Historical Periods Presentation:
MTE/534 – Curriculum Constructs and Assessments:
Visual and Performing Arts
Melissa Earle, Siobhan Eith, Kasie, April Wells
Dr. Cassaundra Singleton
March 28th, 2016
Modern Period Introduction
This presentation will discuss important historical events from the Modern Period. The
term “modern” was created in the 16th century to signify recent or present times (Baker,
1987). Some major events of this era include World War I (1914-1918), World War II
(1939-1945), and “Modernism” (the movement experimented with a large amount of new
approaches). Topics that are featured in the presentation include visual arts, drama, music,
and dance. Each section will discuss the defining characteristics, significant artists, relevant
timeframe, the origin of the movement, and how society was involved.
Modern Period Visual Arts
Prior to the 19th century, many artists were hired by wealthy patrons or
churches to create artwork. Because of this, many of the works of art depicted
religious themes or mythological scenes. Visual art was intended to instruct the
audience rather than entertain them. With the turn of the 19th century, many
artist made the switch to depict the people, places, and ideas that interested
them as an individual. They also began to explore dreams and symbolism as a
day to depict their own experiences. It was also during this time that artists
really began to experiment with photography and the use of non-traditional
• Depicted people, places, and ideas that the artist was interested in
• Exploration of symbolism and dreams
• Expressive use of color
• Experimentation with different materials
• Use of new techniques an mediums (such as photography)
• Eugène Atget
• Hippolyte Blancard
• Paul Cézanne
• Robert Delaunay
• Vincent van Gogh
• Hector Guimard
• Raoul François Larche
• Jacques-Henri Lartigue
• Henri Matisse
• Edvard Munch
• Pablo Picasso
• Georges-Pierre Seurat
• Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
• Édouard Vuillard
• 1899- Sigmund Fraud publishes the interpretation of dreams influencing a
new subject matter for artists
• Late 19th century artists work to depict not only every day life but also the
emotional and psychological stresses one may experience
• End of 19th century graphic design and advertising was born
• Early 1900s the emergence of the modern city creating innovations in
transportation and massive migrations of people
• During the 20th century, photographs became more accessible
Where Movements Originated
The switch in visual art truly started
to change during the time of the
industrial revolution, where the
advancement in technology,
manufacturing, and transportation
were at the forefront. Even though
this took place all around the world,
France was the country that seemed
to have changed the most rapidly,
especially in Paris.
How Society Was Involved
Society played a major role in the change in visual art. With the development of
better technology, new types of mediums and methods (such as paint in a tube)
of creating art came about. The increased transportation made it easier for
artist to get around to paint the people and places around them. Also, society
itself became an important part because now they were the subject for artists to
focus on in order to create great works of art. With the increased ease of
creating visual art, artists were able to duplicate their works over and over again.
With this the age of advertising was born with artists creating posters and
flyers for cabarets, art salons, music concerts, and readings.
Modern Period Drama
The modern period and its drama were shaped by world-changing forces, such as
industrial-technological revolution, democratic revolutions, and an intellectual
revolution that would disrupt earlier conceptions of time, space, the divine, human
psychology, and social order (Cohen, 2016). This brought on the realism and
symbolism movement within the theatre group. This is where themes and feelings
where brought into the theatre life as a way of expressing ones self also known as
today’s modern play and musical theatre.
• Real-life environments
• Real-time dramatic plots
• Use of creativity, to disrupt, question, challenge, and cause change in society
and especially its political systems.
Significant Types of Modern Drama
• French Avant-Garde
• 1916 – Bernard Shaw’s – Pygmalion
• 1910 – Bernard Shaw’s – The Dark Lady of
• 1905 – Bernard Shaw – Major Barbara
• 1899 – by George Bernard Shaw – Caesar
• 1894 – Bernard Shaw's – Arms and the Man
• 1894 – Bernard Shaw – Mrs. Warren's
• 19th Century drama introduced – Oscar Wilde
– An Ideal Husband
Oscar Wilde – The Importance of Being
Bernard Shaw – Misalliance
• 18th Century or Enlightenment drama is
introduced as “The Beggar's Opera,” The
inspiration for the 20th-century Brecht/Weill
Three penny Opera, this play is a mock opera
which satirizes the British upper class.
• 17th Century – Dom Juan, ou Le Festin de
Pierre, Restoration Drama is introduced.
Where Movements Originated
Within the many revolutions in Europe in the 19th century, artists gave voice to
the personal, changing opposition to the status quo, and in post-World War I,
O'Neill, the father of American drama, would restate the tensions of the past
and keep current with the political turmoil of the present--from experiments
with socialism in America. (Narey, n.d.). The sudden arise of the reactionary
feelings and dealings gave rise to the McCarthy era and the House on Un-
American Activities Committee, with such figures as Miller giving us The
Crucible, a modern drama on the puritanical witch trials of Salem and 17th
century America (Narey, n.d.).
How Society Was Involved
Society insists on a greater understanding of all things pertinent to modern humanity
and its relationships to religion, societal order, psychology in order to appreciate its
message; however, we critically acknowledge that most of us remain ignorant to all the
former (Narey, n.d.). Thus, the drama instructs, irritates, challenges, and begs for
intelligence in order to gain from its message (Narey, n.d.). It remains didactic,
combined with pleasure, but always wishing to challenge the current notions of
authority (Narey, n.d.).
Modern Period Music
Modern Period music has evolved in many different ways. The most common element
among the various types of Modern music is the element of experimentation. The
Modern Era of music was created form the late Romantic and Impressionist periods as a
result of experimental efforts of composers such as Richard Strauss, Maurice Ravel, and
Claude Debussy. Even though some composers of the Modern Era of music continually
used traditional harmonies that were developed during the Romantic Period, many other
Modern Era composers experimented with new, unusual harmonies.
• Sounds were more unconventional
• Percussion became more important because
unusual instruments like bicycle horns and
typewriters were used (Kamien, 2002).
• There was controversy with sounds that
were unfamiliar, disturbing, or fantasy-like.
• Technology changes were included into
Music from the Modern Period was
inspired by the Big Band and
Rockabilly genre. Music trends
introduced in the
Modern Period includes:
* Rhythm and Blues *Funk
* Jazz *Rap
*Motown *Rock and Roll
Significant artists include:
*Scott Joplin *Aretha Franklin
*Frank Sinatra *Led Zeppelin
*The Beatles *Duke Ellington
*Elvis Presley *The Sugarhill Gang
*Claude Debussy *Igor Stravinsky
*Aaron Copland *Sergei Prokofiev
• 1900 – Buddy Bolden invents jazz.
• 1902 – Claude Debussy introduces impressionism to
• 1904 – The London Symphony Orchestra is
• 1910 – Igor Stravinsky completes The Firebird for
Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Stravinsky will
become one of the greatest composers of the 20th
• 1933 – Laurens Hammond introduces his
• 1936 – Electric guitar debuts.
• 1956 – Elvis Presley emerges as one of the world’s first
• 1963 – A wave of Beatlemania (The Beatles) hits the
U.K. The Rolling Stones emerge as the anti-Beatles.
• 1964 – Bob Dylan becomes popular with his “Folk”
• 1973 – Reggae music becomes popular
• 1977 – Saturday Night Fever sparks the disco inferno.
• 1978 – Sony introduces the Walkman, the first portable
• 2003 – Apple Computer introduces Apple iTunes Music
Store, which allows people to download songs for 99
Where Movements Originated
The Modern Era of music evolved from
the late Romantic and Impressionist
periods as a result of the experimental
efforts of such composers as Claude
Debussy, and Richard Strauss (Kamien,
How Society Was Involved
Music has now become a big part of society, because of radio broadcasts, recordings, and
access to music that can be played in homes. At the beginning of the Modern Period, these
new styles of music were not accepted by people, so music was mostly performed by
composers at concerts. Women also became more active in music as virtuoso soloists, and
educators. While men were in wars, women joined the orchestras as conductors and players.
Today, American universities and colleges are now expanding music by educating students.
In fact, these universities, colleges are now what the nobility and churches were in the past.
Modern Period Dance
The modern period of dance began in the late 1800’s and ended in the mid 20th
century. After the early 1960’s, the next era was known as Post Modern Dance.
Modern dance had three distinct periods known as Early Modern, Central
Modern, and Late Modern, which will be explained in more detail later in the
presentation.(Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 2012). It evolved with
experimenting with new ways to move the body, including movement of the
torso, which had not been done before, older dance movements were more like
the waltz and had steps with more “stiff ” movements. Ballet was also more
about structured steps, unlike modern dance.
• Encourages dancers to use emotions in dance
• Rejecting the strict structure of ballet
• A more “free style” of dancing
• More bodily movement, bending at torso
• Dancing barefoot as opposed to ballet shoes
• Using gravity, not always light on their feet like in ballet
(graphic from shutterstock.com).
There were many artists from Europe and America that basically created
modern dance. Many of the American artists/dancers performed and taught in
Europe. Familiar names in modern dance are: Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller,
Ted Shawn, Martha Graham, Katherine Dunham, Lester Horton, Charles
Weidman, Jose Limon, Pearl Primus, Anna Sokolow, Anna Halprin, and Paul
(Pictures from google images).
Relevant Timeframe for Modern Dance
• 1880-1923: Known as the Early Modern Period. Known as “New Dance or Free
Dance and Romanticism”. Isadora Duncan is from this period.
• 1923-1946: Known as the Central Modern Period. Many wanted to find the
American way of moving. Martha Graham is from this period.
• 1946-1960: Known as the Late Modern Period. Led into the Post Modern and
Contemporary Dance periods. Jose Limon and Paul Taylor are from this period.
Origination of Modern Dance
Modern dance originated in Europe and the United States in the late 19th
century. It evolved from the strict structure of ballet and the Impressionist
Historical Events of the Time, and How
Society was Involved. Arts were interrelated.
Major events included WWI and WWII, the stock market crash in 1929, and The
Great Depression. Many were looking for new and modern ways to express
themselves or new ways to be entertained. During the modern period, music, dance,
drama, and even visual art was changing. Society wanted to be entertained and looked
for more upbeat and fun ways to be entertained due to what was going on in the world
around them. In music, jazz, the blues, swing motown, and rockabilly evolved during
this time. Dance also evolved and became more freestyle and not as rigid as in the
past. Plays included new modern dance along with music of the time. Visual art was
becoming more daring and “provocative” at the time. The world was changing in a
huge way and the arts were evolving with those changes.
• Baker, H.A. (1987). Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance. Chicago, IL:
University of Chicago Press.
• Kamien, R. (2002). Music: An appreciation. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
• Beginnings of Modern Dance. (2012). Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia
Retrieved from www.google.com
• www.infoplease.com History of Modern Dance (2010). Retrieved on March 25th,
• Cohen, T. (2016). Theatre: Brief Version. Retrieved from
• MoMA Learning. (2016). What is Modern Art?. Retrieved from
• Narey, W. (n.d.) Modern and Contemporary Drama: ENG 3433 Retrieved from