6.3- Early Modern Visual Art


The Numerous Styles

Before WW1

The Avant Garde [audio:avantgarde.mp3]

  • Literally translated it means the advance guard.
  • Born out of Impressionism and Post Impressionism
  • Artists seeking unique and innovative expression
  • Shocking and startling

Abstraction [audio:abstraction.mp3]

  • A distortion of form and color
  • Abstraction in 3 different modalities
  • Expressive
    • Emotional, gestural and free
    • Example:   Dance Around the Golden Calf –
      Emile Nolde – 1910
  • Formalist
    • A new approach to structure and orderLarge Nude – George Braque – 1908
  • Fantasy
    • The world of imagination and dreamI and the Village – Marc Chagall – 1911

The Four Avant-garde Styles

Fauvism [audio:fauvism.mp3]

Optional video slide show:

Henri Matisse — the leading “Fauve’

  • Expressive — called the “wild beasts’
  • Born out of Van Gogh and Gauguin
  • Intensely shocking use of color
  • Disregard of natural forms and proportions

Cubism [audio:cubism.mp3]
Optional video:

  • Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque
    • Both artists arrived at the style independently
  • Patterned after Cezanne (see French spelling)
  • Objects are reduced to a geometric form or a collection of forms
  • Formalist
  • Important work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907

Futurism [audio:futurism.mp3]

Expressionism [audio:expressionists.mp3]

  • Several subdivisions of Expressionism
  • Originated in Germany
  • Inspired by the Fauves
    • 2 divisions
      • Die Brucke – The Bridge
      • Der Blaue Reiter — The Blue Rider
  • Liberation of color and a celebration of sexuality
  • Vassily Kandinsky 1866-1944 Russian, International career— leader of the Der Blaue Reiter

After WW1, before WW2


After the Avant-garde radically changed the art world with its radical abstraction, WW1 drove the notion of art to even greater experimentation and rejection of traditional styles of art. Depicting reality was no longer an issue to the pioneers of the post WW1 era.

Dada [audio:Dada.mp3]
View Dada works

“Repelled by the slaughter-house of the world war, we turned to art. We searched for an elementary art that would, we thought, save mankind from the furious madness of these times.’
If tradition was responsible for the war, then tradition should not be respected.
The art was irreverent and at times governed by chance — anti-art

The Dada sculpture that turned the art world on it’s head [audio:Fountain.mp3]

1917 Marcel Duchamp

submitted a “sculpture to an exhibition in New York.
It was a porcelain urinal signed “R. Mutt’ and dated 1917
The point was is that something ordinary in its own context, could reveal its aesthetic qualities when its meaning was reframed as art.

Surrealism [audio:surrealists.mp3]
1924 poet Andre Breton
took the word “sur-realisme’ to name his own art movement.

  • Born from Dada
  • Delved into the world of dreams, connecting with the work of Sigmund Freud.
  • Irrational, unconcerned with moral concerns
  • Frequently features strange juxtapositions of subject matter

Important Surrealists: Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Rene Magritte, plus sculptor Meret   Oppenheim and photographer Man Ray

De Stijl [audio:destijl.mp3]

  • De Stijl (The Style) was founded in Holland and is sometimes called Neo-Plasticism.
  • It strove to create “pure abstraction’
  • The first De Stijl manifesto proclaimed “The war is destroying the old world with its contents…The new art has brought forward with the new consciousness of the time contains: Balance between the universal and the individual.’

Piet Mondrian 1872-1944
Optional video:

Abstract Sculpture [audio:sculpture.mp3]
Constantine Brancusi 1876-1957

  • Romanian, career in Paris
  • His most famous works — Bird in Space depict the “essence of flight’
  • Intensely polished sculptures

Optional video:

Barbara Hepworth (British) 1903-75
Important work: Three Forms
Optional video:

Henry Moore (British) 1898-1986
Known for his reclining figures
Optional video:

American Modernism

Georgia O’Keefe (American) 1887-1986 [audio:okeefe.mp3]

Optional video:

Charles Demuth (American) 1883-1935 [audio:Demuth.mp3]
Important work — Figure 5 in Gold

The Harlem Renaissance 1924-1931 [audio:harlem.mp3]

A virtual, explanatory exhibit : The Harlem Renaissance: A Social Documentary Through Art

A school video project that is really good:

The political changes after Civil War eventually lead to the creation of small, but significant population of middle class African Americans. As thousands of African Americans migrated north to find greater economic opportunity in the Northern cities, the district known as Harlem in New York City became a cultural hot spot which allowed Black culture to flourish. This movement fostered writers, artists and musicians.

  • Aaron Douglas
  • Lois Mailou Jones
  • William Johnson
  • Jacob Lawrence

American Regionalism [audio:regionalism.mp3]

Many American painters rejected the abstraction of Europe and focused on more realistic depictions of everyday American life. This trend was particularly true in the Midwest.

Four Important American Regionalists
Grant Wood (American) 1891-1942 [audio:wood.mp3]

Important Work: American Gothic

Edward Hopper (American) 1882-1967 [audio:hopper.mp3]

His paintings recorded cafes, stores, restaurants, barbershops, houses, places inhabited by the middle class.
Important work: Nighthawks

Optional video to watch:

Copy and paste this link into a new browser window – Needs Quicktime in order to work

Thomas Hart Benton (American) 1889-1975 [audio:Benton.mp3]

Murals were part of the Works Progress Administration program. It brought art to the common man in a very public forum. Thomas Benton, extreme anti-European in style is best known for his Missouri Mural

Jacob Lawrence (American) 1917-2000

Supported by the WPA and also linked to the Harlem Renaissance, Jacob Lawrence is best known for his series of tempera paintings Migration of the Negro 1939-1941

Creating a story-telling approach to painting by painting a series of pictures to tell a story that touches on social, political, historical and economic aspects of life.

Optional video:

Photography, Politics and Art

  • A journalistic medium
  • An artistic medium
  • A political medium

Native Americans
The United States waged systematic war on Native Americans during the 1800s and even into the 1900’s During this time period the Native populations of the southern and plains states were decimated. There were Americans who recognized the greatness of these conquered peoples, and part of that recognition developed into a massive documentary undertaking.

Edward Curtis (American) 1868 — 1952 [audio:edwardcurtis.mp3]

  • 1896 took the first portrait of a Native American (Princess Angeline — aka Kickisomlo)
  • Began his association with George Bird Grinnell — Native American expert
  • 1906 — received a grant from J.P. Morgan to document Native Americans
  • Traveled extensively, including Alaska
  • Captured portraits of well known Native Americans
  • Documented daily life
  • Gallery of photos

Dorothea Lange (American) 1895-1965 [audio:fsaphotography.mp3]

  • Funded by the Farm Security Administration
  • Portray the plight of American farmers, sharecroppers and migrant workers devastated by the Depression
  • Her most famous photo — Migrant Mother, Nipomo California, 1936

Optional video:

Walker Evans (American) 1903-1975
Another Farm Security Administration photographer
Known for his documentation of poverty and sharecroppers

Margaret Bourke-White (American) 1904-1971 [audio:margaret.mp3]

  • A photographer for Life magazine
  • She defined photo journalism as art with her photographs of industrial settings
  • Photographed the harsh conditions of the Depression
  • Claimed international fame
  • Worked worldwide and covered WW2; including concentration camps and the siege of Moscow, South Africa, as well as India and Ghandi
  • A Gallery of her works
  • An example of her depiction of social injustice — At the Time of the Louisville Flood, 1937

11 Responses to “6.3- Early Modern Visual Art”

  1. KrisBelucci writes:

    Hi, cool post. I have been wondering about this topic,so thanks for writing.

  2. sarah ledoux writes:

    the video of Piet Mondrian’s works is INCREDIBLE!!! WOW!

  3. Blog #5–Early Modern | Jess Hunter writes:

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