Choose four of the following questions and write a 150-350 word response to each question (points deducted for not meeting word count requirements). Include the question at the top of your response. Put all responses into one document – in other words don’t submit the assignment multiple times, once for each response. Remember – you MUST put information in your own words (this includes information from your text book and online sources) or it is considered plagiarism and you will receive a score of 1 on the assignment. SELECT FOUR below 1. It is often said that tradition, like history, is continually being recreated and remodeled. To what extent did writers, painters, and composers of the early twentieth century deliberately break with tradition? How did they accomplish that goal? 2. Do you agree that creative expression at the beginning of the twentieth century represents the “dehumanization of art”? Why or why not? 3. In what ways does Picasso’s Guernica constitute a universal indictment of war when the painting itself includes no objects that are directly associated with modern warfare? 4. Do you agree or disagree that Freud’s psychoanalytic theories influenced ART of the early 20th century? Provide an analysis that includes at least 2 specific examples. 5. Ezra Pound said literature should be “new”. What did he mean? Provide at least 1 example. What influenced his work? 6. How is 20th century music different from 19th century music? What are some characteristics of 20th century music? Provide at least 2 specific examples. 7. What are some artistic innovations of Picasso? Why are these important? Provide at least 2 specific examples. 8. Marcel Duchamp said an artist should be a destroyer of tradition. What did he mean? What is one of his works that displays this idea? 9. On the internet, find a picture of Duchamp’s The Fountain. What do you think of this in terms of being art? 10. You’ll notice in your book there are a lot of “isms” in 20th century art – surrealism, expressionism, dadaism, fauvism, etc., etc. Take a look at these different styles and approaches to art. Which one do you like best? Like least? Explain your answer.

Modernism Lecture Notes

 

20th Century Modernism

 

READINGS

 

Sayre – p. 418 – 477

 

 

OBJECTIVES

 

· Understand the significance of the Louisiana Purchase on Native populations.

· Identify mythic depictions of the west.

· Understand significant causes and events in European Imperialism.

· Understand the relationship between Social Darwinism and European Imperialism.

· Recognize and identify key post-impressionist painters.

· Recognize key features and themes of post-impressionism.

· Understand the significance of Picasso.

· Distinguish and identify significant works by Fauves, Futurists, and Expressionists.

· Understand the psychological effects of World War I on art.

· Recognize the significance of Dadaism.

· Understand the significance of Freud’s psychological theory.

· Understand the influence of Freud’s work on art and literature.

· Identify key themes in surrealist art.

· Understand the stream-of-consciousness technique in literature.

· Understand the significance of World War II on art and culture.

· Recognize the significance of Existential and the Theatre of the Absurd.

· Identify and understand the significance of key figures in the Harlem Renaissance.

· Identity and understand the significance of key figures in jazz and blues.

· Recognize significant figures in events in the Civil Right movement.

· Recognize significant figures and themes in Feminist art.

· Understand the significance of globalism on postmodern art.

· Recognize significant figures and works in postmodern architecture.

 

 

LECTURE

 

The Fate of Native Americans

After the Louisiana Purchase, the westward expansion increased to the ultimate detriment of the Native populations. Between 1790 and 1860 the population of non-Native Americans increased from 4 to 31 million, many of these moving west. Albert Bierstadt celebrated the rustic landscape of the West through European painting modes. Journalists such as John Soule and Horace Greeley also fueled the expansion, urging “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country.” The settlers and Indians had different views of land as well. For settlers, land was a commodity that could be divided up and traded and sold at will. The Indians, in contrast, view that land as a part of a harmonious whole of which they were an integral, but not a separable part.

 

The fate of the Indian tribes was tied to the Buffalo, their primary food supply. In an effort to accelerate their demise, General Philip Sheridan (1831–1888) urged settlers to kill the buffalo. This was facilitated by the construction of the transcontinental railroad.

 

An artist sympathetic to the plight of the Indians was George Catlin (1796–1872), a painter who, from a base in St Louis, made five trips into Indian Territory west of the Mississippi. His paintings provide us with substantial ethnographic data of the Indians and their dwellings. Catlin believed the Indians were doomed to extinction because of the westward expansion and saw himself as a recorder of their noble cultures.

 

The British in India and China

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries England and France vied for control of Indian and Chinese commerce. Their influence in the region was destabilization.

 

The Chinese reluctantly allowed trade with the West through the port of Canton. England reciprocated by importing opium which led to a massive wave of addiction and its accompanying social problems. After the death of the Emperor’s son, opium was banned in China. After China confiscated and destroyed a large shipment of opium, England declared war. China was crushed and signed the Treaty of Nanjing, ceding Hong Kong, and paying the equivalent of two billion dollars. By 1880 China was deluged by a wave of cheap machine-made goods from the West and its economy collapsed. Looking for better economic prospects abroad, many Chinese immigrated to California, especially after 1849 when gold was discovered there. The vast majority of workers on the transcontinental railroad were Chinese. The United States established friendly relations with China under the Burlingame Treaty of 1867. But during the economic recession of the late-nineteenth-century, Chinese were denied entry and citizenship by the Chinese Exclusion Act. Chinese workers also immigrated to the Caribbean, where they suffered even more savage treatment and often worked as indentured workers.

 

 

In India, millions sold themselves into indentured servitude after Britain moved from the production of goods in India to the extraction of raw materials. In 1750 India accounted for 25% of the world’s industrial production, while in 1900 that number fell to 2%.

 

The Opening of Japan

American Matthew Perry gained entrance to Japanese ports in 1853. Japan had been closed to the West for over 250 years. That changed with the Treaties of Kanagawa (1854) and Harris (1858). Japan modernized on western lines while maintaining sovereignty and culture by confining access to select treaty ports.

 

In the visual arts, ukiyo-e, or woodblock prints, became increasingly popular as the technique of polychrome or multi-color was developed. The process of creation was a collective effort. An iconic artist in this medium is Katshushika Hokusai (1760–1849), whose work the Great Wave is widely recognized as a masterpiece of world art. Many woodblock prints celebrated the ephemeral activities of daily life and, in contrast, images like Mount Fuji, which represented Japan and the permanence of nature.

 

Africa and Empire

In an attempt to secure scare resources and strategic trade routes, European nations implemented a policy of Imperialism throughout Asia, Africa, and the Americas. This policy is evidenced by Britain’s declaration of Queen Victoria as the Empress of India in 1858. These practices were also fueled by nationalist competition between nations, a belief in European and white superiority, and a desire to “improve the lot of” indigenous populations. During the 19th century, the European powers vied with each other over the control of Africa’s vast natural resources. Britain protected its interests in the Suez Canal by controlling Egypt and the Sudan, later adding Zimbabwe and Zambia. The French had initially gained a footing in Algeria to curb Mediterranean piracy. They add to this colony:  Tunisia, much of West Africa ,the Congo, and Madagascar. Germany acquired Namibia, Togoland, the Cameroons, and Tanzania. Not to be outdone, Belgium, Italy, and Portugal also seized African territories.

 

Darwinian Evolution and the Theoretical Justification for Imperialism

Science of the nineteenth century also followed the realist emphasis on direct observation and reporting. He kept a daily diary on a voyage to South America, in which he recorded carefully all that he saw. He was astonished by the Galapagos, where he found distinct variations of more universal species. He soon concluded that similar flora and fauna, isolated in similar habitats, soon develop unique species. In Origin of Species he hypothesizes that natural selection can refine certain specific traits and allow stronger individuals to survive by being better able to live in a particular environment, through adaptation.

 

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was misapplied, by some, to racial analysis. Some declared their faith in the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race and the possibility of its global domination over all other cultures and races. Darwin had never intended that his theory be given such an interpretation, and in 1871 he published the Descent of Man in which he argued that altruism was selected for its survival value. Those who cooperate with one another are more likely to survive and thus pass on their genes. Not all thinkers followed Darwin’s views on this matter, however. Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) saw evolution as operating at the social level while the more pessimistic thinker Francis Galton (1822–1911) advocated eugenics, an intervention into the process of evolution to insure that the “best” sorts of people produced the most children. These views would later influence the genocidal policies of the Nazis.

 

The Rise of Modernism

This is a period of invention. Henry Ford and Frederick Taylor create the assembly line in 1908, the Lumiere brothers the cinematography, and the Wright brothers the airplane. Dramatic discoveries are also occurring in the sciences, particularly in physics. Between 1897 and 1899 J.J. Thompson discovers the electron in Cambridge, England. Max Planck and Niels Bohr develop Quantum Mechanics, and Albert Einstein publishes his General Theory of Relativity in 1915. In the arts, the Spanish Painter Pablo Picasso emerges as the dominant influence in his move towards abstraction.

 

Post-Impressionism Painting

Georges Seurat (1859–1891) was one of the most sophisticated of the Post-Impressionists. He employed color theories to form his technique of Pointillism. Essentially, mixing pigments is a subtractive process. Seurat positioned tiny dots of color next to each other so that the viewer would mix the colors for themselves. The effect was not always successful, but on the whole, Seurat departed from the spontaneity of impressionism to form a deliberate and fascinating new style of painting. His most famous work is A Sunday on La Grand Jatte (1884, fig. 14.5), which depicts sightseers on an island in the Seine.

 

Seurat would influence a number of Post-Impressionists. One notable example is the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890). He departed from the style of the impressionists, who sought to record color as it actually appeared to them. Instead, van Gogh used color as symbolic of his emotional state. He employed an impasto technique, building up thick swatches of paint on the canvas. After moving to the south of France, he enjoyed an incredibly productive – if emotionally – unstable period. He was later hospitalized in a sanitarium at Saint-Remy. A notable work is his  Portrait of Patience Escalier (1889, fig. 14.6). He committed suicide in 1890.

 

Another important Post-Impressionist is Paul Cezanne (1839–1904). Cezanne was the only Post-Impressionist who continued the Impressionist tradition of painting plein-air. His work explores the way color structures space. He departs from the spatial codes of the Renaissance in favor of a technique that would convey the uncertainty of vision. His use of color appears flat. Items in the foreground, middle ground and background are painted with the same colors, intensity and brush stroke size. A notable example of these techniques is seen in Mont Sainte Victoire (1902–1904, fig. 14.8). His use of color is equally experimental and influential on the history of art.

 

Paul Gauguin (1848–1903), a friend of van Gogh’s, also had a predilection for the emotional use of color. A frustrated businessman, he abandoned career and family to move to Tahiti to paint the local inhabitants and experience the primitif, the primal element of life. He briefly returned to France penniless to market his art and his fictionalized account of life in Tahiti, Noa Noa. He returned to Tahiti in 1895 and moved to the remote island of Hivaoa, where he died in 1903.

 

Pablo Picasso’s Paris: At the Heart of the Modern

Pablo Picasso (1871–1973) was influenced by Cezanne, Gauguin, and African masks which he viewed at an ethnographic museum. He understands his art as an exorcism. He presented taboo subjects, such as prostitutes, in an ambiguous space reminiscent of Cezanne. His Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (fig. 14.11), which he completed in 1907 and exhibited only in 1916, is a striking example of his break from symbolism.

 

Georges Braque (1882–1963) was initially a disciple of Matisse but later a collaborator with Picasso. They shared a mutual obsession with Cezanne’s work. In 1908, under the influence of Cezanne’s landscapes, Braque inaugurated the Cubist movement with his Houses at l’Estaque. Braque’s geometric and fragmented space fascinated Picasso, who began to emulate Braque. The artists also later collaborated on collages, works that incorporated found objects such as newspaper clippings.

 

Futurism: The Cult of Speed

News of the innovations of Picasso and Braque quickly spread to avant-garde circles throughout Europe. In 1909 Filippo Marinetti (1876–1944) published his manifesto of Futurism. The Futurists celebrated speed, technology, and violence. Their frequent subjects were the car, the train, the airplane, and the industrial town. Through philosophically remote from Cubism, they borrowed its techniques. Artists Balla, Boccioni, Carra, Russolo, and Severini embraced Marinetti’s vision. Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (fig. 14.16) is a notable example of this style.

 

The French Fauves and the Expressionist Movement in Germany

Henri Matisse, the leading painter of Fauvism, was Picasso’s chief artistic rival. Their painting styles are diametrically opposed. Picasso’s work is static, angular, and shallow while Matisse’s work is circular, voluptuous, and active. The Fauves borrowed the arbitrary use of color from van Gogh and Gauguin. Picasso consciously rejected the symbolism of Matisse.

 

Der Blau Reiter (the Blue Rider) was founded in 1911 by the Russian Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944), and the German Franz Marc (1880–1916). Der Blau Reiter was interested in the spirituality of color. Kandinsky developed a theory of color: blue (heaven and masculine), yellow (earth and feminine). Marc frequently depicted animals, which he believed expressed elemental powers. Kandinsky, on the other hand, explored the theme of the apocalypse and Moscow as the New Jerusalem. The name “Blue Rider” referred to St. George, the patron saint of Moscow.

 

Modernist Music and Dance

In 1913 Igor Stravinsky’s (1882–1971) Rite of Spring (CD Track 14.1) premiered. It was shut down by the police as the audience became unruly. Stravinsky’s work was polyrhythmic and polytonal. It celebrated pagan Russian fertile rites. Vaslav Nijinsky (1890–1950), the choreographer, positioned his dancers in angular postures and had them stamp and claw in the manner of a prehistoric dance. Many of the audience believed they were witnessing a futurist confrontational performance. Like the Futurists’ work, Stravinsky’s work antagonized the audience with its dissonance.

 

One strikingly different composer from the period is Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951). Schoenberg abandoned the notion of a tonal center and instead developed the technique of Sprechstimme (speech-song), as in Pierrot lunaire (CD Track 14.2).

 

The Great War and Its Impact

The World War I began with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914. The war would eventual claim upwards of ten million lives, with many more permanently maimed and disabled. Many artists and intellectuals experienced the horrors of trench warfare and mustard gas. This would affect the intellectual and artistic milieu for years to come.

 

Trench Warfare and the Literary Imagination

Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961) had volunteered in the Red Cross during the war and had been wounded in Italy. He moved to Paris to write his novels. He developed a direct, simple style that would offer the certainty he craved. His Farewell to Arms (1929) states his preference for direct concrete prose.

 

The war was initially met with enthusiasm by a generation that had been raised on the notion of the nobility of war. Soldiers soon discovered that this was not an opportunity to display Homeric arête, or heroism. Wilfred Owen (1893–1918) confronts Horace’s “lie” “that it’s a beautiful and fitting thing to die for your country” in his “Dulce et Decorum Est” (1918, reading 14.2). The German writer Erich Maria Remarque also shows the sense of horror in war with his All Quiet on the Western Front.

 

William Butler Yeats’s (1865–1939) work prior to the war celebrated bucolic nature. After the war his work becomes foreboding and apocalyptic like his “The Second Coming” (1919, reading 14.3). T.S. Eliot’s (1888–1965) Waste Land (1921, reading 14.4) also describes a world that has come unhinged. Despair predominates.

 

Escape from Despair: Dada

In Switzerland, a neutral country, the Dada movement was founded in 1916 at Cabaret Voltaire. Among its founders are Tristan Tzara (1896–1963), Richard Hulsenbeck (1892–1972), and Hugo Ball (1886–1927). Dada artist generated their poems and works by chance techniques including cutting up articles and works and then randomly rearranging them. They also made photomontages. Marcel Duchamp’s works have certain affinities with the Dada movement.

 

Two American photographers Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) and Paul Strand (1890–1976) were influenced by Cubist techniques of composition (fig.14.22). Stieglitz was also instrumental in bringing European art to America.

 

Russia: Art and Revolution

Tsar Nicholas II (1868–1918) oversaw the disastrous Russian involvement in the war. One million Russians died and another million soldiers deserted. In 1917 the Tsar was forced to abdicate, after massive strikes and shortages crippled the country. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870–1929), a disciple of Karl Marx, led his Bolsheviks to victory. He sought to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, which he believed would eventually give rise to an egalitarian society.

 

In the arts, Kasimir Malevich (1878–1935) founded the movement of Suprematism in 1913. His work was non-representational and completely abstract. His Suprematist Painting, Black Rectangle, Blue Triangle of 1915 (fig. 14.23) demonstrates how visual affects depend upon context. Lazar Lissitzsky (1890–1941) also contributed to the movement.

 

In Russian, Cinema Sergei Eisenstein (1898–1948) and Lev Kuleshov (1899–1970) developed the technique of montage. Montage is the cutting together of disparate shots to create a new meaning. Kuleshov used montage to bring cohesion to a film; Eisenstein used it to create tension. The most famous use of montage by Eisenstein is the Odessa Steps sequence in his Battleship Potemkin (1925, Focus section, pp. 444-445). The scene depicts the massacre of civilians by Tsarist troops. It created worldwide sympathy for the Russian Revolution. In the sequence, Eisenstein uses 155 different shots over a period of four minutes and 20 seconds.

 

Freud and the Workings of the Mind

In 1886 Sigmund Freud opened a practice in Vienna to treat nervous disorders. He came to the conclusion that many adults suffered from sexual traumas that were rooted in  infantile desires. His Interpretation of Dreams (1900) argued that much of what is “irrational” in dreams actually followed the logic of such sexual traumas. Freud was groundbreaking in his frank discussion of sexuality. In 1920 he published Beyond the Pleasure Principle, in which he argued that there are two fundamental drives in human beings death (thanatos) and pleasure (eros). In 1923 he continued this line of argument by developing a tripartite theory of the soul. The id is the infantile part which seeks immediate gratification; the ego mediates between the demands of the id and the requirements of society. The superego, which is associated with the conscience, burdens the soul with guilt because it fails to distinguish between “thinking about doing” and “doing.” The ego is able to sublimate the id’s desires into more socially acceptable activities, such as artistic and scientific creation. In 1930, Freud published his Civilization and Its Discontents. Here he connected his theory of psychology with an analysis of society. His work would have a lasting influence on art, psychology, and philosophy.

 

The Dreamwork of Surrealist Painting

Inspired by the work of Freud, a new group of artists explored the unconscious in their work. Andre Breton (1896–1966) founded Surrealism. Spaniards Joan Miro (1893–1983) and Salvador Dali (1904–1989) were also members of the group. Dali explored the unconscious through his “paranoiac critical method,” a method typified by his works the Lugubrious Game (1929) and Persistence of Memory (1931). His works explore the domain of dreams and included images associated with Freud’s eros and thanatos. In 1938, Dali was expelled from the movement because of his support for Hitler and for refusing to support the Spanish Republic against Franco.

 

The Stream-of-Consciousness Novel

Drawing on the philosophical work of William James (1842–1910) and Henri Bergson (1859–1941), James Joyce (1882–1941), Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) and Marcel Proust (born 1871) developed the stream-of-consciousness technique of writing. In Joyce’s Ulysses (1925), he follows a day in the life of Leopold Bloom (a modern-day Odysseus) through Dublin. The work was revolutionary in following the internal monologue and free association of the characters. Woolf followed Joyce with her Mrs. Dalloway. Marcel Proust’s monumental work, Remembrance of Time Past (see reading 42.13), develops the technique further, as does William Faulkner in his Sound and Fury.

 

World War II and Its Aftermath

World War II was caused by a number of factors, including the rise of Fascism and the Great Depression. In Germany, Hitler believed that the Jews were conspiring to destroy the Aryan race. He credited Jewish financial interests with the stock market crash of 1929 and the massive unemployment in Germany.

 

In Italy, workers had already seized and redistributed some properties. Benito Mussolini (1883–1945) and his Black Shirt thugs suppressed left wing dissent. In October 1922 he marched in Rome, where Victor Emmanuel III made him prime minister. He was later granted dictatorial powers which he used to outlaw political opposition. He would later take the name il Duce (the Leader).

 

In Spain, the election of a democratic government in 1931 forced King Alfonso VIII to flee the country without abdicating. In 1936, the Spanish Popular Front offered an amnesty to all imprisoned by the monarchists. This alarmed the right wing Falange movement. General Francisco Franco (1892–1975) led the Spanish army, which had temporarily withdrawn to Morocco on a coup d’etat. Fascist Italy and Germany supported Franco against the Republic. And, while America officially remained neutral, many American liberals such as Ernest Hemingway supported the Spanish Republic. The German’s total war bombing campaign against the Spanish Republic would inspire Picasso’s harrowing Guernica (fig. 15.2).

 

The Japanese were pursuing their own imperialistic policies. In 1931 they invaded China and by 1941 they had conquered Indochina. When America froze Japanese assets, the Japanese retaliated by bombing Pearl Harbor in 1941. America entered the war, winning important battles in Midway and Guadalcanal. The war ended in May 8, 1945 in Europe. In the east, the War ended on August 14, 1945 after the U.S. deployed nuclear bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

 

Japan after the War: Living with the Bomb

In Japan, artists have continued to struggle with the horrifying reality of the atomic bomb. Ishiro Honda’s (1911-1993) Gojira (1954, fig. 15.3) confronts the bombing of Nagaski and Hiroshima through the figure of a monstrous beast born of an American nuclear test in the Pacific. The American version of the film Godzilla was radically altered to excise any allusions to the American use of the bomb. It has only recently become available for Americans in its unedited form.

 

Europe after the War: The Existential Quest

The war and the Holocaust called into question facile optimism about reason and progress in human history. It also challenged the orthodoxy regarding science and technology’s contribution to the greater good.

 

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980) argued that “existence precedes essence,” that humans exist first and then define their sense of meaning second. God for Sartre is irrelevant. One is condemned to be free. The classical statement of his philosophy is found in his Being and Nothing (1943) and No Exit (1944, reading 15.1).

 

The Theater of the Absurd develops existentialist themes of absurdity and the quest for meaning in drama. Its most famous representative is Samuel Beckett (1906–1989). His Waiting for Godot (1954) is quintessential theater of the absurd (reading 15.2a, 15.2b).

 

America after the War: Triumph and Doubt

The State Department exhibited works by American Abstract Expressionists across Europe to argue that America and not the Soviet Union was the land of opportunity and freedom. Two significant figures in this movement are Willem de Kooning (1904–1997) and Jackson Pollock (1912–1956). The latter created a series of “action paintings” after undergoing a regime of psychoanalysis. In the words of art critic Harold Rosenberg, his work is “no longer a picture by an event.”

 

The color-field painters Mark Rothko (1903–1970) and Helen Frankenthaler (b. 1928) produced more meditative work. Rothko worked on a very large scale to create pictures that the viewer enters into and that one can not dominate due to size disparity.

 

The Aesthetics of Inclusiveness

Alan Kaprow (1927–2006), a student of Cage, created random happenings inspired by the early work of his teacher. His 18 Happenings in 6 Parts (1959) is a notable example (See reading 15.3).

 

In music John Cage (1912–1992) reflects the insights of the Beats’ “everything can be art” sensibility in his chance compositions. His 4’33’’ is a series of 3 silent movements which, when performed, are filed by the ambient sounds of the environment. Cage collaborated with the painter Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925) and choreographer Merce Cunningham (b. 1919) on a number of works. The works stressed the independence of the various arts. The collaborators would paradoxically not provide the necessary information for coordination of efforts. They would allow the pieces to unfold through chance(CD track 15.1).

 

After the war America entered a period of prosperity. Consumer culture and fast food flourished through advertisements on television.

 

Mass Media and the Culture of Consumption

Recognizing the ways in which consumer society creates a world of desire, Marshall McLuhan (1911–1980) argued that “the medium is the message.” Furthermore, he believed that the “communication” in mass-communication was a misnomer. Modern advertising and television are not communication because they are one directional. The viewer is completely passive. The only response elicited was the response of consumption.

 

High and Low: The Example of Music

Popular music took on a new political importance during this period of protest. Previous artists like Elvis Presley (1925–1977) had already explored the sexual element underlying popular music. A new generation of artists from England – such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd – advocated a politically tinged hedonism of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.”

 

The distinction between high art and low art was again challenged during this period. American composers Charles Ives (1874–1954) and Leonard Bernstein (1918–1980) continued this tradition. For Bernstein, popular music was much more vital than modern avant-garde composition.

 

Artists explored these insights in the pop art movement. Andy Warhol (1928–1987) explored art as commodity in his Campbell Soup Cans (1962, fig. 15.9) and celebrity as a commodity in his Marilyn Diptych (1962, fig. 15.10). Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997, figs. 15.11, 15.12) created variations on the comic strip in his work while Swedish-born Chicago artist Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929) created “soft” sculptures.

 

The Ongoing Fight for Civil Rights

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1963) led a boycott of the bus system. In 1955 the Supreme Court ruled that such bus segregation violated the fourteenth amendment. In 1963 Bull Connor, the police chief of Montgomery, used police dogs and fire hoses to suppress protests. Soon the jail was filled with over 2,000 protestors, including Reverend King himself. He wrote what would become the manifesto of the civil rights movement. That same year Randolph and King led 250,000 protestors to march on Washington D.C. Peter, Paul, and Mary performed their rendition of Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

 

Harlem Renaissance and the Roots of the Movement

Due to a weevil infestation in the South as well as the oppression of the Jim Crow Laws, a wave of African American migrants moved north seeking economics opportunities.

 

The Harlem Renaissance had its inauguration in a gathering of the National Urban League, a civil rights organization, in 1924. Charles S. Johnson (1893–1956) gathered black artists and white critics and journalists. In 1925 the sociological journal Survey Graphic devoted an issue to black artists: Harlem: Mecca of the New Negro. Howard Philosophy professor Alain Leroy Locke (1886–1954) provided the introduction which has come to be seen as the manifesto of the New Negro movement (reading 15.4).

 

Langston Hughes (1902–1967) emerged as one of the most outstanding poets of the Harlem Renaissance. He had traveled to Paris, which after World War I had become a haven for black artists and musicians (See reading 15.5). Hughes’s work had the inflections and syncopation of jazz and the blues.

 

The Blues and Jazz

Novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald coined the phrase “jazz age,” and it stuck as the label for this period. Jazz descended from the blues and was characterized by its syncopation and its blue notes (bent or flattened 3rd, 5th, or 7th notes of the scale). In New Orleans, jazz was played in the red light district of Storeyville. In 1917 Storeyville was shut down by the Navy on concerns regarding its negative influence on sailors’ discipline. Many jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong (1900–1971) moved north to Chicago. Armstrong’s Hot Than That (1927. CD track 15.3) popularized his vocal technique of scat. Meanwhile in Harlem, Duke Ellington (1899–1974) began a five-year engagement at the Cotton Club. His It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t got that Swing) (1932, CD Track 15.4) popularized the swing style. After his work was broadcast on the radio, Ellington inspired numerous imitators, such as Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and “Count” Basie.

 

The Feminist Movement

The invention of the “pill” in the 1960s allowed women to explore their sexuality in ways that men had always taken for granted. This period saw the rise of the feminist movement. Betty Friedan’s (1921–2006) work The Feminine Mystique (1963) was an important influence here. Friedan argued against Freud. Women have envied men simply because they lack the opportunities and the power afforded to men. She argues that “woman” is a patriarchal construct as it derives etymologically from “wifman” (the wife of man). Friedan was one of the founders of NOW (the National Organization for Women) which sought gender equity in employment and advanced the rights of women.

 

Poet Anne Sexton (1928–1974) explored similar themes of feminine identity and patriarchal constructs in their work. In the visual arts, the Guerrilla Girls also explore themes of male cultural domination (fig.15.14).

 

The Postmodern Era

The postmodern style is characterized by a “unity of inclusion.” Architects Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour reject Mies van der Rohe’s dictum that “less is more” in favor the hybrid eclecticism of Las Vegas. In Las Vegas a multiplicity of styles competed for attention.

 

Postmodern Architecture: The Example of Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry (b. 1929) may be the most famous and influential of postmodern architects. His Gehry Residence (1977–78, fig. 15.15) scandalized his neighbors with its use of disparate materials such as corrugated metal, chain linking fencing, and concrete block that surrounded the original house. They create a “difficult whole.”  The work seemed deliberately unfinished and forces the viewer to consider the meaning of architecture.

 

Perhaps Gehry’s most famous work is his Guggenheim Bilbao (1997, figs. 15.16,15.17); its sculptural mass sheathed in titanium panels was created with French airspace software. It forms a “difficult whole” with the surrounding Basque countryside.

 

East/West, North/South: Power and Appropriation

Many contemporary visual artists explore the effect of globalization on indigenous culture. Japanese artist Yukinori Yanagi’s (b. 1959) America (fig. 15.19) uses ants to disrupt flags of colored sand.

 

British Nigerian artist Chris Ofili (b. 1968) demonstrates this bind with his work The Holy Virgin Mary (1996, fig. 15.21). The work makes uses of pictures of genitalia cut from pornographic magazines and elephant dung to decorate a picture of the mother of Christ. For the Yoruba in West Africa, the display of female genitalia is a sign of fertility. Elephant dung is worshiped in Zimbabwe as a god of fertility. Integrating these African traditions in a work presented for Western consumption brought the charge of blasphemy from the Catholic Church.

 

Yosumasu Morimura’s Portrait (Twins) (fig. 15.20) is a reprise of Manet’s Olympia. Here the Japanese man is the prostitute for the west.

 

Pakistani painter Shazia Sikander explores her multiple identities in works like Pleasure Pillars (2001, fig. 15.22), which draw inspiration from Hinduism and Islam, as well as western sources.

 

The Survival of an Indigenous Culture

In the Northwest, native populations were impacted by globalization, industry, and government legislation. The tradition of producing Gyaa’aang (Man who stands up) or totem poles had largely been lost. The Haida people believed that the totem pole was given to them by divine beings. The poles celebrate their ancestors and the divinities they encountered. The totem pole was closely associated with the practice of potlatch, a celebration held in honor of a host. The Canadian Government made such potlatches illegal between 1883 and 1951. In 1970 tidal erosion uncovered a Mukah whaling village. In total over 55,000 artifacts were found, some over 500 years old. This find led to a revitalization of Northwestern Native arts. Greg Colfax is a prominent figure in this movement. Since the Mukah were a whaling people, Colfax’s work focuses on this motif. The Mukah voluntarily gave up whaling in 1920 because they could not compete with commercial whaling. With the recent rebound in grey whale population the Mukah have recommenced whaling, killing their first whale in 1999. The Mukah show that it is possible to overcome globalization on a local level.

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