2.5 figurative art 1950s

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  • 1. American Figurative Art in the 1950sArt 109A: Contemporary ArtWestchester Community CollegeFall 2012Dr. Melissa Hall
  • 2. Modernist OrthodoxyFrom its inception the Museum ofModern Art favored abstraction 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/
  • 3. Modernist OrthodoxyFigurative art had no role to play inthe narrative of Modernist“progress” Alfred Barr, Cubism and Abstract Art, Museum of Modern Art, 1936
  • 4. Modernist OrthodoxyThe Whitney Museum was moreinclusive in its programsIt continued to exhibit figurativeartists alongside abstractionists,refusing to impose a normativestyle Whitney Museum of American Art at 10 West 8th Street, c. 1931 Image source: http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/BreakingGround/Works
  • 5. Modernist OrthodoxyBut with the success of AbstractExpressionism, figurative artistsfound themselves increasinglymarginalized from the mainstream Life Magazine, “Jackson Pollock: Is He the Greatest Living Painter in the United States?” 1949
  • 6. Modernist OrthodoxyIn mainstream art criticism, onlyabstract art was considered to be“advanced” Barnett Newman, Onement I, 1948 Jackson Pollock, Cathedral, 1947
  • 7. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sMany American artists who wereactive in the 1930s and 1940scontinued to pursue a figurativestyle Gjon Mili, Ben Shahn, 1954 Image source: http://images.google.com/hosted/life/ 543c2fbc034fc083.html Ben Shahn, Scorn, 1952 Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
  • 8. Ben Shahn, Liberation, 1945Museum of Modern Art
  • 9. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sSome of Hopper’s best works weredone in the 1950’s-60s Edward Hopper, Self Portrait, 1925-30 Whitney Museum of American Art
  • 10. Edward Hopper, Morning Sun, 1952Columbus Museum of Art
  • 11. Edward Hopper, Office in a Small City, 1953Metropolitan Museum
  • 12. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sNorman Rockwell continued towork well into the 1960s, andaddressed contemporary socialissues in several of his works Norman Rockwell, Triple Self Portrait. Cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, February 13, 1960. Norman Rockwell Museum
  • 13. Norman Rockwell, The Problem we All Live With, 1964Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
  • 14. Norman Rockwell, Southern Justice(Murder in Mississippi). Unpublishedstory illustration for Look, June 29,1965. Norman Rockwell Estate.
  • 15. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sAndrew Wyeth was anotherfigurative artist working at this time Andrew Wyeth, Turkey Pond, 1944 Farnsworth Art Museum
  • 16. Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World, 1948Museum of Modern Art
  • 17. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sFairfield Porter remained largelyunrecognized, in spite of his artworld connections as a critic Fairfield Porter, Self Portrait, 1972 Parrish Art Museum
  • 18. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sWhen Porter was given aretrospective at the BostonMuseum of Fine Arts in 1983 it wastitled “Realist Painter in an Age ofAbstraction” -- a title that capturesthe predicament of figurative artistsat this time Fairfield Porter, Katie and Anne, 1955 Hirshhorn Museum
  • 19. Fairfield Porter, The Mirror, 1960Nelson Atkins Museum
  • 20. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sMilton Avery was a close friend ofMark Rothko and an importantinfluence on his work Arnold Newman, Milton Avery, 1961 Image source: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/8649/Milton-Avery-photograph-by-Arnold- Newman-1961
  • 21. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sHe continued to work abstractly,while retaining recognizable subjectmatter in his work Milton Avery, White Rooster, 1947 Metropolitan Museum
  • 22. Milton Avery, Sea Grasses and Blue Sea, 1958Museum of Modern Art
  • 23. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sLarry Rivers is often associatedwith Beat poets such as FrankO’Hara, and was a precursor of thePop movement of the 1960s Larry Rivers, Self Portrait, 1953 Art Institute of Chicago
  • 24. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sHe rebelled against the Modernistorthodoxy by challenging the tabooagainst subject matter Larry Rivers, Self Portrait, 1953 Art Institute of Chicago
  • 25. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sHis website proudly announces thatthe influential art critic ClementGreenberg though his work “stinks” http://larryriversfoundation.org/home.html
  • 26. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sOne of Rivers’ seminal works wasWashington Crossing the Delaware Larry Rivers, Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1953 Museum of Modern Art
  • 27. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sIt was a “history painting,” paintedin a loose brushy style, withcharacters plagiarized from arthistory Larry Rivers, Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1953 Museum of Modern Art
  • 28. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sThe picture was a parody of theoverblown heroics of EmanuelLeutze’s famous painting in theMetropolitan Museum Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, George Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1851 Metropolitan Museum
  • 29. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sRivers had chosen the most“backward” kind of painting hecould think of -- patriotic historypainting Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, George Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1851 Metropolitan Museum
  • 30. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sHe combined this old fashioned“academic” subject matter with aloose, brushy style considered tobe “advanced” Larry Rivers, Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1953 Museum of Modern Art
  • 31. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sBy combining the overblownheroics of history painting with themock-heroic style of AbstractExpressionism, Rivers was makingfun of the grandiose claims of hiscontemporaries Larry Rivers, Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1953 Museum of Modern Art
  • 32. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sThe response, as Rivers explains,was “the same reaction as whenthe Dadaists introduced a toilet seatas a piece of sculpture in a Dadashow in Zurich. Except that thepublic wasnt upset - the painterswere.” Larry Rivers, Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1953 Museum of Modern Art
  • 33. Figurative Artists in the 1950s“With the success of WashingtonCrossing the Delaware Rivers was, ashe further describes in hisautobiography, “branded a rebelagainst the rebellious abstractexpressionists, which made me areactionary.”http://larryriversfoundation.org/seminal_works.html Larry Rivers, Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1953 Museum of Modern Art
  • 34. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sRivers did a number of figurativepaintings that pushed boundariesby combining drawing and painting,realism and an abstract “gestural”style.The commonplace subject matter,combined with the inexplicablenudity of the figures, made his workenigmatic Larry Rivers, Bedroom, 1955 Museum of Fine Arts Boston
  • 35. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sOne of his most shocking (andtender) paintings is his doubleportrait of his aging mother-in-law inthe nude Larry Rivers, Double Portrait of Berdie, 1955 Larry Rivers Foundation
  • 36. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sRivers also did a number of worksthat anticipated Pop Art in their useof popular imagery drawn fromadvertising Larry Rivers, Camel Quartet. Original color lithograph & screenprint, 1978-90 Image source: http://www.spaightwoodgalleries.com/Pages/POP_Art_2001.html
  • 37. Larry Rivers, Little French Money II, 1962Hirshhorn Museum
  • 38. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sIn his Dutch Masters series, hecopied the graphics on the lid of theDutch Masters cigar case whichfeatured a reproduction ofRembrandts famous painting of theSyndics of the Dutch Drapery Guild Larry Rivers, Dutch Masters Cigars, 1982 Image source: http://www.newpaltz.edu/museum/exhibitions/readingobjects/fi/0000000f.htm
  • 39. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sAnticipating “appropriation art” inthe 1980s-1990s, Rivers did manyworks that were copies of famousold master works. Larry Rivers, I Like Ingres, 1962 Hirshhorn Museum
  • 40. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sOne of his most controversial workswas I Like Olympia in Blackface,which was a three dimensionaltableau that parodied the implicitracism of Manet’s famous painting Larry Rivers, I Like Olympia in Blackface, 1970 Centre Georges-Pompidou Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ganimede1984/5748797416/
  • 41. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sAlex Katz also anticipated Pop artwith his figurative works thatemploy flat, cartoon-like drawing,and seem devoid of emotionalaffect Alex Katz, Ada Ada, 1959 Grey Art Collection, NYU
  • 42. Alex Katz, The Black Dress, 1960Brandhorst CollectionImage source: https://trufflehunting.wordpress.com/2010/06/09/life-imitates-art/
  • 43. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sIn California a group of artistsworking in an updated figural stylecame to be known as the Bay AreaFigurative School Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Image source: http://serc.carleton.edu/details/images/30962.html
  • 44. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sDavid Parks painted in a highlyabstract mode that drew heavily onGerman Expressionism David Parks, Two Bathers, 1958 SFMOMA
  • 45. David Parks, Four Men, 1958Whitney Museum
  • 46. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sRichard Diebenkorn also exploredthe fine line between realism andabstraction in figurative andlandscape works Richard Diebenkorn, Woman in Profile, 1958 SFMOMA
  • 47. Richard Diebenkorn, Cityscape I (Landscape No. 1), 1963SFMOMA
  • 48. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sIn Chicago, Leon Golub belongedto a group called the “MonsterRoster”He drew on outsider art and the artof the insane to produce torturedimages of men in a state ofpsychological crisis Leon Golub, Dying Gaul, 1955 Artnet.com
  • 49. Leon Golub, Fallen Warrior (Burnt Man), 1960Artnet.com
  • 50. Leon Golub, Gigantomachy III, 1966Image source: http://web.me.com/dianethodos/Site/Leon_Golub.html
  • 51. Leon Golub, Vietnam II, 1973Tate GalleryImage source: http://robertopozuelo.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/leon-golub-mural.jpg
  • 52. Figurative Artists inthe 1950sIn the 1980’s Golub was“rediscovered” with his series oflarge scale paintings depictingmercenaries Leon Golub, Mercenaries IV, 1984 Saatchi Collection Artnet
  • 53. Leon Golub, Interrogation II, 1981Art Institute of Chicago
  • 54. Leon Golub working on one his his mural-scaled mercenary paintingsImage source: http://roberttracyphdart477677artsince1945.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/leon-golub-and-his-mercenaries-series/