Introduction • “Beauty must be convulsive or cease to be,” said Surrealist spokesman André Breton • Art concerned itself less with exterior visual reality and more with interior vision • The artist paints “not what you see, but what you know there is” (P. Picasso) • The sharpest break with the past in the whole evolution of Western art • Twentieth-century art liberated form (Cubism) from traditional rules and freed color (Fauvism) from accurately representing an object. • Modern artists defied convention with a vengeance, heeding Gauguin’s demand for “a breaking of all the old windows, even if we cut our fingers on the glass”
The core of this philosophy (modernism) was a relentless quest for radical freedom of expression • The artist stressed private concerns, experiences and imagination as the sole source of art • During the first half of the century, the School of Paris reigned supreme (Fauvism, Cubism and Surrealism) • In the 50s – the New York School of Abstract Expressionism (Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning – “busted our idea of a picture all to hell”)
Fauvism (1904-1908) • The first major avant-garde art movement • Fauvists (Matisse, Vlaminck, Derain, Dufy, Braque and Rouault) changed the way we look at the world: they were extremely creative with the use of color in unexpected way • Public response to their art was hostile: fauves = wild beasts; • “raving madness”, ‘a universe of ugliness”, “the naïve and brutal efforts of a child playing with a paint-box” • Main influences: post-impressionists (Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne) and non-European tribal arts (Derain, Vlaminck and Matisse collected African masks)
Hallmarks of Fauvism (1904-1908) • Short-lived: “You can’t remain forever in a state of paroxysm” (Braque) • Intense, bright, clashing colors • Distorted forms and perspective • Vigorous brushstrokes • Flat, linear patterns • Bare canvas as part of overall design
Twin titans of the 20th century Chromatic revolution Matisse, “The Green Stripe (Mme Matisse),” 1905 Revolt against realism – form (Cubism) Picasso, ”The Blindman’s Meal,” 1903
Cubism (1908-1914) • The four “true” cubists: Picasso, Braque, Gris, Léger • “Art consists of inventing and not copying” (Léger) • Analytical Cubism analyzed the form of objects by shattering them into fragments spread out on the canvas • Synthetic Cubism dismantled the form only to reassemble, or “synthesize”, its essential structural lines/elements
Which is which? Picasso, “Portrait of AmbroiseVollard,” 1910 Picasso, “The Studio,” 1928
Picasso, a documetary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCTg41oalhU (part 1 – approx. 9.5 minutes; part 2 – 10 minutes)
Symbolism is the practice of representing things by symbols, or of investing things with a symbolic meaning or character. A symbol is an object, action, or idea that represents something other than itself, often of a more abstract nature. Symbolism creates quality aspects that make literature like poetry and novels more meaningful.
The Kiss by Gustav Klimt (1907-1908, oil on canvas, applied layers of gold leaf, Vienna)
Modernism outside of France • Futurism (Italy) • Constructivism (Russia) • Precisionism (United States)
Futurism (Italy, 1909-1918) Features Artists • Lines of force representing movement and modern life Boccioni, Balla, Severini, Russolo
Constructivism (Russia, 1913-1932) Features Artists Geometric art reflecting modern technology Tatlin, Malevich, Popova, Rodchenko, Lissitzky, Gabo, Pevsner
Tatlin, “Model for the Monument for the 3rd International,” 1920
Precisionism, the USA, 1915-1930 Features Artists sleek urban and industrial forms Sheeler, Demuth, O’Keeffe
Expressionism: The Fine Art of Feeling (1905-1930) • Distorted and exaggerated forms and colors for emotional impact • Two famous German schools: Die Brücke(believed their art work will be a bridge to the future; disintegrated in 1913) and DerBlaue Reiter (pure abstraction; disintegrated in 1914)
Die Brücke Kirchner, “Berlin Street Scene,” 1913 Kollwitz, “Infant Mortality,” 1925
DerBlaue Reiter Kandinsky, “Improvisation 31 (Sea Battle), “ 1913 Klee, “Blue Night,” 1937
Vassily Kandinsky, Improvisation No. 30, 1913. Oil on canvas, Art institute of Chicago
Dutch Expressionism (1917-1931) • Tried to eliminate emotion from art • Advocated a severe art of pure geometry (De Stijl, “The Style”) • During the chaos of WWI, Mondrian (1872-1944) concluded that “nature is a damned wretched affair” • Mondrian decided to jettison “natural”, messy art for a new style called Neo-Plasticism, whose goal was to create a precise, mechanical order lacking in the natural world.
Branching out: progressive simplification of natural form Mondrian, “Gray Tree,” 1912 Mondrian, “Flowering Apple Tree,” 1912
Expressionism , a documentary : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD5G9ZJFS9A (10.01 minutes)
Dada (1916-1922) • Founded in neutral Zurich in 1916 by a group of refugees from WWI, the Dada movement got its name from a nonsense word • It protested the madness of war. • Dadaist artists felt they could no longer trust reason and the establishment. • Their alternative was to overthrow all authority and cultivate absurdity. • Dada was an international attitude that spread from Zurich to France, Germany and the USA. • Its main strategy was to denounce and shock. • They hoped to awaken the imagination.
Dada and Surrealism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bcoPHw1Y8g (2.24 MINUTES)
Surrealism (the 20s and 30s) in Europe and America • Experiments with automatism • Creating without conscious control • Tapping into the unconscious • Going beyond realism • Attempts at expressing the bizarre and the irrational; truths unreachable by logic • Two forms: improvised art, devoid of conscious control (Miró and Ernst) attempts at presenting hallucinatory scenes that defy common sense (Dalí and Magritte)
Miró, “Dutch Interior II,” c. 1920 Ernst, “Two Children Threatened by A Nightingale”, 1924
Dalí, “The Persistence of Memory,” 1931 Magritte, “The False Mirror,” 1928
Surrealism in photography Man Ray, “Rayograph,” 1928 Weston, “Leeks,” 1927
Abstract Expressionism (40s and early 50s) • Claimed that art is not just the product of artistic creation but the active process of creating it • “action painting” • Stressed energy, action, kineticism, and freneticism • A reaction to the war that devastated two continents • Works of art were now not only irrational, but , at their core, unpremeditated accidents • Abstract Expressionists liberated themselves from geometric abstraction and the need to suggest recognizable images. • The impassioned act of painting became an absolute value in itself.