Unit 7 LectureAbstraction and World Conflicts 1907-1945

ART102 Art History II

Unit 7 LectureAbstraction and World Conflicts 1907-1945

 

 

Matisse is the first artist of the twentieth century to break away from the Post-Impressionist style, and create a new style called Fauvism. Rather than focusing on representational accuracy, Matisse uses brilliant color to evoke an emotional reaction, as well as abstracted forms to create a personal interpretation of his world.

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

Henri Matisse The Joy of Life Ca. 1905-1906 Oil on canvas The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia

 

 

Pablo Picasso Les Demoiselles d’Avignon Ca. 1907 Oil on canvas The Museum of Modern Art, New York

We made it to Picasso! I bet everyone has heard of him, he’s an icon. Now you get to know why. This painting, this one painting, marked the beginning of modern art. Following the inspirations from the past (like Cezanne), as well as his contemporaries (like Matisse), Picasso decided enough was enough. He broke free from the representational role paintings have had completely. Instead, his paintings focus on line, color, plane, mass…. abstraction. Picasso is severing the space, denying representational clarity, and gives us this instead. It was ground breaking for artists.

Take a moment to look at the details of this painting. The faces, the drapery, the figures, the fruit. It is all new interpretations of art making. This is the new freedom of individualism.

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

And then this happened.

Picasso was “stuck” for some time after his Desmoiselles painting. He collaborated with this artist, George Braque, to develop a visual language that expanded on Picasso’s original ideas from Desmoiselles d’Avignon.

This is a picture of a man, the Portuguese, with a guitar. Try and find some visual clues to that. Those clues anchor you into this image, it helps you to understand the start.

They took away color because it had no value in their design. Instead, they are trying to analyze all sides of a three-dimensional form on one flat surface, so that we can see all sides at the same time. So, what they are doing, is taking what they are looking at, breaking it down to its most basic parts, defining each part in a new way visually, and arranging those parts into a new whole.

Read that again. That, is Analytic Cubism. To analyze something is to break it down into parts to understand the whole.

Georges Braque The Portuguese Ca. 1911 Oil on canvas Kunstmuseum, Basel

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

Cubism was a method of shattering the old Renaissance tradition of making the canvas a picture box, where you can see into the image as if looking through a window.

This next phase in Cubism takes that a step further. This is a collage, an arrangement of found items pieced together to form a wall-mounted, three dimensional sculpture of sorts.

Instead of analyzing all the separate components of their subject matter, here, they are building it up by trying to put all the pieces together. This, is Synthetic Cubism. To synthesize something is to try and put all the pieces together.

What is really did has to do with its three- dimensional quality. Instead of having a painting as a window, looking out into space, we have this object, sitting on top of the surface. It is coming out of the surface. It is literally reversing the idea of the Renaissance picture box by pushing the art outward.

Don’t worry, this approach to art making doesn’t last very long. Most artists aren’t trying to be so rational or intellectual with their work.

Pablo Picasso Violin Ca. 1915 Construction of Painted Metal Musee Picasso, Paris

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

Most were just using art for what’s its best at: a visual interpretation the world around them. Kirchner was the founder of a German art movement called Die Brucke (The Bridge), the first group of German Expressionism. It comprised of a group of artists trying to create an authentic language of expression that they felt was lacking in the modern world. Kirchner paints a city scene, where the colors are heightened into expressiveness, and the faces are like masks as if devoid of emotion. Don’t these people look sad? This painting should remind you of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Street, Dresden Ca. 1908 Oil on canvas The Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

The second group of German Expressionists were called Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), the most influential artist being Vasily Kandinsky. Instead of using tangible subjects, he is using spirituality as a subject matter. Kandinsky didn’t want spirituality to be associated with a identifiable image. He wanted the viewer to experience it by following the patterns and rhythms of the painted surface. He often called his paintings compositions, concerts or improvisation, implying that his paintings are a symphony of musical abstractions. It is 100% abstract (non-objective).

Vasily Kandinsky Composition VII Ca. 1913 Oil on canvas The Tretakov Gallery, Moscow

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

A group of Italian artists formed the Futurist movement, which didn’t object to the modern world because of its coldness or severity: they embraced it. The Italian Futurism movement was about creating images that celebrate the exciting energy and movement of modern inventions, such as airplanes and steam engine trains. This style has the divisionism of Cubist space, the emotion of Expressionist color, and the abstract symphony of shapes of Kandinsky.

Umberto Boccioni States of Mind I: Farewells Ca. 1911 Oil on canvas The Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

In Russia, civilization essentially remained the same since the Middle Ages, were the majority of the population was desperately poor and the wealth of the country went to the Czar and the Orthodox Church. The Russian Revolution and Lenin changed all of that in 1917.

Russia was exposed to the modern art world that was developing outside their borders around 1912, and the artists embraced these modern movements occurring throughout Europe.

Kazimir Malevich was greatly influenced by the restructuring surfaces of Cubism, as well as the embraced the modern world as translated through Italian Futurism. This painting represents an abstracted image of a plane in flight.

Can you see it?

Kazimir Malevich Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying Ca. 1915 Oil on canvas The Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

And then there’s this.

It’s a urinal. Turned on its side. Signed with a fake name. This is Marcel Duchamp. This is Dada Art.

Let’s start with the name. Dada. It was chosen randomly out of a dictionary because it was ridiculous. This art movement is simply that : ridiculous, but on purpose.

Duchamp was a New York artist, and he was famous for challenging the idea of art more than anyone else before, and quite possibly since. He would collect ready-mades, essentially manufactured items, and present them as art.

His work really wants to be offensive. He really wants to challenge your perception of art. Did it work? Did he make his point? Therefore, is it art?

Marchel Duchamp Fountain Ca. 1917 Oil on canvas Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

Soon after the debauchery of Dadaism came Surrealism, which is the exploration of the subconscious mind. These artists believed that images of the surface doesn’t relate to the inner working of the mind, mostly the mind uncontrolled, as if in dreams. Salvador Dali is the most famous artist to work using Surrealist ideals and imagery. Using representational references we can recognize, Dali morphs these items into twisting, changing, moving, unnatural compositions that evoke a dreamlike (or perhaps nightmarish) parody.

Salvador Dali The Persistence of Memory Ca. 1931 Oil on canvas The Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

Giorgio de Chirico Mystery and Melancholy of a Street Ca. 1914 Oil on canvas Private Collection

Giorgio de Chirico was an Italian painter who embraced the classical antiquity of Rome, rather than the modern world.

Instead of painting towards abstracted goals, he paints representationally. But, he does it in a way that evokes an eerie, dreamlike quality, which classifies him as a Surrealist.

The space in his work is not based on the Renaissance tradition of one point perspective. Instead, de Chirico was inspired by the new interpretation of space presented in Cubism.

It’s really weird. But if you haven’t noticed already, modern artists like weird. And representational artists during this trend towards abstraction are fighting the currents with original ideas of representation.

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

Another Surrealist artist is Joan Miro. In his work, unlike Dali and de Chirico, Miro relies on simplified, abstracted forms of biomorphic and geometric forms. The simplified tones in the background suggest a foggy landscape, and the flat shapes of black, white and red appear to float, giving it a feeling of weightlessness.

Joan Miro Composition Ca. 1933 Oil on canvas Wadsworth Antheneum of Art, Hartford, CT

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

Alexander Calder Lobster Trap and Fish Tail Ca. 1939 Painted steel wire and sheet aluminum Museum of Modern Art, New York

Calder was an American sculptor who was inspired to create kinetic sculptures that evoked abstract shapes derived from nature. These pieces are delicate, and perfectly balanced. The slightest movement of air causes elegant movement and graceful interplay of shape and space, as if floating in water. As suggested by the title, each shape resembles an elemental piece of marine life.

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

Henry Moore is an English sculptor who was influenced by Miro and Calder. In his most prized work, Recumbent Figure is the perfect balance between representation and abstraction, between Classical ideals and modern interpretations. Moore gives us just enough information to inform us that we are looking at a reclining female figure, but leaves the details out in order to appreciate the raw organic beauty of the stone itself, as well the simplified, abstract shape.

Henry Moore Recumbent Figure Ca. 1938 Green Horton stone Tate Britain, London

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

Mondrian’s purely geometric, abstract paintings are based on his theories of the arrangement of the universe. Based on Theosophy, Mondrian believed the universe was built on a intricate mathematic grid-like structure. He spent a lifetime exploring the concept of perfect balance, harmony, and energy through grids, lines, and simple colors. He created a group of artists with like minded ideas and they were called De Stijl (The Style).

Piet Mondrian Composition No. II Ca. 1930 Oil on canvas The Fukuoka City Bank Ltd., Japan

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

Meanwhile, back in America….

Georgia O’Keeffe is an American Abstract painter. Yes, abstract. And yes, that’s a flower. What she did was this: O’Keeffe used objects from nature, and by zooming in to her subject, the identifiable parts become an arrangement of abstract shapes, perfectly balanced and evoking the inspiration while showing us a new way to see it.

O’Keeffe brilliantly created simplified, abstracted images of objects found in nature. The extreme close up of the flower is influenced by close up photography. She zooms into her subject and redefines this simple object from nature into delicately balanced arrangement of colors and forms.

During her career, she was labeled as a “female artist” because her flowers open evoked ideas of sexuality and the female anatomy. She hated being called this, and created a series of skyscraper builders to prove she could paint “male” subjects. Yet her paintings are sensual, and their sexual undertones are beautiful, and natural.

Georgia O’Keeffe Black Iris III Ca. 1926 Oil on canvas The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

This painting looks like it’s in the wrong place!

Grant Wood was an American painter who formed a group of Mid-Western artists and chose to paint purely representationally, with subject matter based on local imagery, called American Regionalism.

American Gothic was created by Wood to represent the Mid-West in which he grew up, but has come to symbolize the American condition outside of the cities during the Great Depression. The fictitious married couple are dressed in old-fashioned clothing, and have a severe look, as if they are hard working. The house behind is American Gothic style (hence the name), and is perfectly centered in this exceptionally balanced composition.

Unlike everything else we have seen so far, there isn’t one shred of modernity in this painting. It’s quite the opposite.

Grant Wood American Gothic Ca. 1930 Oil on board The Art Institute of Chicago

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

Early in the 20th century in America, the Black American population of the rural South suffered extreme hardship, poverty and racism. Hundreds of Thousands of Black American sought a better life in the urban centers of the North. These growing populations sought to identify themselves as separate from White America, and looked to their heritage as inspiration to create distinctive philosophies, writings, music and art, based on their history legacies. This movement has become known as the Harlem Renaissance.

Jacob Lawrence trained as an artist in Harlem, and studied from the masterpieces of New York’s museums. His most significant work is his Migration Series, a collection of 60 narrative paintings that explore this mass migration, and conditions of the Black American in both the North and South. His work is direct and clear, and powerful representations of American Regionalism.

Jacob Lawrence The Migration of the Negro Series #58: In the North the Negro Has Better Educational Facilities Ca. 1940-1941 Tempura on hardboard The Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

Diego Rivera dominated as the most influential Mexican artist of the early 20th century. Born in Mexico, Rivera lived in France early in his life, then studied the traditional Renaissance paintings of Italy, and evaluated the intellectual artistic approach of Cubism. Returning to Mexico, Rivera created public murals, images representing national pride in his heritage and home, and created these murals so the people of Mexico City could too take pride in their culture. Painting in a representational format, Rivera narrates the story of Mexico, its recent civil war and break from dictatorship, and the excitement and impact of modern industrialism (Central female figure is his wife, Frida Kahlo).

Diego Rivera The Arsenal (Distributing Arms) Ca. 1928 Fresco Secretaria de Educacion Publica, Court of Fiestas, Mexico City

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

Edward Hopper is an American Realist painter, choosing to record the condition of the American people in a time where modernity was failing, and pushed the whole country into the Great Depression. Hopper’s paintings are undeniably American, and not specific to a specific region. This image is quiet and empty, as most of his images are staged scenes of how the modern world failed its people, and left a shell in its wake.

Edward Hopper Early Sunday Morning Ca. 1930 Oil on canvas Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

 

And we end where we began, with Picasso. In 1936 a civil war started in Spain, and Fascism threatened the country. Picasso’s monumental painting Guernica, is a painting about suffering, war, and chaos during a world gone astray. The images are devoid of color, of any life. There are writhing, twisting, morphing human souls, struggling against an unidentified enemy, yet struggling all the time. This is not meant to be a pretty painting. It’s meant to be ugly, because it is revealing the ugliness of war.

Pablo Picasso Guernica Ca. 1937 Oil on canvas Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid

The Joy of Life

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Portuguese

Violin

Street, Dresden

Composition VII

States of Mind I: Farewells

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying

Fountain

The Persistence of Memory

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Composition

Lobster Trap and Fish Tail

Recumbent Figure

Composition No. II

Black Iris III

American Gothic

The Migration of the Negro Series #58

The Arsenal (Distributing Arms)

Early Sunday Morning

Guernica

 

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