1.1 Intro Art Since 1945


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1.1 Intro Art Since 1945

  1. 1. Introduction © Fall 2012Art 109A: Contemporary ArtWestchester Community CollegeFall 2012Dr. Melissa Hall
  2. 2. What is Art?What do you think of when youthink about “art”?• Painting• Sculpture• Photograph Image source: Metropolitan Museum
  3. 3. What is Art?Much of the art that has been madesince 1945 deliberately challengesour expectations about what a workof art should look like Linda Weintraub, Art on the Edge and Over, 1995
  4. 4. Art Since 1945This course will begin in 1945,when artists first began to grapplewith the aftermath of World War IIWe will examine the various waysthat artists endeavored to engagewith the changing world in whichthey lived.In the process, we shall see howthe very definition of what “art”could be was dramaticallytransformed. George Grosz, Painter of the Hole I, 1947
  5. 5. The Concept of the Avant Garde The concept of the avant garde originated in the 19th centuryAvant Garde:any creative group active in theinnovation and application of newconcepts and techniques in a givenfield (especially in the arts)radically new or original; "an avant-garde theater piece"http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=avant-garde Damien Roach, Avantgarde, 2008 http://www.sieshoeke.com/exhibitions/damien-roach-2008
  6. 6. The Concept of theAvant GardeAvant Garde: advance troops whoscout out enemies ahead of thearmy Soviet troops advance in the rubble of Stalingrad, WW II Image source: http://ahoy.tk-jk.net/GermanFieldMarshalsWW2/FieldMarshalFriedrichWilh.html
  7. 7. The Concept of theAvant GardeGustave Courbet exhibition at theParis World’s Fair 1855 Gustave Courbet, The Stone Breakers, 1849 (destroyed)
  8. 8. The Concept of the Avant Garde Courbet’s work did not look like “art” to viewers at the time W.P. Frith, Private View at the Royal Academy, 1881William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Birth ofVenus, 1879Museé d’Orsay
  9. 9. The Concept of theAvant GardeIt was as shocking as Duchamp’surinal, or Jackson Pollock’s drippaintings were to later audiencesMarcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917Tate Gallery Norman Rockwell, The Connoisseur, 1962
  10. 10. The Concept of theAvant GardeMuch of the art we will study doesnot look like “art” Carl Andre, Equivalent VIII, 1966 Tate Gallery
  11. 11. What The Concept of theAvant GardeAvant garde art questions what artis or can be is Art? Damien Roach, Avantgarde, 2008 http://www.sieshoeke.com/exhibitions/damien-roach-2008
  12. 12. The Concept of theAvant GardeAvant-garde art challengesaccepted values in order to makeus think differently Image source: http://www.noordinarylife.biz/Creative_Mind_Mapping.html
  13. 13. The Concept of theAvant GardeIf it doesn’t challenge us, then itprobably isn’t “avant garde”Referring to the contemporary artmarket, David Hammons said: “Thesystem is making people offers theycan’t refuse when it should bemaking them offers they can’tunderstand.”http://nymag.com/arts/art/season2007/38981/ Image source: http://qualityjunkyard.com/2009/07/30/how-to-think-outside-the-box/
  14. 14. Modernity, Modern Art,and ModernismThe avant garde emerged at a timeof rapid technological advancementand “modernization” Currier & Ives, The Progress of the Century, c. 1876 Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pingnews/2941008151/
  15. 15. Modernity, Modern Art,and Modernism“Modernity” gave rise to a newconcept of historical time Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times, 1936
  16. 16. Modernity, Modern Art,and ModernismCourbet’s predecessors looked tothe past Ludovisi Venus Roman copy of a Late Classical original National Museum of Rome William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Birth of Venus, 1879 Museé d’Orsay
  17. 17. Modernity, Modern Art,and ModernismModern art looked to the future Fernand Léger, The City, 1919 MOMA
  18. 18. Modernity, Modern Art,and ModernismModern art in the 20th centurymoved towards abstractionFormalism replaced subject matter,narrative, and reference to theobservable world Wassily Kandinsky, Improvisation 28 (second version), 1912 Guggenheim Museum
  19. 19. FormalismMeaning was now communicatedthrough formal elements, ratherthan through subject matter Kazimir Malevich, Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying, 1915 MOMA
  20. 20. Modernism andProgressExperts argued that the trendtowards abstraction represented“progress” Alfred Barr, Cubism and Abstract Art, Museum of Modern Art, 1936
  21. 21. Modernism andProgressAbstract Art was considered to be“better” and more “advanced” thanfigurative art Ben Shahn, The Passion of Sacco and George L. K. Morris, Nautical Composition Vanzetti, 1932-32 1937-42 Whitney Museum Whitney Museum
  22. 22. Modernism andAutonomyAbstract art was also believed to be“autonomous” because it isindependent of reference to theobservable world“[A] work of art . . . is worthlooking at primarily because itpresents a composition ororganization of color, line, lightand shade. . . sinceresemblance to nature is atbest superfluous and at worstdistracting, it might as well beeliminated.”Alfred Barr, Cubism and Abstract Art, 1936 Carl Mydans, Alfred Barr, 1953 Alfred Barr, Cubism and Abstract Art, LIFE Museum of Modern Art, 1936
  23. 23. Modernism and AutonomyHans Hoffman in his studio, 1957“Let me confess: I hold my mindand my work free from anyassociation foreign to the act ofpainting”Hans Hoffmann Hans Hoffmann, The Golden Wall, 1961 Art Institute of Chicago
  24. 24. CrisisThe Great Depression and the riseof Fascism in the 1930s created acrisis for avant garde artists Dorothea Lange, White Angel Breadline, San Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Francisco, 1933 National Archives
  25. 25. Making ChoicesDoes art need to be realistic to bepolitically effective? Ben Shahn, this is Nazi Brutality, 1945 Joan Miro, Birth of the World, 1925 National Archives Museum of Modern Art
  26. 26. Modernism and Autonomy Meanwhile, avant garde art was being suppressed abroadBoris Vladimirski, Roses for Stalin,1920 Guidebook cover to the “Degenerate Art” exhibition, Munich, 1937 Image source: http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/sub_image.cfm?image_id=2078
  27. 27. Modernism and Autonomy Exiled Communist leader Leon Trotsky defended artistic experimentation“Art, like science, not only doesnot seek orders, but by its veryessence cannot toleratethem . . . . Art can become astrong ally of revolution onlyinsofar as it remains faithful toitself.”Leon Trotsky, “Art and Politics,”1938 Leon Trotsky
  28. 28. Avant Garde andKitschClement Greenberg, “Avant Gardeand Kitsch,” Partisan Review, 1939Political argument in defense ofautonomous art Clement Greenberg
  29. 29. Avant Garde andKitschGreenberg argued that art must beautonomous from “kitsch”“Kitsch: popular, commercial artand literature . . . magazinecovers, illustrations, ads, slickand pulp fiction, comics, Tin PanAlley music, tap dancing,Hollywood movies, etc., etc.”Clement Greenberg, “Avant Garde and Kitsch”
  30. 30. Avant Garde andKitschKitsch is “popular culture” – the“culture of the masses”“If kitsch is the official tendencyof culture in Germany, Italy andRussia, it is not because theirrespective governments arecontrolled by philistines, butbecause kitsch is the culture ofthe masses in these countries, asit is everywhere else. Theencouragement of kitsch ismerely another of theinexpensive ways in whichtotalitarian regimes seek toingratiate themselves with theirsubjects. Since these regimescannot raise the cultural level of Adolf Wissel, Farm Family from Kahlenberg, 1939the masses . . . they will flatterthe masses by bringing all culturedown to their level.”Clement Greenberg, “Avant Garde and Kitsch”
  31. 31. Avant Garde andKitsch“Kitsch keeps a dictator in closercontact with the ‘soul’ of thepeople.”Clement Greenberg, “Avant Garde and Kitsch” Heinrich Knirr, Portrait of Adolf Hitler 1937
  32. 32. Modernism andPoliticsGreenberg implied that to makeabstract art was “radical,” politicallysubversive, and a challenge to thestatus quo Russian Communist leader Vladimir Lenin making public appearance. Moscow, 1919 LIFE Art & Language, Portrait of V.I. Lenin with Cap, in the Style of Jackson Pollock III 1980 Tate Gallery
  33. 33. Triumph of ModernismAfter World War II, “American type”Modernist abstraction became thedominant art form in the UnitedStates, and soon became a globalphenomenonJackson Pollock: Is He the Greatest LivingPainter in the United States?, Life Magazine,1949 Frank Scherchel, People looking at a painting by artist Jackson Pollock at an American art show, France, 1955 LIFE
  34. 34. Triumph of Modernism Although considered “radical” and subversive, Modernism was embraced by institutions like the Museum of Modern ArtBruce Maud Designhttp://www.brucemaudesign.com/work_museum_of_modern_art.html Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. Philip L. Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone, Architects, 1939. Robert Damora, Photographer, 1939. Image source: http://www.robertdamora.com/
  35. 35. Triumph of ModernismCorporate collections gravitatedtowards Modernist abstraction Ronald Bladen, The Cathedral Evening, 1972 Empire State Plaza, Albany
  36. 36. Triumph of ModernismAnd wealthy collectors discoveredthat Modernism was a goodinvestment An anonymous phone telephone bidder paid £36.8m for Rothko’s 1950 White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) at Sotheby’s in New York (May 2007) Daily Mail Mark Rothko, White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), 1950
  37. 37. Triumph of ModernismModernism became the new“academy” -- and like Courbet, thenew avant garde rebelled against it William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Birth of Venus, 1879 Museé d’Orsay
  38. 38. PostmodernismPostmodernism was a reactionagainst Modernism Clement Greenberg, Art and Culture: Critical Essays, Beacon Press, 1961
  39. 39. John LathamJohn Latham, Still and Chew, 1967performance in which he and fellowstudents at Saint Martin’s School inLondon chewed pages fromClement Greenberg’s Art & Culture
  40. 40. PostmodernismPostmodernism: first used in thefield of architecturePostmodern architecture brokewith the International Style andbegan incorporating an eclectic mixof elements Michael Graves and Associates, Team Disney Building, Burbank, California, 1991
  41. 41. PostmodernismPostmodernism has been used tocategorize widely diverse styles andconcerns about making art. Whatunifies postmodern art, if anything, is areaction to modernism—at timesdestroying or debunking traditionallyheld rules or canons of modern art; atother times copying masterworks of thepast in new ways.http://schools.walkerart.org/arttoday/index.wac?id=2362 http://schools.walkerart.org/arttoday/index.wac?id=2362
  42. 42. Postmodernism“The last generation . . . was arguably the mostabnormal, surprising, chaotic, and troubling erain the entire history of art. All traditions in therealm of the visual came tumbling down to anextent never demonstrated before. Inheritedideas about the relationship between visualityand reality in general were confounded . . . .Around 1960, the idea became widespread thatthe aesthetic approach was not really the onlyavailable way to make and appreciate theimportance of art . . . . Instead of pure form andcolor, the values of criticism, analysis, cognition,social commentary, wit, humor, surprise andreversal now prevail. These values havebecome the generalized underpinnings of abroad post-Modern approach that contains manystyles . . . Yet it has always been a part of theidea of democracy that it must have built-inmechanisms of self-criticism, of which the artscan be one among others.”Arthur Danto, “Value in an Age of Chaos,” inLinda Weintraub, Art on the Edge and Over, p.254-58.
  43. 43. Postmodernism Formalist principles no longer applyFor much contemporary art or art beingmade today, the content or meaning ismore important than the materials orforms used to make it. Until veryrecently, artists were making art thatwould engage viewers visually throughsubject matter and the composition ofelements and principles. Contemporaryartists seem to be more interested inengaging viewers conceptually throughideas and issues. The elements of art,while still present at times, are often notadequate to understanding the meaningof contemporary art.http://schools.walkerart.org/arttoday/index.wac?id=2362 Image source: http://ihateblogs123.blogspot.com/2009/03/elements-and-principles-of-design.html
  44. 44. Modernism PostmodernismLine AppropriationShape TimeColor PerformanceValue SpaceTexture HybridityForm
  45. 45. PostmodernismHybridity“For artists today, the choice ofmaterials and media for creating art iswide open. Some artists continue to usetraditional media such as paint, clay, orbronze, but others have selected new orunusual materials for their art, such asindustrial or recycled materials, andnewer technologies such asphotography, video, or digital mediaoffer artists even more ways to expressthemselves. Many artists working todayincorporate more than material ortechnique in ways that create hybrid artforms. Combinations of still image,moving image, sound, digital media,and found objects can create newhybrid art forms that are beyond whattraditional artists have ever imagined.”http://schools.walkerart.org/arttoday/index.wac?id=2377 Cia Guo-Qiang, Innoportune: Stage One, 2004 Seattle Art Museum (as seen in Guggenheim installation, I Want to Believe
  46. 46. Postmodernism1.  “After” Modernism; “after” 19682.  Skeptical: questions belief in given truths3.  Subjective: rejects possibility of “objectivity” in the belief that all truth is contingent4.  Self reflexive: self consciously aware of its own practice5.  Hybrid: blurring of distinctions between genres and media (rejection of categories/pigeon-holes)6.  Plural: accepting of Image source: http://farisyakob.typepad.com/blog/2007/02/pseudomodern_co.html plurality, multiplicity, diversity
  47. 47. PostmodernismRejection of mostof our beliefs about “art” Sarah Maple, Art is Crap Image source: http://isiria.wordpress.com/2008/12/13/sarah-maple-art/
  48. 48. PostmodernismToday’s art is more about ideasthan beauty or skill – which is whyyou need to demonstrate creativethinking in your portfolio Image source: http://andreas-creative-thinking.blogspot.com/
  49. 49. When WasPostmodernism?Some believe that Post Modernismbegan in the1950’s with the work ofJasper Johns and RobertRauschenberg Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, 1950s Image source: http://jameswagner.com/nyc/2008/05/
  50. 50. When Was Postmodernism? Others suggest it began with Marcel Duchamp and the Dada Movement in the1920sMarcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917Tate Gallery Gordon Parks, Marcel Duchamp, 1952 LIFE
  51. 51. When WasPostmodernism?Still others believe that Post-modernism began with the“dematerialization” of the art objectin the 1960’s Lucy Lippard, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966-1972, University of California Press, 1973
  52. 52. When WasPostmodernism?Postmodernism’s origins aremultiple and complex Michael @ Picasaweb
  53. 53. When WasPostmodernism?Some think it’s already over, sinceit is no longer possible to “shock”people when the “avant garde” itselfhas become a commodity Robert Hughes, The Shock of the New – a book and BBC television series that aired in the 1980s http://nymag.com/arts/art/season2007/38981/
  54. 54. When WasPostmodernism?Whenever it began, Postmodernismis where we are todayThis course will help us understandhow we got here Image source: http://farisyakob.typepad.com/blog/2007/02/pseudomodern_co.html
  55. 55. How This Course isStructuredChronological overviewTopics covered on different weeksmay be happening at the same time
  56. 56. How This Course isStructuredCriteria for choosing artiststo cover: Historical importance Recently re-discovered or“hot” (theory darlings) Personal biases Jeff Koons with Pink Panther (1988) Photo by Kevin Nance Artnet
  57. 57. Survival TipsHow to survive this class . . . . ART HISTORY
  58. 58. Survival TipsDon’t expect to like everything Image source: http://www.chrismadden.co.uk/art/bogeyman.html
  59. 59. Survival TipsDon’t expect to use the samecriteria to evaluate every work of art Image source: http://www.sculptthefuturefoundation.org/criteria.html
  60. 60. Survival TipsMuch art since 1945 is designed tochallenge things like “criteria,”“standards,” or“principles of good design” Image source: http://www.designsojourn.com/what-are-your-principles-of-good-design/
  61. 61. Survival TipsDon’t expect me to “defend” whatwe are looking at as artIf it’s in a museum, it’s art – like it ornot! Piero Manzoni, Artist’s Shit, 1961
  62. 62. Survival TipsFocus on “understanding” ratherthan “liking” (not the same thing!) Understand Modern Art Breath Spray http://www.blueq.com/shop/item/114-productId.125837315_114-catId.117440520.html
  63. 63. Survival TipsBe prepared to “not get it”Focus on what you do know, andwhat you can handle Image source: http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/ 2009/07/07/im-confused/ Image source: http://www.friendsorenemies.com/web/foe/journals/sugarimgoindown13/ entry/2838851/
  64. 64. Survival TipsLearn from the critics whowrite art reviews
  65. 65. Survival Tips80 % description15% quotation of artist/curatorstatements5% interpretation of “meaning”
  66. 66. Approximate LanguageWhen we talk about contemporaryart, we rarely say “this means that” Image source: http://www.fusion.uk.com/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID=129787
  67. 67. Approximate LanguageSuggestsExploresAddressesEngages withSeems to be concerned withRaises questions aboutInterrogates the notion thatChallenges ideas aboutRaises questions about Image source: http://www.fusion.uk.com/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID=129787
  68. 68. Evasive LanguageAnd, it is always fashionable to saya work of art is Ambiguous Contradictory Has multiple (or multivalent) meanings Image source: http://www.fusion.uk.com/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID=129787
  69. 69. Contemporary ArtContemporary art is what ishappening nowThis course will cover artfrom 1945-1990 Kate Gilmore, Shoe shopping http://www.channels.com/episodes/show/10772191/Kate-Gilmore-Shoe-Shopping
  70. 70. Contemporary ArtThe Art21 website is a good placeto explore artists working today http://www.pbs.org/art21/
  71. 71. Contemporary ArtArtcyclopedia: database forresearching artists by name ormovement http://www.artcyclopedia.com/
  72. 72. Contemporary ArtLinks to museum websites (reliableresources)
  73. 73. Contemporary ArtAnd articles and reference sites