Week 4 Lecture, 20th Century


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  • The rejection of the external, rational, moral, and bourgeois world shared by the Expressionists, Cubists & Dadaists has much to do with the first World War, which began in 1914 and ended in 1918 and affected the lives of many of these artists as they either fought in it (as in the case of Dix above) or became conscientious objectors and fled to Zurich (Hugo Ball) or the U.S. (Duchamp). If modernization and industrialization led to this, the machinery of warfare and mass carnage, then why not reject this cruel world and retreat into the world of play, imagination, and the metaphysical realm? Why not seek answers elsewhere by beginning again with child’s play (as in the case of Dada) or in universal theories (i.e. Kandinsky & The Blue Rider, Malevich & Suprematism, and Mondrian & Neoplasticism)?
  • Weimar Republic: -nickname given to German state from 1919-1933, named for city of Weimar where new constitution was drafted in 1919 following Germany’s defeat in WWI -it was first attempt to establish a liberal democracy in Germany, which failed with the ascent of Hitler in 1933 and the Third Reich -following WWI, Germany in a state of near chaos and violence, and depression as soldiers are returning home from war, many severely disfigured Friedrich Ebert was the Social Democratic President responsible for murders of Spartacist League, headed by Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebnicht, Marxists and socialists, who participated in Berlin revolution of 1919. She and other revolutionaries were tortured and killed. Ebert was held responsible for their murders.
  • Aesthetic vs. anti-aesthetic
  • After it was shut down in 1933, many of its teachers (including its last director, Mies van der Rohe) emigrated to the U.S. and consequently its influence is even more conspicuous in the many buildings, art and architecture schools (Mies’ IIT campus) and furniture and fixtures knockoffs
  • Max Ernst was a WWI vet (awarded medal of honor), German hero, darling boy of surrealism, ladies man, who studied art history and psychiatry at Bonn University -his influences were broad (art of the insane, as you read, 19th century storybooks, art history) and he practiced collage, painting, etc -invented two surrealist techniques, which are like automatism in their process, frottage – an image produced through rubbing; grattage – an image produced through scraping -he was such a pivotal figure in surrealism—Breton called his show in Paris in 1921, the first surrealist exhibition -he was also influenced by the dreamworld and the possibilities of a child’s imagination -Ernst had an alter-ego named Loplop, who often presents Ernsts work within the work itself. This character refers to his childhood (since children and their dreams figure prominently in his work) when he says that the death of his beloved pet bird coincided with the birth of his younger brother, creating a kind of bird man in his mythology, Loplop
  • Much of surrealist practice and revolt from the norm was dedicated to overcoming bourgeois notions of repressed and forbidden sexual desire and was therefore built on the bodies of women, including the work of Man Ray, whose images appear in the first La Revolution Surrealiste , Hans Bellmer’s specially constructed doll made of grotesquely reconstructed female body parts, and later the Belgian surrealist, Rene Magritte’s works, such as “The Rape” (castration anxiety? – the “vagina dentata”). Some surrealists fetishized the body, in fact violently attacked it at times, which could be attrib to the throngs of disfigured soldiers returning from war, or their own experiences in WWI.
  • Breton paid homage to the “surrealist” artists that preceded him in his surrealist manifesto in 1924 and in his text “Surrealism and Painting” later, citing the work of Picasso, Giorgio de Chirico, Andre Masson, Joan Miro, Max Ernst as surrealist in their technique Breton was a poet, who served in WWI as a medical orderly in a ward of shellshock patients in Paris; because of this interaction with trauma victims and because of his innate sensibility, he was swayed by psychoanalytical ideas and its emphasis on dreams and the unconscious mind He also had a love of absurdity. He had mingled with the Dadaists during their heyday, taking their anarchist tendencies even further, Breton once said that the ultimate surrealist act was to fire a gun randomly into a crowd, a statement which seems tragically relevant today and comes off in the very least, as reckless and misanthropic. Perhaps it can be attributed to this stint in the military and general disillusionment with humanity.. Breton was a force whose occasional tyrannical rule over the surrealist movement caused rifts and the movement’s eventual dissolution, he was dubbed the “Pope” of surrealism because of this near despotic rule.
  • Grosz, an avowed Communist and supporter of the working class, was a painter, illustrator and caricaturist whose obvious disdain for the German bourgeoisie is revealed heree . He documented the rise of fascism in Germany until forced into exile by Hitler and ended up in US teaching in New York and influenced a younger generation of artists (Bearden et al). He didn’t return to Germany until 1954.
  • Week 4 Lecture, 20th Century

    1. 1. History of 20 th Century Art Week 4 1920 - 1929
    2. 2. World War I 1914-1918 Stormtroops Advancing Under Gas etching and aquatint by Otto Dix, 1924 Battle of the Somme , Soldier Carrying Casualty, 1916 <ul><li>Trench & mechanized warfare </li></ul><ul><li>More than 9 million deaths </li></ul>
    3. 3. 1920: “Art is Dead!” - Dada Fair held in Berlin <ul><li>Dada Berlin formed as attack on bourgeois German society </li></ul><ul><li>Politically mobilized & aligned with the Communist party which was found in Germany in 1919 </li></ul><ul><li>Shared distaste for earlier 20 th century avant-garde movements (Expressionism & spirituality, Cubism’s emphasis on aesthetics, Futurism & typography) , though influenced by them </li></ul><ul><li>Revolutionized exhibition practice by having a fair (“a parody of the display of commodities”) </li></ul><ul><li>Photomontage emerges as a major strategy to deconstruct the image & dismantle Weimar consumer culture (driven by commodity images and advertizing) </li></ul>Hoch and Haussman Dummy with a pig’s head dressed as German officer
    4. 4. Hannah Hoch <ul><li>The “It Girl” of a circle of male artists in Berlin Dada </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrates major tenets of Berlin Dada (anti-aesthetic, illogical, non-hierarchical, politically driven and left wing) </li></ul><ul><li>Images clipped and collaged together with no apparent formal logic </li></ul><ul><li>Grotesque juxtapositions, distortions of scale </li></ul><ul><li>To disrupt and make illegible mass-produced images & texts (magazines, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Inventory of major German figures (Einstein, Friedrich Ebert, Kathe Kollwitz (a German Expressionist artist), Marx, Lenin) with Dada sayings written throughout (“Dada is not an art trend”) </li></ul><ul><li>Major Berlin Dadaists in lower right quadrant, including Hoch above map of European countries where women can vote </li></ul>Hannah Hoch, Cut with a Kitchen Knife through the Beer Belly of the Weimar Republic , 1919 “ ..from an iconically rendered narrative to a purely structural deployment of textual material” – Art Since 1900
    5. 5. Cubist Collage vs. Dada Photomontage Picasso, Glass and Bottle of Suze , 1912 Hannah Hoch, Cut with a Kitchen Knife through the Beer Belly of the Weimar Republic , 1919
    6. 6. John Heartfield – A New Logic of Photomontage <ul><li>Also a Berlin Dadaist </li></ul><ul><li>Anglicized his German name to protest German nationalism and anti-British sentiment during WWI </li></ul><ul><li>Designer for AIZ (widely circulated Communist publication); images protested against emerging fascist movements (particularly in Germany before Hitler elected Chancellor) </li></ul><ul><li>Developed more direct, aesthetically cohesive photomontage technique through airbrushing (vs. chaotic early photomontage) </li></ul><ul><li>As “communicative action” ( toward just democracies and seeking emancipation from authoritative political systems) </li></ul><ul><li>To appeal to working class, to mobilize </li></ul><ul><li>Anonymous “fat cat” behind him, mocking the Nazi salute as a plea for cash (Nazism funded by big business to defeat a Communist proletarian revolution) </li></ul>Heartfield, The Meaning of the Hitler Salute: Little Man Asks for Big Gifts. Motto: Millions Stand Behind Me! , from AIZ , No. 26, 1932
    7. 7. Dada in Film <ul><li>Entr’acte </li></ul><ul><li>1924 </li></ul><ul><li>By Rene Clair </li></ul><ul><li>http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v =1G39B3ECZGA&feature=related </li></ul>
    8. 8. 1923 – The Bauhaus holds first public exhibition in Weimar Germany <ul><li>Like Berlin Dada, the Bauhaus begin with the Weimar Republic in 1919 and ended with it, in 1933 when Hitler shut it down </li></ul><ul><li>Inspired by Arts & Crafts movement around turn of the century (creative collab. between art & industry) </li></ul><ul><li>To unite fine & applied arts ( gesamtkunstwerk) </li></ul><ul><li>Socialist and humanitarian organization; championed the worker </li></ul><ul><li>Walter Gropius its first director </li></ul><ul><li>Viewed the Gothic cathedral as a precedent and metaphor </li></ul><ul><li>To rebuild the world after it had been destroyed by war? </li></ul>Together let us desire, conceive and create the new structure of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity, and which will one day rise toward heaven from the hands of a million workers like the crystal symbol of a new faith. – Gropius, Bauhaus manifesto, 1919 Ruins of Cathedral of St. Quentin, France, 1918 Lyonel Feininger Cathedral of the Future 1919, woodcut
    9. 9. Kurt Schwitters Merzbau: The Cathedral of Erotic Misery 1923- <ul><li>Hannover, Germany </li></ul>&quot;Becoming absorbed in art is like going to church.&quot;
    10. 10. Bauhaus – 1919 - 1922 <ul><li>Focused on fundamentals of materials (natural) and arts & crafts </li></ul><ul><li>Two parts to curriculum: 1) instruction in craft workshops, led by “workshop masters” (sculpture, carpentry, metal, pottery, weaving, etc); 2) instruction in artistic “form problems,” led by “form masters,” (Paul Klee, Kandinsky, Itten) </li></ul><ul><li>Early Form Masters (e.g. Itten, who taught Vorkers course) examined the mystical qualities of natural forms, the psychology of color, and used Old Master works as models </li></ul>Johannes Itten, The Beginning , 1916 Paul Klee Angelus Novus 1920
    11. 11. Bauhaus – 1923 on – From Medievalist to Industrialist <ul><li>Laszlo Maholy-Nagy takes over Vorkers course; school transformed into a Constructivist model which embraced new media and industrial technologies </li></ul><ul><li>Maholy-Nagy self-taught, made photomontages and kinetic metal constructions with made-to-order parts </li></ul><ul><li>To align art & industry; goal of functional, inexpensive, and beautifully designed products </li></ul><ul><li>Made manifest in move to industrial city of Dessau where transformed to an “institute of design” </li></ul>Walter Gropius, Bauhaus (exterior ), 1925-26 http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v =nVnF9A3azSA&feature=related Lazlo Maholy-Nagy, Light-Space Modulator , 1930
    12. 12. The Bauhaus Today Marianne Brandt, Kandem table lamp for Korting & Mathiesen, 1928 IKEA Forsa lamp Mies van der Rohe, 860-880 Lakeshore Drive, 1948-51, Chicago
    13. 13. 1924 – Andre Breton publishes first issue of La Revolution Surrealiste <ul><li>Longest lasting artistic revolution in the 20th century, from 1920s-60s </li></ul><ul><li>To invest everything in ordinary outer life with poetry of the inner life, to make the ordinary extraordinary </li></ul><ul><li>Engaged in a study of how the unconscious mind could be used to affect reality </li></ul><ul><li>Founded Bureau of Surrealist Research in 1924; manifesto issued same year </li></ul>Surrealism proposes a gathering of the greatest possible number of experimental elements, for a purpose that cannot yet be perceived. All those who have the means to contribute…are urgently requested to come forward: let them shine the light on the genesis of invention, or propose a new system of psychic investigation or freely criticize morality or simply entrust us with their most curious dreams. – Bureau statement to press Man Ray, Waking Dream Séance , 1924
    14. 14. The Circle of Influence <ul><li>Movement self-consciously rooted in history (art, literature, etc); Raphael & Dostoevsky pictured above </li></ul><ul><li>Also looked to non-traditional art forms (popular imagery, art of the insane – Hans Prinzhorn published Artistry of the Mentally Ill in 1922) </li></ul><ul><li>Indebted to Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams and in exploring subconscious desires, however immoral, and the landscape of the mind </li></ul><ul><li>Games and techniques for accessing the subconscious (automatism, frottage, fumage, etc) </li></ul>Poe is Surrealist in adventure. Baudelaire is Surrealist in morality. Rimbaud is Surrealist in the way he lived, and elsewhere. Mallarmé is Surrealist when he is confiding. Jarry is Surrealist in absinthe. Nouveau is Surrealist in the kiss. -From Breton’s Manifesto of Surrealism , 1924 Max Ernst, A Friends’ Reunion , 1922
    15. 15. The Exquisite Corpse <ul><li>Take one sheet of paper and mark it off in 4-5 equal sections. </li></ul><ul><li>You must decide beforehand the &quot;rule&quot; or order of types of words that will dictate each person's participation (i.e. Noun, verb, adjective, noun, adverb, preposition, etc.). </li></ul><ul><li>You will then pass the sheet of paper from person to person. Without letting others see what he/she is writing, each person will write down a word according to the rule, then fold over the paper so the person who follows cannot see what they're writing. </li></ul><ul><li>When you’re finished, each group will look at what they have collectively written, and discuss what the implications are and what significance this game has for the intentions of Surrealists. </li></ul><ul><li>At the end of the exercise, I'll ask each group to read the &quot;sentence&quot; they've created and to share their ideas </li></ul>Yves Tanguy, Joan Miro et al, Exquisite Corpse , 1928 Surrealism. n.: Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express – verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner – the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern. - Manifesto of Surrealism , 1924
    16. 16. Art & Automatism <ul><li>Ernst called this “collage painting” most important contribution to surrealism </li></ul><ul><li>Recalls fever-vision or hallucination of a bird in wood grain next to childhood bed </li></ul><ul><li>Nightingale represents ominous presence or even death </li></ul><ul><li>Faceless man (abducting child?) reaches for doorknob attached to frame (where does it lead?) </li></ul><ul><li>Miro’s work shows a biomorphic automatism </li></ul><ul><li>Suggests organic forms (people kissing) but introduces decorative abstraction </li></ul>Ernst, Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale 1924 Joan Miro, The Kiss , 1924
    17. 17. The Hundred Headless Woman Max Ernst, Elephant Celebes (detail), 1921 Man Ray, Untitled (published in “La Revolution Surrealiste”) , 1924 Rene Magritte, Le Viol , 1934 Hans Bellmer, La Poupee , ca. 1935 http:// video.google.com/videoplay?docid =7633509394552540790# L’Age d’Or 1930 Luis Bunuel
    18. 18. Surrealism & The Uncanny <ul><li>Breton discovered this in a Parisian flea market (found object) </li></ul><ul><li>Recognized it as a fulfillment of an automatic idea he was thinking of cendrier Cendrillon (Cinderella ashtray) </li></ul><ul><li>The spoon infinitely redoubles itself (spoon is a slipper with a slipper for a heel and so on) </li></ul><ul><li>Represents “objective chance” that triggers a desire or something already known to the person who discovers it (to Breton, this desire was for love) </li></ul><ul><li>An extraordinary, strange or mysterious experience (the uncanny) </li></ul>“… beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table” – Lautreamont, 19 th century Breton, Slipper-Spoon , 1934
    19. 19. 1925 – New Objectivity in Weimar Germany <ul><li>First exhibition of these new “magical realists” in 1925 </li></ul><ul><li>Organized by Hartlaub, the curator, who observed a return to figuration </li></ul><ul><li>Signals end of German Expressionism & Dada </li></ul><ul><li>Reflects political turmoil, social disorganization and disillusionment in early years of Weimar Republic </li></ul><ul><li>Chronicled rise of fascism & corrupt ruling class in Germany (Grosz) </li></ul><ul><li>Captured thriving artist bohemian society (Schad) </li></ul><ul><li>Hartlaub recognized a tension between old world classicism ( Ingrismus - seen in Picasso’s work) and Verismus (realism) in the above artists’ works </li></ul><ul><li>Here all members of military, church and state are corrupt & grotesquely rendered </li></ul><ul><li>Borrow from Dadaist collage aesthetic combined with painterly objectivity </li></ul>George Grosz, Pillars of Society , 1926 I drew and painted from a spirit of contradiction, and attempted in my work to convince the world that this world is ugly, sick and mendacious’ - Grosz, 1924 Nazi officer w/ apocalyptic scene coming from head Politician with steaming pile of feces Priest blessing the army
    20. 20. Max Beckmann <ul><li>Scene of ruthless torture at end of WWI </li></ul><ul><li>Expressionist angularity & compressed space adds to sense of aggression and violence </li></ul><ul><li>German revolutionary on far right revealing/concealing scene </li></ul><ul><li>Grosz & Beckmann both German soldiers in WWI; later turned against war </li></ul><ul><li>Would later be dubbed a Degenerate Artist & forced to flee (first to Amsterdam, then St. Louis) </li></ul>Beckmann, Night , 1918-19 Beckmann Self-Portrait in Tuxedo 1927
    21. 21. Weimar Bohemians What we are showing is that art is still there…it is alive despite a cultural situation that seems hostile to the essence of art as other epochs have rarely been…thus artists disillusioned, sobered, often resigned to the point of cynicism having nearly given up on themselves after a moment of unbounded, nearly apocalyptic hope….have begun to ponder what is most immediate, certain, and durable: truth and craft. – Hartlaub, exhibition statement Christian Schad, Self-Portrait , 1927 Schad, Agosta &quot;the Winged One&quot; and Rasha &quot;the Black Dove” , 1929
    22. 22. Modernist Sculpture Constantin Brancusi Self-Portrait , 1933-34 Brancusi, The Kiss , 1916 Auguste Rodin, The Kiss , 1889 Nothing can grow under the shade of big trees. – Brancusi on Rodin
    23. 23. 1927 – Brancusi on Trial: “It’s a Bird!” <ul><li>Brancusi vs. U.S. (Oct. 1927) </li></ul><ul><li>Customs officer (also an amateur artist) rejected Steichen’s classification of sculpture as art & charged import duty (called ‘kitchen utensil’) </li></ul><ul><li>Based on previous decision that declared that art must resemble its subject </li></ul><ul><li>Decision appealed and it went to trial (Brancusi did not attend) </li></ul><ul><li>Brancusi’s friends called to testify on his behalf, including a lawyer collector who had secured duty-free imports on art </li></ul><ul><li>After debate as to the nature of art (is it beautiful?), the name of the sculpture (pictorial nominalism) and how it should affect viewer (emotionally), the judge ruled in Brancusi’s favor </li></ul>The object now under consideration ... is beautiful and symmetrical in outline, and while some difficulty might be encountered in associating it with a bird, it is nevertheless pleasing to look at and highly ornamental, and as we hold under the evidence that it is the original production of a professional sculptor and is in fact a piece of sculpture and a work of art according to the authorities above referred to, we sustain the protest and find that it is entitled to free entry. - Judge Waite Brancusi, Bird in Space , 1928 Brancusi, Princess X , 1915-16
    24. 24. 1927 - Meanwhile, Across the Atlantic… <ul><li>American artists inspired by “machine aesthetic”, particularly Charles Sheeler & Ford Motors </li></ul><ul><li>Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) opens in 1929 to showcase modernist art in Europe </li></ul><ul><li>Traced lineage to Post-Impressionism (Cezanne, etc) & Cubism </li></ul><ul><li>Alfred Barr hired as first director; school in radical European modernism (DeStijl, Bauhaus, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>MoMA’s exhibitions became the standard for modern art museums (focus on painting & sculpture, isolating the works on pristine white walls) </li></ul>Diagram of modern art movements 1890-1935, 1935
    25. 25. Precisionism <ul><li>Seems to support Duchamp’s statement that America’s greatest works are “her plumbing and her bridges” </li></ul><ul><li>NYC as beacon of new industrial age </li></ul><ul><li>Celebration of American industry (Five panels from L to R: The Port, The White Way I (Manhattan avenues) , The Prow (skyscrapers), The White Way II (Broadway), The Bridge (Brooklyn Bridge) </li></ul><ul><li>Formatted as altarpiece to suggest industry as new religion? </li></ul><ul><li>Combines Cubist and Futurist aesthetics </li></ul>Joseph Stella , Voice of the City: New York Interpreted , 1920-22, 7+ ft. tall
    26. 26. Charles Sheeler <ul><li>Received commission to photograph River Rouge Plant for Ford Motors outside of Detroit </li></ul><ul><li>23 buildings and 93 miles of track </li></ul><ul><li>Made series of photos, then paintings inspired by them </li></ul><ul><li>Completed 32 official photos, 9 of which published in magazines including Vanity Fair </li></ul><ul><li>One had caption “an American altar of the God-Objective of Mass Production” </li></ul><ul><li>Portrays industry as divinely ordained and in harmony with nature </li></ul><ul><li>Anonymously controlled model of efficiency </li></ul>Charles Sheeler, American Landscape , 1930 man nearly absent Smoke merges with clouds Plant reflected in river
    27. 27. The Course of Empire Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Desolation , 1835 Yves Marchand, Romain Meffre, The Ruins of Detroit , 2010
    28. 28. Georgia O’Keeffe <ul><li>O’Keeffe would begin working in this Precisionist fashion when living in NYC </li></ul><ul><li>Abandoned it when left for American Southwest </li></ul><ul><li>Applied modernist formal concerns (abstraction, reduction, cropping) to organic naturalism </li></ul><ul><li>Feminizes the masculine Precisionist view of the city? </li></ul>Alfred Stieglitz Georgia O’Keeffe 1918 Georgia O’Keeffe, Black Iris III , 1926