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The Development of Modernist Art: the Early 20th Century (Ism's Galore!) by tennislove (Chapter 33)

Terms in this set (48)

*The 20th century contained both great promise and significant problems, bringing both elation and anxiety; momentous historical events such as World War I, the
Great Depression, the rise of totalitarianism, and World War II exacerbated this rather schizophrenic attitude
*The arts echoed the contrast of, on one side, the utopian visions of artistic groups such as the Bauhaus and De Stijl, and on the other hand the scathing social commentary of the Dada artists
*20th century saw huge new challenges to Newtonian Physics: scientists such as Albert Einstein shattered the existing faith in the objective reality of matter -he argued that space and time are not absolute, as postulated in Newtonian physics; instead, time and space are relative to the observer and linked in a 4D space-time continuum, and matter was not solid but rather another form of energy
*Enormous changes also occurred in chemistry, biology, medicine, communication, and transportation—radios, radar, televisions, cinema, automobiles, airplanes, electrified trains, street lighting, and home appliances; also advancements against disease and famine, mass production, the assembly line, computers
*Significant challenges to the primacy of reason and objective reality emerged in psychology and philosophy with the works of Nietzsche, Freud, and Jung, including psychotherapy and the collective unconscious- reflected in fragmentation in Cubist paintings and the surrealist interest in the subconscious
*Advanced industrial societies led to frenzied imperialist expansion, related to Darwinist survival of the fittest; then the nationalism and imperialism led to competition; the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente led to World War I
*The end of the war brought widespread misery, social disruption, and economic collapse; then the failure of postwar treaties provided fertile breeding ground for dangerous forces to emerge once again
*Totalitarian regimes rose in the 1920's and 30's, leading to World War II
*Artists were deeply affected by the upheaval of the early 20th century, responding with both optimism and despair; also the challenges of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, etc., diminished the academies' authority
*As the old social orders collapsed, schools of avant-garde artists searched for new definitions of and uses for art
*The German Expressionists were drawn to the power of color seen in the Fauves, but their expressiveness is also due to the distortions of form, ragged outlines, and agitated brush strokes—creating savagely powerful canvases in years before WWI
*Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) formed in Munich in 1911 based on the founding members' interest in the color blue and horses (believed blue was the color of spirituality)
*They captured their feelings in visual form while also eliciting visceral responses from the viewers
*Born in Russia, Kandinsky was a founder of Der Blaue Reiter and was one of the first artists to explore complete abstraction
*A true intellectual, he was widely read in philosophy, religion, history, and the other arts, esp. music, and was interested in theosophy that combined tenets of Buddhism, mysticism, sciences, the occult, etc.
*He read with some comprehension Einstein's theories and Rutherford's explanation of atomic structure, which convinced him that material objects had no real substance, shattering his faith in a world of tangible things
*Wrote a treatise called Concerning the Spiritual in Art; believed that orchestrating color, line, form, and space to conveying feelings showed a more enlightened and
liberated society emphasizing spirituality
*Named his paintings after musical compositions; he was greatly influenced by composer Arnold Schoenberg's great departure
from a tonal center in music
*Kandinsky would have us look at the painting
as if we were hearing a symphony, responding
instinctively to this or that passage and then to
the total experience
*Picasso, perhaps the most prolific artist in history in all media, made staggering
contributions to art history with new ways of representing the surrounding world and moved
most aggressively into the realm of abstraction
*He was traditional in making careful preparatory sketches for each painting, but he was innovative in his insistence on continually challenging himself and those around him—had
constant experimentation and sudden shifts from one style to another
*By 1906, he looked for new ways to depict form, was inspired by ancient Iberian sculpture,
late paintings of Cezanne, and African sculpture (specifically African masks which he collected)
*This painting's title means "the young ladies of Avignon"; began as a symbolic portrait titled Philosophical Bordello portraying male clients intermingling with women from a brothel in the foyer (Avignon Street in Barcelona was in the red-light district)
*By the time he finished, he had eliminated the male figures and simplified the room's details to a suggestion of drapery and a schematic foreground still life
*Instead of representing the figures as continuous volumes, he fractured their shapes and interwove them with the equally jagged planes representing the drapes and empty space
*Space is so intertwined with bodies that the distinction is illegible
*Took Cezanne to a new level—tension between 3-D representation and 2-D surface
*Even more radical: figures are depicted inconsistently: the calm, ideal faces of the 3 women on the left were inspired by Iberian sculptures he saw in Spain; the violently striated faces of the 2 figures on the right are inspired by African sculptures
*He also reworked the bodies of the 2 right figures so that they appear to be seen from
various angles at the same time; the seated woman on right shows a ¾ view from left, a ¾
view from right, and a frontal face
*This picture represents a dramatic departure from the careful presentation of a visual reality
*Picasso said, "I paint forms as I think them, not as I see them."
*After Braque saw this painting, the two artists created Cubism
*Picasso was a child prodigy as an artist—later embraced avant-garde
*The Iberian influence is evident in the simplified features and wide, almond-shaped eyes
*It was culturally rebellious for Picasso to adopt the Iberian and African (then primitive) style in a large-scale figure painting, along with
the subject matter he chose
*The hard, piercing gazes and firm mouths contradict all views of women
ILLUSIONISM—instead they dissected life's continuous optical spread into its many constituent features and then they recomposed them by a new logic of design into a coherent aesthetic object
*Movement was named by critics who reviewed a work of Braque as consisting of "little cubes"
*Central concept summarized by Apollinaire in 1913: "Everyone must agree that a chair, from
whichever side it is viewed, never ceases to have four legs, a seat and a back, and that, if it is
robbed of one of these elements, it is robbed of an important part."
*ANALYTIC CUBISM = DISSECTION OF FORMS and reassembling for aesthetic composition, not reality
*This painting's subject is derived from a memory of a Portugese musician Braque saw years earlier; he dissected the form and placed it dynamically interacting with the space around it
*He reduced the color to a monochrome of brown tones—Cubists rejected the high color of the Fauves and German Expressionists to focus attention on form; the viewer must search for the subject
*The large intersecting planes suggest a man and guitar; the smaller shapes interpenetrate
*Braque uses light and dark to suggest both chiaroscuro modeling and transparent planes that allow the viewer to see through one level to another
*The stenciled letters and numbers show his interplay of 2D and 3D, creating constantly shifting ambiguity—there is a subtle tension in these works between order and disorder
*Braque was born one year after Picasso in France and trained to become a house
decorator like his father & grandfather
*Worked closely with Picasso until Braque went off to war in 1914
*FUTURISM COMBINED ART AND POLITICS—it began as a literary movement by Italian
playwright Filippo Tommaso Marinetti but soon encompassed all the arts; the Futurist published numerous manifestos in which they aggressively advocated revolution, both in art and in society
*The Futurists championed war as a means of washing away a stagnant past, a "masculine"
alternative to everything "feminine" and safe
*They advocated for the destruction of museums, libraries, and similar repositories of accumulated culture, which they described as mausoleums
*They were particularly interested in the speed and dynamism of modern technology; Marinetti
insisted that "a speeding automobile is more beautiful than the Nike of Samothrace," a symbol of the classical past—they focused on motion in time and space and incorporated Cubist discoveries of form
*Boccioni said that what we want is not fixed movement but the sensation of motion itself; "owing to the persistence of images on the retina, objects in motion are multiplied and distorted, following one another like waves in space. Thus, a galloping horse has not four legs, it has twenty."
*This figure is so expanded, interrupted, and broken in plane and contour that it disappears behind the blur of its movement—it surpasses similar efforts in painting in its power and sense of activity
*The images created are symbolic of the dynamic quality of modern life, visible merely by taking in details of an adjacent landscape that appear in the peripheral vision when traveling at great speed on a highway or in a plane—expressed their love of machines, speed, and war
*Later, motion pictures and kinetic sculptures that actually moved surpassed this type of sculpture
* Futurist movement began to disintegrate; its ideas were integral to the fascism that emerged later
*Full title is Unique Forms of Continuity in Space
*Boccioni enthusiastically enlisted in World War I and was killed in combat, as were
many other members of the movement
*The mass destruction and chaos of WWI horrified many artists; humanity had never witnessed such slaughter on a grand scale and over a long period of time (ex: the British lost 60,000 soldiers on one day in 1916 at the opening battle of the Somme) followed by the stagnation of trench warfare; devastating for people who believed in the doctrine of progress
*Dada emerged as a reaction to what artists saw as an insane spectacle of collective homicide;
it was international and emerged more as a mindset than a style ("Cubism was a school of
painting; Futurism was a political movement; Dada is a state of mind.")
*They believed reason and logic had led to disastrous war, and they concluded that the only route to salvation was political anarchy, the irrational, and the intuitive; they embraced the absurd, such as the name Dada (French for hobby horse), possibly picked at random out of a dictionary; it had contempt for all traditional and established values; called nihilistic—"Like
everything in life, Dada is useless, everything happens in a completely idiotic way."
*Its importance lay in the fact that it fostered a more serious examination of the premises of art
than had prior movements; like Freud and Jung, the artists believed that independent truths could arise out of the unconscious and chance, an attempt to reconnect with primeval magic
*Most influential Dadaist was Marcel Duchamp and his "ready-made" sculptures (mass-produced common objects) which were created free from any concerns about good or bad taste,
qualities shaped by an aesthetically bankrupt society
*This is a urinal displayed on its back with the "signature" R. Mutt (pun on comic strip Mutt
and Jeff and Mott the plumbing company)
*The artist's choice of this object confers the status of art on it and forces the viewer to see it in a new way and its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view
*This piece quietly explodes some of our most cherished notions: if a work of art is supposed
to be a hand-made product, crafted and signed by the creator, this work is neither; if a work of
art is supposed to have meaningful form, this one is to collect excretions. If a work of art is
supposed to show the artist's years of training and study, this shows only the results of a trip to the hardware store; Duchamp's radical gesture was one of the most important advancements of Modern art
*Duchamp made several more versions of Fountain by simply buying new urinals and signing them "R. Mutt/1917"
*He was influential in spreading Dada to U.S. after moving to NY to escape the war in Europe
*He believed art should appeal to the intellect rather than the senses
*The original mysteriously disappeared after being refused for exhibition by the American Society of Independent Artists
*"Dada was born of disgust": if art is supposed to contribute to civilization by creating objects of beauty, how can artists do this in the face of the unprecedented brutality of the war? Why would an artist want to contribute to a civilization that brought such carnage?
Duchamp's contribution to society is to ridicule its hypocrisies
*Stieglitz, committed to promoting the avant-garde in the U.S., opened a gallery at 291 Fifth Avenue in New York, which eventually became known simply as "291"—like the Armory Show it played an important role in the history of early 20th century art in America
*He also channeled his energy into producing photography, taking his camera with him everywhere he went, and believed in making only "straight, unmanipulated photographs" with only basic development processes (no double-exposure, double-printing, etc.)
*He wanted his direct-technique photographs to "hold a moment, to record something so completely that those who see it would relive an equivalent of what has been expressed"; he was attracted above all to arrangements of form that stirred the deepest emotions
*He launched a lifelong campaign to promote photography as a fine art: he founded the PhotoSecession group which mounted traveling exhibitions and loans abroad, and he published an influential journal called Camera Work
*This is one of his best-known works, taken while on a voyage to Europe with his first wife and daughter—he was traveling first class and was bored with the other prosperous passengers; he walked as far forward on ship as possible and saw deck with steerage passengers below: people the government was returning to Europe after refusing them entrance into the U.S.
*Born in New Jersey to wealthy German immigrants; studied in Berlin
*HIS QUOTE ABOUT THIS PHOTOGRAPH: "The scene fascinated me: A round hat; the funnel leaning left, the stairway leaning right; the white drawbridge, its railing made of chain; white suspenders crossed on the back of a man below; circular iron machinery; a mast that cut into the sky, completing a triangle. I stood spellbound. I saw shapes related to one another—a picture of shapes, and underlying it, a new vision that held me: simple people; the feeling of ship, ocean, sky; a sense of release that I was away from the mob called rich. Rembrandt came into my mind and I wondered would he have felt as I did. . . . I had only one plate holder with one unexposed plate. Could I catch what I saw and felt? I released the shutter. If I had captured what I wanted, the photograph would go far beyond any of my previous prints. It would be a picture based on related shapes and deepest human feeling—a step in my own evolution, a spontaneous discovery."
*Aaron Douglas was an African American artist who derived his personal style from Synthetic Cubism
*Born in Kansas, studied in Nebraska and Paris before settling into New York and the Harlem
Renaissance, a manifestation of the desire of African-Americans to promote their cultural
accomplishments, promote pride among fellow African-Americans and tolerance across U.S.
*Included works such as writings of Hurston & Hughes, music of Ellington and Armstrong, etc.
*Douglas arrived in NYC in 1924 and was encouraged to express the cultural history of his race
*He incorporated motifs from African sculpture into his Synthetic Cubism that stressed transparent angular planes—schematic figures silhouetted in profile with a frontal eye as in ancient Egyptian reliefs
*This is one of seven paintings based on a book of poems by James Weldon Johnson (God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse)
*Douglas used flat planes to evoke a sense of mystical space and miraculous happenings: lightning strikes and rays of light crisscross the pairs of animals entering the ark, while men load supplies for departure
*He suggested deep space by the large human head and shoulders at bottom contrasted with the small person at work on the far deck of the ship, yet the unmodulated color shapes create a pattern on the Masonite surface that cancels any illusion of 3D depth
*Here he used Cubism to evoke a powerful religious vision
*Between world wars, hundreds of thousands of
African Americans moved from rural South to urban North
*After WWI concluded, many European artists were drawn to expressionism (as developed by the Fauves and the German Expressionists) to express and deal with the trauma of world war
*Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) grew directly out of the war experiences of a group of German artists, all of whom had served in the German army at some point
*It was not an organized movement, but its name captures their aim: to present a clear-eyed, direct, and honest images of the war and its effects
*Max Beckmann enlisted in the German army and initially rationalized the war, believing the chaos would lead to a better society, but over time the mass destruction disillusioned him
*Soon his work showed the horrors of war and a society he saw descending into madness
*This painting depicts a cramped room three intruders have forcefully invaded
*The splayed woman in the foreground is bound and presumably raped; her husband on the left is hanged and another intruder twists his arm out of the socket
*An unidentified woman cowers in the background, and on the far right a third intruder prepares to flee with the child
*The wrenching brutality and violence pervading the home is a searing and horrifying comment on society's condition—he even included himself, his wife, and son as the models for the family
*The figures' stilted angularity and the rough paint surface contribute to the savageness
*The world's violence is reflected in the contorted,
dislocated objects and the buckled, illogical space (ex: woman's hands are bound to the window on the rear wall but she is in front of table)
*contorted and illogical just like they considered the world to be
*By 1924, most of the artists associated with Dada joined the Surrealist movement
and its expression of art in the world of dreams and the unconscious
*Inspired by the psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, they viewed dreams as occurring at the level connecting all human consciousness to reengage with the deeper selves society had long suppressed
*They were very interested in the absence of any control exercised by reason
*Their dominant motivation was to bring the aspects of outer and inner "reality" together much as dreams bring together life's seemingly unrelated fragments; the projection of this in visual form required new techniques: they used some Dada devices and invented new methods such as automatic writing (spontaneous writing
using free association) to evoke the subconscious experience
*TWO FORMS: BIOMORPHIC SURREALISTS—interested in life forms and automatism (dictation of thought without control of the mind); Ex: Miró
-NATURALISTIC SURREALISTS—presented recognizable scenes that seem to have
metamorphosed into a dream or nightmare image; Ex: Dalí and Magritte
*Spaniard Dalí explored his psyche and dreams in paintings, sculptures, jewelry, designs for furniture and movies
*He probed a deeply erotic dimension and wanted to show the world of imagination
as that of the exterior world of reality
*Here he created a haunting allegory of empty space where time has ended: an eerie,
never-setting sun illuminates the barren landscape; an amorphous creature draped
with a limp pocket-watch sleeps in foreground; another watch hangs from the branch of a dead tree that springs unexpectedly from a blocky architectural form
*A third watch hangs over the edge of the rectangular form, beside a timepiece resting dial down on the block; ants swarm over this timepiece while a fly walks along the face of the other, almost as if these watches were decaying organic life— soft and sticky; all is rendered in precise detail, as convincing as the nature scenes
*The Surrealists were as disillusioned as the
Dadaists before them; European civilization
emphasizes science, progress, comfort, and
success with blind fervor, to the detriment of
other values such as fantasy, imagination,
and play
*They believed the way to improve civilization was not in the repressive forces of reason but in freeing subconscious desires
*Their aim was to help people discover the
more intense reality, or "surreality," that lay
beyond the narrow rational notions of what is
*Dali's contribution was the "paranoid-critical method," in which the sane person cultivates the ability of the paranoid to misread ordinary appearances and become liberated from conventional thought
*Frida Kahlo was born to a Mexican mother and German father; she used her life as symbols for
the psychological pain of human existence
*She is often discussed as a Surrealist because of her art's concern with psychic issues, but she
consciously distanced herself from the Surrealist group
*She began painting seriously as a young student after an accident that left her in constant pain
*Her life became a tumultuous battle for survival against illness and stormy personal relationships
*She produced many self-portraits, but this is one of the few large-scale canvases she produced
*It shows two sides of the artist's personality, linked by the clasped hands and by the thin artery that stretches between their exposed hearts; the artery ends on the left side with surgical forceps to try to stop its bleeding and on the right side in a miniature portrait of her husband Diego Rivera as a child OR other sources say it's a pre-Columbian sculpture, a small head of an indigenous god connected to her heart; the painting also alludes to the Aztec custom of human sacrifice by heart removal
*The twin figures sit side by side on a low bench in a barren landscape under a stormy sky
*The piece also is political: she was deeply committed to her Mexican heritage and was a member of the Communist Party, which she joined in 1920
*Here she shows a commentary on the struggle facing Mexicans in the early 20th century in
defining their national cultural identity, evident in the figures' attire: the Frida on the right
represents indigenous culture and wears a Tehuana dress, the traditional costume of Zapotec women, while the Frida on the left (representing Imperialist forces) wears a European-style white lace dress. The heart also was an important symbol in the art of the Aztecs, whom Mexican nationalists idealized as the last independent rulers of an indigenous political unit
*The revolution in Mexico of 1910-1917, which overthrew a dictatorship, decisively shaped
art of Mexico
*Most post-revolutionary gov't officials believed abstract Modern art was incomprehensible to the public and hired artists to paint murals in public buildings using a readily recognizable style
*Swiss painter Paul Klee was probably the most inventive artist using fantasy images to represent the non-visible world; he sought clues to humanity's deeper nature in primitive shapes and symbols
*He accepted the existence of a collective unconscious that reveals itself in archaic signs and patterns and that is evident in the art of so-called "primitive" cultures
*He was the son of a professional musician and was an accomplished violinist; he thought of painting as similar to music in its expressiveness and ability to touch its viewer's spirit through use of color, line, and
form: "Art does not reproduce the visible; rather it makes visible. Formerly we used to represent things visible on earth, things we either liked to look at or would have liked to see. Today we reveal the reality that is behind visible things. . . . Art is a simile of the Creation."
*He studied nature avidly, taking special interest in analyzing processes of growth and change, which he coded in diagrammatic form in notebooks; the knowledge he gained this way became so much a part of his consciousness that it influenced the "psychic improvisation" he used to create his art
*Thus his work was rooted in nature but filtered through his mind; upon starting an image he would allow the pencil or brush to lead him until an image emerged; then he would respond to complete the idea
*This painting, although based on objects in tangible world recognized as birds, is presented in a simplified, childlike manner, imbuing the work with a poetic lyricism; his works' small size enhances the mysterious dream world—perhaps no other artist of the 20th century matched Klee's subtlety and understatement
*The inclusion of a crank-driven mechanism adds a touch of whimsy; the viewer must draw near to decipher its forms
*DE STIJL: A group of young artists in Holland formed a magazine and the movement called De
Stijl ("The Style"). They believed in utopian ideals and the birth of a new age after WWI; they felt it was a time of balance between individual and universal values, when the machine would assure ease of living. The goal was a total integration of life and art: "The word 'art' no longer means anything to us. In its place we demand the construction of our environment in accordance with creative laws based upon a fixed principle—leading to a new, plastic unity."
*Piet Mondrian created a monistic style = based on a single ideal principle, which he believed
revealed the underlying eternal structure of existence
*De Stijl artists reduced their artistic vocabulary to simple geometric elements, purging art of every overt reference to individual objects in the external world, what Mondrian called "pure plastic art"—"Art is higher than reality and has no direct relation to reality, because reality is opposed to the spiritual"
*Mondrian eventually limited his formal vocabulary to the three primary colors (red, yellow, blue), the three primary values (black, white, gray), and the two primary directions (horizontal and vertical); with this system he created numerous paintings locking color planes into a grid of intersecting vertical and horizontal designs, altering the grid pattern and size and placement of color planes to create an internal cohesion and harmony
*This did not create inertia but rather a dynamic tension in his paintings, a dynamic equilibrium
*The two linear directions are meant to symbolize the harmony of opposites, including
male/female, individual/society, and spiritual/material
*Saw 2 kinds of beauty: sensual and higher/universal

-they saw art as wanting to take the subjects that separate people out of art- they want art to connect/ unify the people- no discord
*Architects explored many of the De Stijl ideas, including this one built in the Netherlands by
Gerrit Thomas Rietveld, a cabinetmaker who made furnishings throughout his career
* "The new architecture is anti-cubic, i.e, it does not strive to contain the different functional
space cells in a single closed cube, but it throws the functional space (as well as canopy planes,
balcony volumes, etc.) out from the center of the cube, so that height, width, and depth plus
time become a completely new plastic expression in open spaces. The plastic architect has to construct in the new field, time-space."
*The main living rooms of the Schröder House are on the second floor, with more private
rooms on the ground floor; the house has an open plan and a relationship to nature like the
houses of his contemporary Frank Lloyd Wright
*He designed the whole second floor with sliding partitions that can be closed to define
separate rooms or pushed back to create one open space broken only by furniture arrangements
*Like a 3D version of a Mondrian painting, the exterior looks like cubic units breaking up before the viewer's eyes with railings, free-floating walls, and long rectangular windows
*The patron, a widowed interior designer, had the idea of the innovative interior wall
partitions; she wanted her home to suggest not luxury but elegant austerity
*The movement wanted to use new technologies without reference to historical styles; all buildings featured flat roofs, plain walls, and asymmetrical openings, and almost all of them were rectilinear in shape—influential from 1922 through the 1970's, esp. in United States
*The style became known as the International Style w/ 3 main principles: architecture as volume rather than mass; regularity rather than symmetry; rejection of arbitrary applied decoration
*Walter Gropius in Germany developed a vision of "total architecture" which extended the De Stijl belief that "art and life are one; art and life are both expressions of truth."
*He was appointed director of the Weimar School of Arts and Crafts in 1919, which was renamed "The State School of Building" and referred to as the Bauhaus.
*His goal was to train artists, architects, and designers to anticipate 20th -century needs
based on the importance of strong basic design and craftsmanship (Principle #1)
*He wanted to eliminate the boundaries that existed between art and architecture and art and craft; he offered courses in a wide range of artistic disciplines including weaving, pottery, bookbinding, carpentry, metalwork, stained glass, mural painting, stage design, advertising, and typography along with painting, sculpture, and architecture (Principle #2); he believed mass production destroyed art
*He emphasized thorough knowledge of machine-age technologies and materials
(Principle #3); hoped for a marriage between art and industry
*Their utopian ideals had an undercurrent of socialism present in Germany at the time; Kandinsky and Klee both taught at the Bauhaus
*The Bauhaus moved north to Dessau in 1925 after encountering hostility from government; Gropius listed the school's goals: "a decidedly positive attitude to the living environment of vehicles and machines; the organic shape of things in accordance with their own current laws, avoiding all romantic embellishment and
whimsy; restriction of basic forms and colors to what is typical and universally intelligible; simplicity in complexity, economy in the use of space, materials, time, and money"
*The letters on the building are sans-serif typography (without the serifs or curves at
the ends of letters)—had been in use only since 19th century with many new designs created in the 1920s
*Hitler opposed modernity on the grounds that it was cosmopolitan, not nationalistic; a number of Bauhaus faculty (incl. Albers, Gropius, Mies) migrated to the U.S.; he
forbid avant-garde artists to buy canvas or paint
*The school in Dessau consisted of workshop
and class areas, dining room, theater, gym, studio apartments, and enclosed
administrative offices on a 2-story bridge
*The Shop Block housed a printing shop and
dye works as well as other work areas; it was
torn down by the Nazis but the major buildings were reconstructed
*The skeleton of reinforced concrete was set
back and the entire building was sheathed in
glass, creating a light and streamlined effect
*Interior contained large areas of freeflowing,
undivided space to encourage sharing of ideas; teachers and students designed all furniture and light fixtures for the building: reductive, spare, geometric aesthetic
*The simple geometric aesthetic that Gropius and Mies van der Rohe developed became known as the International Style because of its widespread popularity
*First and staunchest adherent was Swiss architect Le Corbusier, who designed a functional living space he called a "machine for living"
*One of the International Style's major principles was the elimination of the bearing wall, which structural steel and reinforced concrete made possible; concrete slabs serve as floors and ceilings and they are supported by thin steel columns rising inside the perimeter of the interior space
*He believed that homes should provide for the basic physical and psychological needs of every human being—sun, space, and vegetation combined with controlled temperature, good ventilation, and insulation against noise; he also believed that designs should be based on human scale because the house is humankind's assertion within nature
*This elegant house located near Paris has a broad view of the landscape
*It is a cube of lightly enclosed and deeply penetrated space, with only a partially confined ground floor (w/ garage, bedrooms, bathroom, utility room)
*Much of the house's interior is open space, with the thin columns supporting the main living floor and the roof garden area
*Living spaces are lighted by strip windows that run along membrane-like exterior walls
*From the second-floor court, a ramp leads to the roof level which is protected by a curving windbreak along one side
*No traditional entrance or façade; inside and outside space intermingle
*Original colors were a dark green base, cream walls, and a rose-and-blue windscreen, echoing colors of Purist painting style
*The owners of this weekend retreat near Versailles could drive underneath main floor; the area accommodated the turning radius of a car
*This is an example of his domino construction system, in which slabs of ferroconcrete (concrete reinforced with steel bars) were floated on six freestanding steel posts, placed at the positions of the six dots on a domino playing piece
*Features combine to reverse the effect of
traditional country houses: machine-planed
smoothness of surfaces, no adornment, slender
continuous windows, buoyant lightness—he
inverted the traditional practice of placing light
elements above and heavy ones below
*Although the new architecture rejected ornamentation in theory, popular taste still favored ornamentation especially in public buildings
*A movement in the 20's and 30's sought to upgrade industrial design, with new materials worked into decorative patterns that could either be hand- or machine-crafted and reflected the simplifying trend in architecture—this became Art Deco, a remote descendant of Art Nouveau and also an event in the history of
industrial design, not history of architecture
*Art Deco had applications to buildings, interiors, furniture, utensils, jewelry, fashions, illustration, and commercial products of every sort
*Art Deco designs are streamlined, elongated, symmetrical; simple flat shapes alternate with shallow volumes in hard patterns; involved the use of organic, tapered shapes and forms derived from nature that are inherently aerodynamic (technologically efficient) as well as aesthetically pleasing
*Designers adopted streamlined designs for trains and cars, machines and consumer products
*The movement got its name from the Exposition of Decorative and Modern Industrial Arts held in Paris in 1925; it is associated with the Jazz Age, flair, flippancy, elegance, and the gorgeous salons of the ocean liners ferrying the carefree rich in the days of the "lost generation"
*The Chrysler Building in NYC is an Art Deco masterpiece; it is a monument to the 1920's competition among corporations to build the tallest skyscrapers
*It is built of diminishing fan shapes, creating a resplendent crown celebrating the great auto manufacturer before the Great Depression
*One of most striking personalities of 20th century architecture in U.S.; born in Wisconsin,
joined firm headed by Louis Sullivan in Chicago
*He set out to create an "architecture of democracy," serving free individuals who have the right to move within a free space, envisioned as a non-symmetrical design interacting spatially with its natural surroundings
*He believed in architecture as "natural" and "organic" and sought to develop an organic
unity of planning, structure, materials, and site
*He said, "Classic architecture was all fixation. Now why not let walls, ceilings, floors become seen as component parts of each other? You may see the appearance in the surface of your hand contrasted with the articulation of the bony structure itself."
*His trademarks included a cross-axial plan and continuous roof planes and screens
*Like other buildings in the Chicago area he built at about the same time, this was called a
"prairie house."
*He conceived the long, sweeping, ground-hugging lines, unconfined by abrupt wall limits,
as reaching out toward and capturing the expansive Midwest flatlands
*He abandoned all symmetry, eliminated a façade, extended the roofs far beyond the walls,
and all but concealed the entrance
*The "wandering" floor plan contains intricately joined spaces, some large and open, others closed, grouped around a great central fireplace (believed strongly in the hearth's age-old
domestic significance)
*He designed enclosed patios, overhanging roofs, and strip windows to provide unexpected
light sources and glimpses of the outdoors
*All these elements create a sense of space in motion, inside and out; the flow of interior space determined the sharp angular placement of exterior walls
*He integrated lighting and heating into the ceiling and floor and designed built-in
bookcases, shelves, and storage drawers
*He routinely used modern building materials (concrete, glass, steel), but he always sought
ways to keep his buildings connected to the earth, often using brick, wood, or local stone;
the machine aesthetic of Le Corbusier and Gropius did not interest him—they and other
orthodox Modernists shunned natural materials because they spoke of the past
*Wright spent summers working on his uncle's farm in Wisconsin, giving him a deep respect for nature, natural materials, and agrarian life
*In 1893 he opened his own office, specializing in domestic architecture
*Seeking better ways to integrate house and site, he turned away from the traditional boxlike design and by 1900 was creating "organic"
architecture that integrated a building with its natural surroundings
*He was influenced by Japanese architecture, which uses screens rather than massive walls to partition space
*The term "prairie house" came from the fact that many of Wright's early houses were built in Prairie States and were inspired by the horizontal character of the prairie itself
*The nickname of the Kaufmann House is "Fallingwater," designed as a weekend retreat at
Bear Run near Pittsburgh—in this case Wright was not restricted by a city lot
*This structure extends the Robie House's blocky masses in all four directions
*Perched on a rocky hillside over a small waterfall, it combines full-length strip windows
and contrasting textures of concrete, painted metal, and natural stones in its walls—creating
a stunning interweaving of interior and exterior space—plagued in recent years with structural problems
*His new architecture emphasized space, not mass—designed to fit a patron's life, enclosed
and divided as required
*He realized a lifelong dream to provide good architectural design for less prosperous people by adapting the idea of the prairie house to smaller, less-expensive dwellings known
as Usonian houses which became templates for suburban housing developments in post
WWII-housing boom
*He became famous in Europe as well, especially in Holland and Germany; younger
architects adopted his ideas about open plans
*Mies van der Rohe wrote in 1940 that the "dynamic impulse from Wright's work invigorated a whole generation."
*Dramatic move: Wright cantilevered a series of broad concrete terraces out from the Cliffside, echoing the great slabs of rock below—such sites declare war on the modern industrial city
*This is the best-known expression of his belief that buildings should be in and not just on the landscape
*Edgar Kaufmann was a Pittsburgh
department store owner
*A large boulder where the family sunbathed was built into the house as the hearthstone of the fireplace
*When asked what could be done to improve the city, Wright said, "Tear it down."
*Romanian artist Constantin Brancusi was one of many sculptors emphasizing the natural or organic
*His sculptures directly or indirectly refer to the cycle of life, often including softly curving surfaces and ovoid forms—he sought to move beyond surface appearance to capture the essence or spirit of object depicted
*He said, "What is real is not the external form but the essence of things. Starting from this truth it is impossible for anyone to express anything essentially real by imitating its exterior surface."
*This is an example of his ability to create rhythmic, elegant sculptures—the end result of a long process
*He started with the image of a bird at rest with its wings folded at its sides; he ended with an abstract columnar form sharply tapered at each end—despite the abstraction, the sculpture retains the suggestion of a bird about to soar in free flight, even capturing the essence of flight
*The highly reflective bronze surface, unlike the rough textures of Rodin sculptures, does not allow the viewer's eye to remain on the sculpture but follow to its tip and off the end to simulate a feeling of flight
*He made sculptures in various media that worked with the nature of the material, extracting from each its maximum expressive effect
*He stated, "All my life I have sought the essence of flight. Don't look for the mysteries. I give you pure joy. Look at the sculptures until you see them. Those nearest to God have seen them."
*His work tended to focus on two subjects, each with profound symbolic significance: the bird (symbolizing the human urge to transcend gravity and human existence) and the egg (symbolizing birth and the potential for growth
and development)
*He search for an essence seemed the opposite of the Western tradition after Michelangelo, which he thought focused too much attention on the superficial appearance
*He admired the simple forms of non-Western art, which he studied in Paris after moving there in 1904
*English sculptor shared Hepworth's interest in the void and Brancusi's profound love of nature and knowledge of organic forms and materials
*He believed that "every material has its own individual qualities" which could play a role in the creative process: "It is only when the sculptor works direct, when there is an active relationship with his material, that the material can take its part in the shaping of an idea."
*Thus the materials and forms of his lead and stone sculptures tend to emphasize the material's hardness and solidity, whereas his fluid wood sculptures draw attention to the flow of the wood grain
*A major recurring theme in his work is the reclining female figure with simplified and massive forms, inspired by a tiny photograph of a Chac Mool figure from pre-Columbian Mexico Toltec and Mayan art; the Chac Mool was thought to represent gods or worshipers bearing offerings; usually carved in stone in semi-reclining postures with their heads turned abruptly to one side
*Although a human form is recognizable, Moore simplified and abstracted the figure to express a universal truth beyond the physical world
*He said, "Because a work does not aim at reproducing natural appearances, it is not, therefore, an escape from life—but may be a penetration into reality. My sculpture is becoming less representational, less an outward visual copy, but only because I believe that in this way I can present the human psychological content of my work with greatest directness and intensity."
*This work, in elm wood, is a powerful earth mother whose undulant forms and hollows suggest nurturing human energy; also the figure's massive shapes suggest Surrealist biomorphic forms
*The contours echo the Yorkshire hills where Moore grew up and the windpolished surfaces of weathered wood and stone
*He explained about this figure, "The hole connects one side to the other, making it immediately more three-dimensional. The mystery of the hole—the mysterious fascination of caves in hillsides and cliffs"
*The contours and openings follow the grain of
the wood, and the work uses the organic
vocabulary of bone shapes, eroded rocks, and
geologic formations to communicate the human
form's fluidity, dynamism, and evocative nature
*Moore served in World War I and was gassed at the battle of Cambrai; afterwards he studied
sculpture at the Leeds School of Art and the Royal College of Art; the African, Oceanic, and preColumbian art he saw at the British Museum
impacted him more than the traditional art—he
was drawn to the non-Western art intense vitality
*American sculptor Alexander Calder knew thoroughly engineering techniques and
believed that modern experience is spatial-temporal.
*He combined nonobjective organic forms and motion to create a new kind of sculpture that expressed reality's innate dynamism
*Both his father and grandfather were sculptors; he originally studied mechanical engineering and was fascinated all his life by motion
*Here he explored motion and its relation to 3D form
*Born in 1898, he lived in Paris in the 20's; there he invented a circus full of wirebased
miniature performers that he activated into realistic motions that imitated their live counterparts
*After visiting Mondrian's studio in the 1930's, he wanted to set the brightly colored rectangles of Mondrian's work into motion, interacting in two AND three dimensions
*Marcel Duchamp named his early motorized and hand-cranked moving abstract pieces "mobiles," which means "moving body" as well as "motive" or "driving force," a double meaning probably relished by Duchamp
*He carefully planned each non-mechanized mobile so that any air current would set the
parts moving to create a constantly shifting dance in space—its movement patterns suggest clouds, leaves, or waves blown by the wind
*The shapes compare to those in Miro's paintings as well; these shapes were inspired
by Calder's love of nature and can be read as either geometric or organic shapes: geometric—lines suggest circuitry and rigging; shapes are circles and ovoids; organic—lines suggest nerve axons; shapes resemble cells, leaves, fins, wings, etc.
*Calder's kinetic sculptures (works that contain parts that move) unfixed the traditional stability and timelessness of art and invest it with vital qualities of mutability and unpredictability
*Born in Philadelphia, trained in both engineering and painting
*He created this untitled work for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
*Although we discussed Picasso previously with regard to aesthetic issues, he also maintained a political commitment through his life.
*He said, "Painting is not made to decorate apartments. It is an instrument for offensive and defensive war against the enemy."
*His political commitment became more intense as he watched Spain descend into civil war in the 1930's
*In Jan. 1937, the exiled Spanish Republican Government in Paris asked him to create a work for the Spanish pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition that summer; he accepted the commission and planned to create
a mural but was not inspired to work on it until Nazi bombers working on behalf of rebel general Francisco Franco totally destroyed Guernica on April 26—attacked at the busiest hour of market day, killing or wounding as many as 7,000 citizens—the world's 1st intentional mass bombing of civilians
*This event jolted Picasso into action, and he completed the project by the end of June
*This monumental painting (11'x25') depicts no bombs or German planes; instead it creates a visceral outcry of human grief
*In center along lower edge is a slain warrior clutching a broken and useless sword; a gored horse tramples him and rears back in fright as it dies; on the left, a shrieking, anguished woman cradles her dead child; on the far right, a woman on fire runs screaming from a burning building while another woman flees mindlessly. In upper right corner, a woman represented only by a head emerges from the burning building, thrusting forth a light to illuminate the horror
*Overlooking the destruction is a bull, which the artist says represents "brutality and darkness."
*Picasso used Cubist fragmentation to expressive effect, particularly the dislocation of anatomical features: what happened to these figures in the act of painting— dissections and contortions of the human form— parallels what happened to them in real life
*To emphasize the severity and starkness of the scene, he reduced his palette to black, white, and gray, the tones of the newspaper photographs that publicized the atrocity
*True to his political commitment and aware of the power of art, he refused to allow exhibition of Guernica in Spain while Generalissimo Franco was in power; at his request, it hung in New York's Museum of Modern Art after the World's Fair concluded until 1975, when
Franco died. It was moved in 1981 and now hangs in the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid
*Artists were particularly affected by the Great Depression that began with the stock market crash in October 1929: the limited art market virtually disappeared, and museums curtailed both their purchases and exhibition schedules
*Many artists sought financial help from the federal government, which established numerous relief programs such as the Treasury Relief Art Project founded in 1934 to commission art for federal buildings and the WPA in 1935 to relieve the widespread unemployment
*Under the WPA, varied activities of the Federal Art Project paid artists, writers, and theater people a regular wage in exchange for work; the Resettlement Administration (RA) oversaw emergency aid programs for farm families and provided information to the public about the gov't programs
*The RA hired American photographer Dorothea Lange (San Francisco-based) in 1936 to photograph the dire situation of the rural poor the Great Depression displaced
*While documenting migratory pea pickers in California, she stopped at a camp in Nipomo and found the migrant workers there starving and without work because the crops had frozen in the fields
*This picture she took there has achieved iconic status: generations of viewers have been moved by the mixture of strength and worry in the raised hand and careworn face of the young mother (Florence Thompson, age 32 and mother of 7 children), who holds a baby on her lap; two older children cling to her trustfully while turning away from camera
*Lange described how she got the picture: "I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her, and she seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me."
*Within days after this image was published in a San Francisco newspaper, people rushed food to Nipomo to feed the hungry workers
*The FAP paid a generous salary (about $20/wk compared with $11/wk for a Woolworth sales clerk); this allowed painters and sculptors to pursue their art full-time and to think of themselves as professionals; they met in coffeehouses and formed a group identity and a sense of high art's importance in the U.S., which they did not feel before 1935
*About 10,000 artists participated in the FAP,
producing about 108,000 paintings, 18,000 works of sculpture, 2,500 murals, and thousands of prints, photographs, and posters—all of which became public property and reached a wide audience in public buildings
such as train stations, schools, hospitals, and post offices
*This tired mother seemed to capture the fears of an entire population of disenfranchised people
*Jacob Lawrence found his subjects in modern history in the culture and history of African Americans
*He moved from New Jersey to Harlem, New York in 1927 at age 10, where he was exposed to African art and African-American history in lectures and exhibitions sponsored by the New York Public Library
*He was especially influenced by Harlem Renaissance writers and the politically oriented art of Goya, Daumier, and Orozco; he defined his own vision of the African American struggle against discrimination
*In 1941, he began a 60-painting series titled The Migration of the Negro after his earlier paintings depicted historical figures such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman; this series called attention to the ongoing exodus of black labor from the southern United States, hundreds of thousands of whom migrated north in the years following WWI seeking improved economic opportunities and more hospitable social and political conditions—also personal to him; his family had moved from South Carolina
*He always worked in series, claiming that single pieces were insufficient to capture the full import of the stories he researched
*He said, "I was part of the migration, as was my family, my mother, my sister, and my brother. I grew up hearing tales about people 'coming up,' another family arriving. I didn't realize what was happening until about the middle of the 1930's, and that's when the Migration series began to take form in my mind."
*The RA program ignored African-Americans, and thus this major demographic shift remained invisible to most Americans; also the conditions the blacks encountered on their journey and in the North were often as inhospitable as those they experienced in the South
*The series captures numerous vignettes of these experiences, often dominated by a sense of bleakness and discrimination; this one (#49) bears the caption "They also found discrimination in the North although it was much different from that which they had known in the South."
*Here he depicts a segregated dining room with a barrier running down the center separating the whites on the left from the African Americans on the right
*To ensure continuity among all the paintings, he created rhythmic arrangements of bold, flat, and strongly colored shapes; he drew his style equally from the Cubist space and his memories of the patterns made by the colored scatter rugs on the floors of his childhood homes
*He further unified the compositions with a consistent palette of bluish green, orange, yellow, and grayish brown through the whole series, which he felt had important lessons to teach people
*In 1942 the series was jointly purchased by the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. and by the Museum of Modern Art in New York—each purchased 30 paintings
*The Harlem writer Alain Locke brought the series to the attention of Edith Halpert, a white NY art dealer, who arranged to have some of the series published in Fortune magazine in 1941 then showed the entire series at her gallery; thus at age 23 Lawrence became the first African American to gain acclaim from the whites in the segregated New York art world
*In contrast to the Precisionists who were enamored of city life and technological advances, another group of American artists turned their attention to rural life as America's cultural background; they were known as Regionalists or the American Scene Painters
*Grant Wood published an essay titled "Revolt against the City" in 1935 and declared that Regionalism was a movement that stood in reaction to "the abstraction of the Modernists" in Europe and New York
*It depicts a farmer and his spinster daughter in front of a neat house with a small lancet window like that found on a Gothic cathedral; they wear traditional clothes—he in worn overalls and she in an apron trimmed with rickrack
*Wood enhanced their dour expressions with his meticulous brushwork
*When first exhibited, many people praised the work as "quaint, humorous, and AMERICAN" in the words of one critic; many saw the couple as embodying "strength, dignity, fortitude, resoluteness, and integrity" and believed that Wood had captured the spirit of America
*In addition to his choice of subject, Wood was rejecting avant-garde art in favor of realistic style, which appealed to people who were alienated by the increasing abstraction in art
*However, some people in Iowa felt insulted by the depiction and thought it was not a sympathetic portrayal of Midwestern life; also people thought it was a nationalist political statement due to similar themes that were problematic in Germany at the time
*His works focus on scenes from rural Iowa, where he was born and raised; this work catapulted him to fame and became an American icon
*Jose Clemente Orozco was one of the Mexican artists determined to base their art on the indigenous history and culture existing in Mexico before Europeans arrived; this movement formed along the same idealistic rethinking in the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) that overthrew a dictatorship of 35 years and the lingering political turmoil of the 1920's
*These artists undertook vast mural projects placed in public buildings to dramatize and validate the history of Mexico's native peoples
*Orozco worked on one of the first major mural cycles in 1922 painted on the walls of the National Training School in Mexico City; he also completed many similar murals in the U.S. between 1927 and 1934; from 1932-34 he worked on a mural cycle at Dartmouth College's Baker Library in New Hampshire in honor of its superb collection of books in Spanish
*The college let him choose the subject: a panoramic and symbolic history of ancient and modern Mexico in 14 large panels and 10 smaller ones—depicting the early mythic days of the feathered-serpent god Quetzalcoatl to a contemporary bitter satire of modern education
*This panel 16 revolves around the monumental figure of a heroic Mexican peasant armed to participate in the Mexican Revolution; on either side of him are mounds crammed with symbolic figures of his oppressors: bankers, government, soldiers, officials, gangsters, and the rich
*Threat surround him: hoards of gold at his feet, though he is incorruptible; cannons pointed at him; a general with medals poised to stab him in the back
*Orozco's training as an architect gave him a sense of the framed wall surface
*Orozco's early training as a maker of political prints and as a newspaper artist gave him the strength of graphic brevity, which he used to assure that his allegory was easily read
*His special merging of the graphic and mural media effects gives his work an originality and force rarely seen in mural painting after the Renaissance and Baroque periods
*Mexican artist Diego Rivera, like Orozco, received great acclaim for his murals both in Mexico and the U.S. Rivera was a staunch Marxist who was committed to developing art that served his people's needs
*He sought to create a national Mexican style focusing on Mexico's history and also incorporating a popular, accessible aesthetic in keeping with the Socialist spirit of the Mexican Revolution; he wanted to create art in public places so it could not be bought or sold, and he traveled to Italy to study the great Renaissance frescoes as well as to study ancient indigenous sites in Mexico that had large mural paintings
*He produced numerous large murals in public buildings, including a series lining the staircase of the National Palace in Mexico City, where he depicted scenes from Mexico's history
*This scene from the series, Ancient Mexico, represents the conflicts between the indigenous peoples and the Spanish colonizers
*Throughout the series he included portraits of important figures in Mexican history and in particular the struggle for Mexican independence
*Although complex, the decorated, animated murals retain an element of folklore and legibility; the figures consist of simple monumental shapes and areas of bold color
*In 1933 the Rockefeller family commissioned him to paint a mural for the lobby of the RCA building in Rockefeller Center on the theme "Man at the Crossroads Looking with Hope and High Vision to the Choosing of a New and Better Future." When Rivera, a Communist, proposed including a portrait of Lenin in the mural, the Rockefellers objected. Rivera offered to add heads of Lincoln and some abolitionists, but the Rockefellers refused, canceled his commission, paid him his fee, and had the unfinished mural destroyed
*Rivera called it an act of "cultural vandalism" and recreated the mural in the Palacio de Bella Artes in Mexico City under the new title Man, Controller of the Universe
*Rivera was a child prodigy who entered Mexico City's Academia de San Carlos at age 11
*He lived in Paris from 1911- 1919 and befriended Picasso and worked in a Synthetic Cubist style