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Reflections of a Modern World (An Introduction to some key thinkers)

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MODERNISM IN ART:

MODERNISM IN ART:
AN INTRODUCTION
Reflections of a Modern World
(An Introduction to some key thinkers)

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Reflections of a Modern World  (An Introduction to some key thinkers) Reflections of a Modern World (An Introduction to some key thinkers) Presentation Transcript

  • MODERNISM IN ART:
    AN INTRODUCTION
    Reflections of a Modern World
    (An Introduction to some key thinkers)
  • Joseph Stalin propaganda poster
    John Heartfield. (1932)Adolf the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk
  • The Effects of The Industrial Revolution
    • Migration from rural to urban areas
    • Independent, skilled workers replaced by semi-skilled laborers
    • Large corporations were established, devaluing the personal relationship between management and workers or company and customers
  • Alienation
    Alienation, according to Marx, is a condition in which humans become dominated by the forces of their own creation
    The first stage of alienation is alienation from the product that the workers produce. The laborers also do not know the aspects of the production process they are working in
    Second, workers are alienated from the process of production. They are not involved in productive activity meaning that they are not working to satisfy their own needs. They become alienated because it is not satisfying and becomes monotonous eventually becoming alienated from ones self
    Last, the worker becomes alienated from his fellow workers
    Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times (1936)
  • Karl Heinrich Marx (1818 –1883)
    • German philosopher, political economist, historian, political theorist, sociologist, and communist revolutionary
    • His ideas played a significant role in the development of modern communism and socialism
    • Art, philosophy, love, justice -- all could be reduced to economic interest
  • "father of Communism"
    Karl Marx is sometimes known as the "father of Communism”. Communism is a form of government which attempts to empower workers and eliminate social class. Its socioeconomic structure promotes the establishment of a classless, stateless society based on common ownership of the Means of production.
    It is usually considered a branch of the broader socialist movement that draws on the various political and intellectual movements that trace their origins back to the work of theorists of the industrial revolution and the French Revolution.
    Communism attempts to offer an alternative to the problems believed to be inherent with representative democracy, capitalist economies and the legacy of imperialism and colonialism. The dominant forms of communism, such as Leninism, Trotskyism and Luxemburg's, are based on Marxism.
  • Marxism and Modernism: David Bathrick
    “Is the often antagonistic relationship between Marxism and modernism due more to historical contingencies or are there basic political or philosophical incompatibilities between to two? To be sure, Marx’s own views of art and culture were derived from a classical aesthetics founded upon notions of autonomy and organicity which was an anathema to modernists and their assault upon ‘tradition’.”
    Bathrick also identifies the clash with Marxism and “modernism’s rejection of causal progression”.
    P207, New German Critique © 1984
  • Realism
    Begins in France, as realisme, a literary doctrine calling for “reality and truth in the depiction of ordinary life.”
    Grounded in the belief that there is an objective reality which can be portrayed with truth and accuracy as the goal;
    The writer does not select facts in accord with preconceived ideals, but rather sets down observations impartially and objectively.
  • Problem : Relationship between art and reality
    “It is absolutely impossible to understand art and literature proceeding only from their internal laws of development.”
    Essence, origin, development, and social role of Art could only be understood through analysis of social system as whole within which economic factor plays the decisive role
    Thus art is one of the forms of social consciousness and it therefore follows that the reasons for its change should be sought in the social existence of men
    Creating works of art appeared as a result of the long development of human society and were the product of man’s labor also “in accordance with the laws of beauty”
    They emphasise that man’s aesthetics sense is not inborn, but a socially acquired quality
  •  
    Marx and ideology
     
    During the mid-20th century art historians embraced social history by using critical approaches. The goal was to show how art interacts with power structures in society. One critical approach that art historians used was Marxism. Marxist art history attempted to show how art was tied to specific classes, how images contain information about the economy, and how images can make the status quo seem natural (ideology).
  • Marxist aesthetics
    Marxist aesthetics is a theory of aesthetics based on, or derived from, the theories of Karl Marx. It involves a dialectical approach to the application of Marxism to the cultural sphere, specifically areas related to taste such as art, beauty, etc.
    It involves incorporating the Marxian theory of history and class consciousness and the critique of bourgeois ideology, so as to generate principles of analysis and evaluation and show the place of art in the theory and practice of revolution.
    Some well-known Marxist aestheticians include Theodor W. Adorno, Bertolt Brecht, Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin, Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukács, Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson and Raymond Williams.
  • References
    http://www.marxists.org/subject/art/lit_crit/klingender/index.htm
    Marxism and Modern Art: An approach to social realism by F. D. Klingender 1943
    Marxist aesthetics: foundations within everyday life for an emancipated consciousness, Johnson & Pauline, Publisher : Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1984
    Art and society : essays in marxist aesthetics (translated by MaroRiofrancos), Vasquez & Adolfo Sanchez, Publisher - Monthly Review Press, New York 1973
  • WORK OF ART IN AN AGE OF MECHANICAL REPRODUCTION
    Marx: infrastructure and superstructure (e.g. culture, institutions, political power structures)
    • note that Marx thought that the tendencies of exploitation would put an end to capitalism
    • importance of the idea of production and reproduction
    Benjamin argues that superstructure change takes place more slowly than in infrastructure
    • his question: how has changed production of art changed the significance of art in our lives
    This is what Benjamin calls the politics of art
  • WORK OF ART IN AN AGE OF MECHANICAL REPRODUCTION
    • art can always be reproduced (copies and so forth)
    • but with lithography we have something where the art exists ONLY as a copy
    • why should this be important? – speed
    • with film it can keep pace with speech: change
  • WORK OF ART IN AN AGE OF MECHANICAL REPRODUCTION
    Original work of art has a unique existence: “presence in time and space”
    • includes changes; ownership
    The concept of authenticity : “the essence that is transmittable from its beginning, running from its duration to the history it has experienced”
    • authenticity gives us a notion of history: when it is challenged, then the sense if history and time is challenged
    Two forms of reproduction: manual and mechanical
    • against the manual the original preserves its authenticity less so against the mechanical, here the process does not depend on the original and: the copy can move into venues which are new: can “meet the beholder.”
    What do we loose when art is mechanically reproduced: its ”aura”
    • art detached from tradition
    • many copies give it a plural rather than singular existence shattering of tradition, this linked by Benjamin with contemporary mass movements
  • WORK OF ART IN AN AGE OF MECHANICAL REPRODUCTION
    The pre-Surrealist Atget explores the uncanny, the fragmentary, disturbed world of modernity.
    Eugene Atget
    (1857-1927)
  • "surrealist realism": the exploration of a real-life surreality encountered on the streets of the city
    • depiction of the street in Surrealist publications such as the magazine "La Revolution Surrealiste" and Andre Breton's book "Nadja”
    • Surrealisms connections with the everyday life of the city. The Surrealist photography of Paris reveals a city where order and control was constantly being undermined
  • “To win the energies of intoxication for the revolution—this is the project about which Surrealism circles in all its books and enterprises. . . an ecstatic component lives in every revolutionary act.”
    (Walter Benjamin, 'Surrealism', 1929)
  • The Dadaists attached much less importance to the sales value of their work than to its uselessness for contemplative immersion. The studied degradation of their material was not the least of their means to achieve this uselessness. Their poems are "word salad" containing obscenities and every imaginable waste product of language. The same is true of their paintings, on which they mounted buttons and tickets. What they intended and achieved was a relentless destruction of the aura of their creations, which they branded as reproductions with the very means of production . . . Dadaistic activities actually assured a rather vehement distraction by making works of art the centre of scandal. One requirement was foremost: to outrage the public.
    (Walter Benjamin, 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction', 1936)
    Hannah Hoch (1919) Cut with the Dada Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany
  • Walter Benjamin:
    ‘materialistic historiography’
    • the idea that history is a universal matrix prior to events, which are simply placed in order within the matrix by the historian
    • he rejected the historicism because it makes the present seem to be the cumulative progressive consequence of what has gone before
    • he claims that history is neither neutral nor is it positive progress, rather it is endless carnage and suffering
    Benjamin was trying to cut away the intellectual underpinnings of fascism and to do so he rejected the entire tradition of what he called universal history.
  • References
    Benjamin, Walter. Theses on the Philosophy of History
    Benjamin, Walter. (1936) The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction