Paul Cezanne was the preeminent French artist of the Post-Impressionist eraHe studied in a small academy in Paris. (He had applied to study in the official art academy, but was rejected.) He met the Impressionist painters, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and others. His early style was the complete opposite of the official, academic style - it was rough, unrefined, comprised of thick brushstrokes and wild colour, with rather passionate, even somewhat erotic, themes. Compared with the bland, smooth brushstrokes, lofty subject matter, and muted color of the academic artists, his work was a rude shock, and perhaps meant to be so.
New ideas of painting were in the air. Courbet and EdouardManet were painting with realism and boldness of subject matter and style, in a more contemporary manner. The young student friends were soaking up these new ideas, as well as studying the masters in the Louvre, the French art museum. They did not want to paint like the academicians - they wanted to paint outside, from life, not in their studios; they wanted clear, bright color, not the browns and grays of established painters. They wanted to paint with small, visible strokes, not 'Victorian smoothness.' And, they wanted to paint modern life, not scenes of history or classical Greece. Pissarro, particularly, influenced Cezanne's way of thinking and working. He urged Cezanne to paint landscapes from nature, to discipline himself by studying the landscapes in front of him. Cezanne's undisciplined style became more steadied under Pissarro's influence; he became much more focused with his energy. His color became more subdued, with earth colors, rather than the blacks, whites, and reds of his early work. He painted with the group that was to become the Impressionists.
Even at this stage, however, his work remained somewhat different than Monet and Renoir. Their tiny strokes were rounded, soft; his were square, more blunt, more structural. While they were more interested in color and light, he was still concerned with form and structure; these differences put Cezanne in the category of Post-Impressionism, along with Gauguin, Van Gogh and others, which means that as a group they were much influenced by Impressionism, but their work moved forward from it to other artistic concerns.
In a formal (pictorial values) sense, Cezanne's great contribution was that he invented a new kind of space in painting. In the 400 years prior to the late 19th century, space in painting was Renaissance space - which was illusional space, linear perspective, trying to depict the illusion of space on a two-dimensional surface. The canvas was like a window looking out onto the real world, with parallel lines meeting at a point on the horizon line. After 1850, certain artists (Manet, for instance) began to gradually see the canvas not as a window on the world, but its own world, with its own laws. They did not want to depict space in terms of perspective, but more as a flat surface. And, rather than smoothing over the brushstrokes in order to model three dimensions in objects, they chose to paint in separate touches, or facets, of objects, not blending them together. Also, instead of the chiaroscuro (light and dark shading) from the Renaissance, they used color as much or more than value to depict volumes and space.
Cezanne carried this further by constructing the objects or landscape into a pictorial structure, or architecture, and leaving it exposed in the work. What he did was to combine both the Renaissance notion of deep space, with the modern notion of the flat surface. This combining caused his paintings to have both flatness and three-dimensional space; the forms have both volume AND flatness. This combining of two types of space also accounts for his distortions of objects and perspective; depicting the "correct" perspective would destroy the visual integrity of the flat pictorial surface/space. This new space has been much discussed in artistic circles, and is perhaps the biggest influence on modern art of the 20th century.
Cezanne ultimately came to regard colour, line, and "form" as constituting one and the same thing, or inseparable aspects for describing how the human eye actually experiences Nature.Unsatisfied with the Impressionist dictum that painting is primarily a reflection of visual perception, Cezanne sought to make of his artistic practice a new kind of analytical discipline.A huge number of 20th century artists, many of whom were its most influential, claimed a major debt to Cezanne. Modernism is often characterised by a stringent concern with formal qualities (space, color, composition, etc) that is attributed to Cezanne.Cezanne's structural facets led Picasso and Braque to Cubism. Although Cézanne made the great leap to free art from a single perspective point, he remained rooted in the nineteenth century.It was in 1907 withLes Demoiselles d'Avignon, that Picasso brought art into the twentieth century.
As the title suggests, the painting is about a brothel (Avignon was a street in Barcelona that was famous for its brothel). The painting depicts five different nude female figures representing prostitutes. Initially this picture was to be a narrative brothel scene with five prostitutes and two men – one a patron surrounded by the women and a medical student holding a skull, in the end Picasso painted out the two men and have the five prostitutes looking out at the viewer. The prostitute on the right holds back the curtains to reveal the other four prostitutes coming from or with white cloths. There is a table in the foreground with fruit on – suggesting that this show is for the viewer sitting at the table. The bodies are angular, yet suggest the female form with some smooth curves. The two women in the centre have faces that suggest Iberian masks, the other three have African mask like faces. As the canvass was around eight foot square, the whole effect is very menacing as the mask-like faces on the right are hideous. The colours used for this painting range from off-white to brown, with areas of blue in the middle. On closer inspection, the canvas is split in two down the middle by the female nude with both arms outstretched and the table in the front. In this painting, Picasso seems to portray different ideas of beauty by contrasting the hideous faces on the right to the two in the centre. By comparison the two central female nudes are more aesthetically pleasing. The two central figures also make use of cloths and drapes – a classical prop to show off the enticement of the female nude. Picasso may have modelled the middle figure on the famous Venus de Milo. Picasso describes this painting as his first “exorcism” painting.
The Cubists believed that the traditions of Western art had become exhausted and another remedy they applied to revitalize their work was to draw on the expressive energy of art from other cultures, especially African art. However, they were not interested in the true religious or social symbolism of these cultural objects, but valued them superficially for their expressive style. They viewed them as subversive elements that could be used to attack and subsequently refresh the tired tradition of Western art.
Term used to describe the fascination of early modern European artists with what was then called primitive art. This included tribal art from Africa, the South Pacific and Indonesia, as well as prehistoric and very early European art, and European folk art. Such work has had a profound impact on modern Western art. The discovery of African tribal art by Picasso around 1906 was an important influence on his painting in general, and was a major factor in leading him to Cubism. Primitivism also means the search for a simpler more basic way of life away from Western urban sophistication and social restrictions. Gauguin is credited as being the first artist to develop the idea of primitivism in art. Indeed the current exhibition at Tate Modern is titled Gauguin: Maker of Myth, reinforcing the idealism of his view of ‘the Other’. Picasso took the use of the primitive a step further than Gauguin; where Gauguin was inspired to depict ‘exotic’ lands and the ‘noble savage’, Picasso was inspired to incorporate the very spirit of ‘exotic’ artifacts into his work, regardless of subject. This is how a painting of Spanish prostitutes became the turning point in modern art. Les Demoiselles d’Avingnon is the work that marks the transition from Picasso’s realistic paintings into the revolution that was Cubism
Although the painting is seen as the first Cubist work, before beginning the Cubist phase of his painting, he spent several years exploring African art. During this time the French empire was expanding into Africa, and African artifacts were being brought back to Paris museums. This ‘scramble for Africa’ meant Europeans had had an increasing presence in the continent and were bringing artifacts back to their countries to display as exotica or ‘ethnographic artifacts’. “Neither imperialism nor colonialism is a simple act of accumulation and acquisition… Out of imperialism, notions about culture were classified, reinforced, criticised or rejected.” Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism
The common response in all societies to other cultures is to judge them in terms of the values and customs of their own familiar culture. This is ethnocentrismThe belief that one’s own group or culture is superior to all other groups or cultures.The tendency of most people to use their own way of life as a standard for judging others; now also indicates the belief, on the part of most individuals, that their race, culture, society, etc., are superior to all others
In short, Primitivism in 20th Century Art, coupled so-called tribal artifacts with modern works in order to show a correlation between the two. The status of tribal artifacts has been forced to shift and deviate from their original classification as remnants of an ancient past with anthropological definitions, to those with more modern, aesthetic definitions.Picasso first encountered forms of African art around the turn of the twentieth century when ‘exotic’ items were imported by sailors from French occupied Africa and displayed in European museums. From here on evidence of the appropriation of elements of African art can be found in Picasso’s work, and often with a patronisingprimitivist view typical of the mind set of this European avant-garde generation.
The notion of universality is a European invention. As asserted by Edward Said, Europe had only considered its own culture and its peculiar expressions as universal in contrast with the so-called indigenous cultures, considered as regional phenomena. Since the 19th century, art and culture were comprehended through a euro-centric point of view, while the claim for universality made this eurocentricity unconscious for most people.
Picasso continued to create art with ‘primitivist’ influences into the mid 20th century in works such as Woman’s Head (1909), Woman in an Armchair (1909-1910) and Negro Dancer (1937).
Braque’s approach was more analytical and would impact Picasso’s thinking when the two finally met in 1909, thanks to Apollinaire, a writer and promoter of Cubism. Picasso, the inventor of Cubism, and Apollinaire, the inventor of Surrealism, met in 1905, forged a close friendship, and between them laid the foundations of modernism in twentieth-century art and literature.
The limitations of perspective were also seen as an obstacle to progress by the Cubists. The fact that a picture drawn in perspective could only work from one viewpoint restricted their options. As the image was drawn from a fixed position, the result was frozen, like a snapshot - but the Cubists wanted to make pictures that reached beyond the rigid geometry of perspective. They wanted to introduce the idea of 'relativity' - how the artist perceived and selected elements from the subject, fusing both their observations and memories into the one concentrated image. To do this the Cubists examined the way that we see. When you look at an object your eye scans it, stopping to register on a certain detail before moving on to the next point of interest and so on. You can also change your viewpoint in relation to the object allowing you to look at it from above, below or from the side. Therefore, the Cubists proposed that your sight of an object is the sum of many different views and your memory of an object is not constructed from one angle, as in perspective, but from many angles selected by your sight and movement. Cubist painting, paradoxically abstract in form, was an attempt at a more realistic way of seeing.
The general line of argumentation among art historians is that the roots of cubism are in Paul Cézanne and primitive art. This view discounts completely how astounding developments in science, mathematics and technology contributed to the very definition of "avant-garde." It has long been known that the roots of science were never totally within science itself. Why then should the roots of the most influential art movement of the twentieth century lie totally within art? By widening our viewpoint of the origins of Picasso's Demoiselles to include science, mathematics and technology, we gain another perspective.We have previously touched upon the fact that the intellectual climate at the beginning of the twentieth century, was an era of genius unmatched since the Renaissance. Cubism can be seen to be a response to the dramatic changes sweeping across Europe like a tidal wave.At the epicenter of these enormous transformations was the debate about representation versus abstraction. In art, there was a strong countermovement to the figuration and perspective that had held center stage ever since the Renaissance, which surfaced most forcefully in the postimpressionism of Paul Cézanne. New developments in technology such as airplanes, wireless telegraphy and automobiles were altering everyone's conception of space and time.
Picasso was at the Paris World’s Fair of 1900, where he would have seen a host of early films displayed, as well as the “Serpentine Dance” of Loie Fuller, which itself became a popular subject to depict on silent reels. When he meets Georges Braque, the two find more common ground in their love for cinema than in their current artistic styles (interestingly, Braque found Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon to be offensive). As they develop the style that would come to be known as Cubism, they incorporate much of the techniques on display in the local cinema house.It is certainly fair to say that technology played a role in Picasso's development of cubism, as we see from his adroit use of photographs as models for paintings and his interest in cinematography.
The multiple images in the pioneering cinematography of Eadward Muybridge and Étienne-Jules Marey permitted change with time to be portrayed either on successive frames of film or on a single frame, in addition to depicting different perspectives on serial frames. In science the discovery of X rays seemed to render inside and outside ambiguous, the opaque became transparent and the distinction between two and three dimensions was blurred. Radioactivity, with its apparently limitless amounts of energy, seemed to prove that space is full of alpha, beta, gamma and X rays flying everywhere and opening up everything. Even more abstractly, mathematicians mused over exotic new geometries that could be represented in dimensions greater than three. People were especially fascinated by the idea of four-dimensional space, with its implication of motion in space or time.
All of this was discussed in newspapers, magazines and cafés, as well as in elegant and accessible philosophical writings…These developments and what they meant were debated among the tight group of friends known as la bandeàPicasso…Ideas were everywhere and so was the desire for change. Alongside the developments in mathematics, science and technology was the discovery of the conceptual quality of African objets d'art. All of these ideas helped Picasso to free himself from earlier modes of thinking. Everyone involved in cubism considered it a highly intellectual adventure with the specific goal of reducing forms to geometry. Picasso's exploration of space in his groundbreaking Les Demoiselles d'Avignon employed notions of four-dimensional space…the cubism of Georges Braque and Picasso dethroned perspective in art.
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Modernism in Art: an Introduction Course Content1. Salon des Refusés: Breaking with the Academy2. Flirting with controversy: Courbet and taboo in 19th-century Europe3. Introducing Subjectivity: From Impressionism to Cubism4. Picasso‟s Exorcism: fear of „Primitives‟ and „Prostitutes‟5. “Standing on the World‟s Summit”: Futurism‟s becoming…6. Revolution and Rebuilding: Constructivism, De Stijl and the Bauhaus7. Dada and Surrealism8. Reflections upon a Modern World (An Introduction to some key thinkers)9. Abstract Expressionism and the Rise of Formalism10. In Jeopardy: Idealism, Authenticity, Universality and the Avant- Garde11. Unseen assessment and credit essay workshop.
Paul Cézanne Pablo PicassoStill Life with Fruit Dish (1879–80) The Reservoir, Horta de Ebro (1909)
Cezanne’s early style was the complete opposite of the official, academic styleCezanneA Modern Olympia c. 1873-74 William- AdolpheBouguereau The Birth of Venus(1879)CezanneThe Abduction(1867)
Cezanne PissarroThe Bridge at Maincy Small Bridge (1879-80) (1875)
Monet RenoirWater-Lily Pond Lakeside Landscape (1897) (1889)
Cezannes great contribution was that heinvented a new kind of space in painting.Previously space in painting wasRenaissance space - which was illusionalspace, linear perspective, trying to depictthe illusion of space on a two-dimensionalsurface.
In Cezannes paintings, even a simple apple might display a distinctly sculptural dimension. It is as if each item of still life, landscape, or portrait had been examined not from one but several or more angles, its material properties then recombined by the artist as no mere copy, but as what Cezanne called "a harmony parallel to nature." It was this aspect of Cezannes analytical, time- Cezanne based practice that led the future Cubists to regard himApples and Oranges (1882) their true mentor.
Modern art began with Manet and the discovery of flatness as a value in painting. It reached a new clarity of purpose with Cézanne and exploded into full existence in Picassos 1907 painting Les Demoiselles dAvignonCézanne Bibemus Quarry (1895)
Landmark changesin Picasso’s work,and early signs ofAfrican influencescan be seensimultaneously inhis 1907 painting,Les Demoisellesd’Avignon where adeparture fromclassic Western artstyles is clear.PicassoLes Demoiselles dAvignon(1907)
Picassos African-influencedPeriod - 1907 to 1909Picasso Head Dan Mask of a Woman (1907)
This inspiration to cross- reference art from different cultures probably came from Paul Gauguin, the French post-impressionist artist, whose paintings and prints were influenced by the native culture of Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands where he spent his final years.Paul GauguinNave, Nave Moe (Miraculous Source) 1894
“Neither imperialism nor colonialism is a simple act ofaccumulation and acquisition… Out of imperialism, notionsabout culture were classified, reinforced, criticised orrejected.”Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism Pitt Rivers Museum
“Many people neveracknowledge how their day-to-day behaviors have beenshaped by cultural normsand values and reinforced byfamilies, peers, and socialinstitutions. How onedefines ‘family’, identifiesdesirable life goals, viewsproblems, and even sayshello are all influenced bythe culture in which onefunctions”(Cross, 1988, p.2).
Picasso first encountered formsof African art around the turn ofthe twentieth century when‘exotic’ items were imported bysailors from French occupiedAfrica and displayed in Europeanmuseums. From here onevidence of the appropriation ofelements of African art can befound in Picasso’s work, andoften with apatronisingprimitivist viewtypical of the mind set of thisEuropean avant-garde
Picasso‟s appropriation of the African mask is one example of hybridforms of expression that beg, borrow and steal from elsewhere. In doingso they raise the question about the significance of power relations indoing so. Picasso Picasso Mask from Baule Anonymous Woman with Sitting Nude in Ivory Coast artist, South Joined Hands (1908) Africa (1906)
Woman’s Head Woman in an Armchair Negro Dancer (1909) (1909-1910) (1937)
The poet Guillaume Apollinaire inPicasso’s atelier, 1910 – by Picasso
Cubism - the first style of abstract art Cubism gave rise to Abstract art, which removed the object from painting all together Braque PicassoViolin and Candlestick L’Aficionado (1910) (1912)
Picasso and Braque Go to theMovies (Dir. Arne Glimcher, 2010)proposes that:•Cubism, the revolutionaryabstract painting and collage stylepioneered by Pablo Picasso andGeorges Braque, grew out of areaction to cinema•the neutral tones anddeconstructed forms that definedCubist painting were an attemptto convey motion in the mannerof a film’s rolling celluloid
Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon(1907) The serpentine dance of Loïe Fuller (1896)
http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2005/cezannepissarro/Miller, Arthur I. Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time, and the Beauty That CausesHavoc http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/m/miller-01einstein.html
Cultural MappingPersonal Representations of Art and Art History
This exercise is meant to make you conscious ofyour own perspective and knowledge aboutModern Art.The first stage is relatively open-endedbrainstorming.The exercise helps with externalizing your ownpatterns of thought so you can, in turn, thinkabout them, make connections amongst them,and find the gaps between them.
This is taken from JamesElkin’s concept of Ideas Mapping. Here are a fewof his examples:
Here are some examples from previous students on theIntroduction to Modernism course to help get you started