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The Rise of Modernism: Art of the Late 19th Century (Chapter 29) by tennislove

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*Momentous developments of 19th century (industrialization, urbanization, increased economic and political action worldwide) spread through Europe to U.S>
*First Industrial Revolution associated with textiles, steam, and iron; the second with steel, electricity, chemicals, and oils-> these provided foundation for plastics, machinery, building construction, and automobile manufacturing, leading to inventions of radio, electric light, telephone, and electric streetcar
*Also explosive growth of cities due to factories and expanded agricultural enterprises
*Increased emphasis on science and POSITIVISM: a Western philosophical model that promoted science as the mind's highest achievement, supported by Darwin's theory of natural selection, leading to a growing secular attitude; social Darwinism was used to justify Western racism, imperialism, nationalism, and militarism that marked 19th and 20th centuries
*Karl Marx also believed that scientific, rational law governed nature and all of human history
*MODERN vs. MODERNISM: Modern refers to a chronological designation, referring to the art of the past few centuries; Modernism refers to art that calls attention to art- Old Masters saw flat surface, etc, as hindrances, but modernists acknowledged these openly
*Major Modernist movements were: Realism, Impressionism, and Avant- Garde (subversive and revolutionary)
*A movement that developed in France in mid-century; Courbet was leading figure; Realists argued that only the things of one's own time, what people can see for themselves, are "real"- focused attention on experiences and sights of everyday contemporary life and disapproved of historical and fictional subjects on the grounds that they were not real and visible and not of the present world
*Courbet said painting is a concrete art, to represent things real and existing- abstract, invisible, or nonexistent objects do not belong in the realm of painting. "Show me an angel and I'll paint one."
*Realists depicted working-class laborers, peasants, etc. on a grand scale usually reserved for history painting
*Depicts a funeral in a bleak, provincial landscape attended by "common, trivial" people; an officious clergymen reads the Office of the Dead
*Has the traditional scale of a monumental history painting, but the subject's ordinariness and antiheroic composition horrified critics
*Somberly clad groups of figures create wall at eye level and blocks any views into deep space; the faces are portraits, including some of Courbet's sisters and friends
*Barren cliffs and overcast sky behind and above; dark pit of grave opens into viewer's space in foreground
*Artist sparingly used bright colors- nothing heroic, sublime, or dramatic here
*Critics also faulted its disrespect for conventional composition standards: instead of arranging figures in a pyramid that would indicate hierarchy of importance, Courbet lined them up in rows across the picture frame-> more democratic; critics also noted there is no mention of an afterlife, just death and burial as physical facts
*When some of his works were refused by the jury for a Salon at International Exhibition of 1855, Courbet rented a nearby building and installed a show of his own works which he called the Pavilion of Realism
*Courbet's large daubs of paint inspired Impressionists but others derided his "carelessness and brutalities" the use of IMPASTO (thick, rough application of paint) violated accepted standards of finish
*Conservatives raged at him as a dangerous radical
*He treated the everyday with the gravity and monumentality of traditional narrative painting
*He sweepingly condemned all usual subjects of religion, mythology, and history- spelling out what others had begun to feel but dared not put into words or pictures
*Socialist in politics, with the goal to end economic and social oppression of one class over another
*Admired Rembrandt, had strong links to Caravaggesque tradition
*Funeral is of an unnamed bourgeois citizen of Ornans
*was inspired by the 1848 funeral of Jean-Antoine Oudot, Courbet's maternal grandfather and veteran of the Revolution of 1793, but not a particular record: Oudot is shown in profile on extreme left
*Two men in 18th century clothes are Oudot's peers
*Courbet is linking the revolutions of 1793 and 1848; both sought to advance democracy in France
*His intentionally simple and direct methods of expression seemed unbearably crude to his traditional contemporaries, and he was called a primitive
*He was denounced for supposed vulgarity and lack of spiritual content
*His socialist viewpoint colored his entire outlook
Image: Figure 29-2; Burial at Ornans; by Courbet; Realism; 1849; oil on canvas; IMPASTO (thick, rough application of paint)