert Einstein: TheSpecial Theory of Relativity
  • Creates the illusion that perspective has flattened
  • Space between objects is truncated
  • Figures begin to look two-dimensional

Traveling at the speed of light:

An infinitely thin slice of compressed

countryside as seen from the side windows

of a train traveling past it at the speed of light

einstein tower
Einstein Tower
  • Built from 1919-1921
  • Designed by Erich Mendelssohn
  • Created to support experiments and observations to validate Einstein’s theories of relativity
  • Located in Potsdam, Germany
the modernist psychological paradigms

The Modernist Psychological Paradigms

The New Perception of Internal Reality

sigmund freud
Sigmund Freud
  • Expanded the definition of sexuality
  • Defined the major components of personality
  • Created a dynamic psychology based on the interaction of the id, the ego, and the superego
  • Defined the importance of the unconscious
  • Created psychoanalysis, a science that uncovers the personality’s secrets

Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939)

carl jung
Carl Jung
  • Based psychology on the collective unconscious, the inherited memories of the human race
  • Developed archetypes, symbolic representations of basic thought patterns of human behavior:

– without known origin

– are dynamic factors that manifest themselves as impulses

– reproduce themselves in any time or any part of the world

  • Explained how archetypes are expressed in fairy tales, myths, and artistic endeavors

Carl Jung (1875-1961)

henri bergson
Henri Bergson
  • Defined human experience through duration, psychological time consisting of the constant flow from the past into the future rather than a succession of chronological instants
  • Believed that reality is a past that constantly becomes something new
  • Held that intuition is the most trustworthy guide to understanding

Henri Bergson (1859 – 1941)

the modernist geo political paradigms

The Modernist Geo-political Paradigms

The New Perception of Political and Economic Realities

the new global economy
The New Global Economy
  • Industrialization
    • Social and psychological fragmentation
    • Alienation
    • Class warfare
  • Economic interdependence
    • Colonialism
    • Cultural cross-fertilization
  • Nationalism
    • War