Week 4 Lecture


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  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

    1. 1. Raoul Hausmann, Mechanical Head (Spirit of the Age,) 1920 mixed media (tape measure, ruler, wallet, watch, tin cup, etc) History of 20th Century Art 1920 - 1929
    2. 2. 1920: “Art is Dead!” - Dada Fair held in Berlin • Dada Berlin formed as attack on bourgeois German society • Politically mobilized & aligned with the Communist party which was found in Germany in 1919 • Shared distaste for earlier 20th century avant-garde movements (Expressionism & spirituality, Cubism’s emphasis on aesthetics, Futurism & typography) , though influenced by them • Revolutionized exhibition practice by having a fair (“a parody of the display of commodities”) • Photomontage emerges as a major strategy to deconstruct the image & dismantle Weimar consumer culture (driven by commodity images and advertizing) Hoch and Haussman Dummy with a pig’s head dressed as German officer
    3. 3. Hannah Hoch • The “It Girl” of a circle of male artists in Berlin Dada • Demonstrates major tenets of Berlin Dada (anti-aesthetic, illogical, non- hierarchical, politically driven and left wing) • Images clipped and collaged together with no apparent formal logic • Grotesque juxtapositions, distortions of scale • To disrupt and make illegible mass- produced images & texts (magazines, etc) • 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”) • Major Berlin Dadaists in lower right quadrant, including Hoch above map of European countries where women can vote 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
    4. 4. 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
    5. 5. Heartfield, The Meaning of the Hitler Salute: Little Man Asks for Big Gifts. Motto: Millions Stand Behind Me!, from AIZ, No. 26, 1932
    6. 6. John Heartfield – A New Logic of Photomontage • Also a Berlin Dadaist • Anglicized his German name to protest German nationalism and anti-British sentiment during WWI • Designer for AIZ (widely circulated Communist publication); images protested against emerging fascist movements (particularly in Germany before Hitler elected Chancellor) • Developed more direct, aesthetically cohesive photomontage technique through airbrushing (vs. chaotic early photomontage) • As “communicative action” (toward just democracies and seeking emancipation from authoritative political systems) • To appeal to working class, to mobilize • 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) 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. Gustav Klutsis, Let us Fulfill the Plan of the Great Projects 1930, lithograph poster • Photomontage for Russian voting poster • Reads “Fulfilled plan, Great work” • Hand represents the collective/mass subject • Emphasis on the worker and laborer in Communist Russia and their political participation in the electoral process • Socialist propaganda in wake of October 1917 Russian Revolution and overthrow of the monarchy
    8. 8. Dada in Film Entr’acte 1924 By Rene Clair http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnXdYxvBHf8
    9. 9. 1923 – The Bauhaus holds first public exhibition in Weimar Germany • Like Berlin Dada, the Bauhaus begin with the Weimar Republic in 1919 and ended with it, in 1933 when Hitler shut it down • Inspired by Arts & Crafts movement around turn of the century (creative collab. between art & industry) • To unite fine & applied arts (gesamtkunstwerk) • Socialist and humanitarian organization; championed the worker • Walter Gropius its first director • Viewed the Gothic cathedral as a precedent and metaphor • To rebuild the world after it had been destroyed by war? 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
    10. 10. Kurt Schwitters Merzbau: The Cathedral of Erotic Misery 1923- Hannover, Germany "Becoming absorbed in art is like going to church."
    11. 11. Bauhaus – 1919 - 1922 • Focused on fundamentals of materials (natural) and arts & crafts • 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) • 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 Johannes Itten, The Beginning, 1916 Paul Klee Angelus Novus 1920
    12. 12. Bauhaus – 1923 on – From Medievalist to Industrialist • Laszlo Maholy-Nagy takes over Vorkers course; school transformed into a Constructivist model which embraced new media and industrial technologies • Maholy-Nagy self-taught, made photomontages and kinetic metal constructions with made-to-order parts • To align art & industry; goal of functional, inexpensive, and beautifully designed products • Made manifest in move to industrial city of Dessau where transformed to an “institute of design” Walter Gropius, Bauhaus (exterior), 1925-26 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVnF9A3azSA&feature=related LazloMaholy-Nagy,Light-SpaceModulator,1930
    13. 13. 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
    14. 14. 1924 – Andre Breton publishes first issue of La Revolution Surrealiste • Longest lasting artistic revolution in the 20th century, from 1920s-60s • To invest everything in ordinary outer life with poetry of the inner life, to make the ordinary extraordinary • Engaged in a study of how the unconscious mind could be used to affect reality • Founded Bureau of Surrealist Research in 1924; manifesto issued same year 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
    15. 15. The Circle of Influence • Movement self-consciously rooted in history (art, literature, etc); Raphael & Dostoevsky pictured above • Also looked to non-traditional art forms (popular imagery, art of the insane – Hans Prinzhorn published Artistry of the Mentally Ill in 1922) • Indebted to Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams and in exploring subconscious desires, however immoral, and the landscape of the mind • Games and techniques for accessing the subconscious (automatism, frottage, fumage, etc) 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
    16. 16. Giorgio de Chirico The Child’s Brain 1914, oil on canvas
    17. 17. Ernst, Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale 1924 "First contact with hallucination. Measles. Fear of death and the annihilating powers. A fever-vision provoked by an imitation mahogany pane opposite his head, the grooves of the wood taking successfully the aspect of an eye, a nose, a bird's head, a menacing nightingale, a spinning top, and so on. Certainly little Max took pleasure in being afraid of these visions, and later delivered himself voluntarily to provoke hallucinations of the same kind in looking obstinately at wood panels, clouds, wallpapers, unplastered walls, and so on." - Ernst in his diaries
    18. 18. Surrealist Automatism • Ernst called this “collage painting” most important contribution to surrealism • Recalls fever-vision or hallucination of a bird in wood grain next to childhood bed while sick as a child • Recalls death of younger sister when Ernst was 6yrs. old • Nightingale represents ominous presence (death) or hope? • Faceless man (abducting child?) reaches for doorknob attached to frame (where does it lead?) • Miro’s work shows a biomorphic automatism • Suggests organic forms (people kissing) but introduces decorative abstraction Ernst, Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale 1924 Joan Miro, The Kiss, 1924
    19. 19. Surrealism , Objective Chance & Doubling: The “Marvelous” • Introduced in Breton’s autobiographical novels, here L’amour fou (Mad Love) • Breton discovered this in a Parisian flea market (found object) • Recognized it as a fulfillment of an automatic idea he was thinking of cendrier Cendrillon (Cinderella ashtray) & a poem he had written 10 yrs. earlier (a premonition?) • The spoon infinitely redoubles itself (spoon is a slipper with a slipper for a heel and so on) • Represents “objective chance” that triggers a desire or something already subconsciously known to the person who discovers it (to Breton, this desire was for love) • Discovery of the object is a fulfillment of that desire • Could be read as a metaphor for a woman (the shoe, the spoon as womb) “…beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table” – Lautreamont, 19th century Breton, Slipper-Spoon, 1934
    20. 20. 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 How do representations of the female form fulfill surrealist aims? Doubling & redoubling – an extension of the fated sign in “objective chance” & related to Freud’s compulsion to repeat driven by unconscious drives. The doubled image expresses that desire. Photographic tricks like the double negative are well-suited for these ideas. “The uncanny” – doll or automaton as ghost of the living body (a double)
    21. 21. Rene Magritte & doubling Rene Magritte, The Human Condition, 1933 oil on canvas • Belgian painter and commercial artist • Often combines images with text • Examines arbitrary nature of words as signs (“language game”) • Illusory nature of images & language • Simulacrum (Foucault) • What is the real landscape? Is it all a series of images with no origin?
    22. 22. George Grosz, Pillars of Society, 1926
    23. 23. 1925 – New Objectivity in Weimar Germany • First exhibition of these new “magical realists” in 1925 • Organized by Hartlaub, the curator, who observed a return to figuration • Signals end of German Expressionism & Dada • Reflects political turmoil, social disorganization and disillusionment in early years of Weimar Republic • Chronicled rise of fascism & corrupt ruling class in Germany (Grosz) • Captured thriving artist bohemian society (Schad) • Hartlaub recognized a tension between old world classicism (Ingrismus - seen in Picasso’s work) and Verismus (realism) in the above artists’ works • Here all members of military, church and state are corrupt & grotesquely rendered • Borrow from Dadaist collage aesthetic combined with painterly objectivity 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
    24. 24. Beckmann, Night, 1918-19
    25. 25. Max Beckmann • Scene of ruthless torture at end of WWI • Expressionist angularity & compressed space adds to sense of aggression and violence • German revolutionary on far right revealing/concealing scene • Grosz & Beckmann both German soldiers in WWI; later turned against war • Would later be dubbed a Degenerate Artist & forced to flee (first to Amsterdam, then St. Louis) • Portraiture significant to New Objectivity (subjectivity and individualism) Beckmann, Night, 1918-19 Beckmann Self-Portrait in Tuxedo 1927
    26. 26. New Objectivity Portraiture – Christian Schad and Otto Dix 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 "the Winged One" and Rasha "the Black Dove”, 1929
    27. 27. Otto Dix, Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden, 1926 Dix: 'I must paint you! I simply must! … You are representative of an entire epoch!' Von Harden: 'So, you want to paint my lacklustre eyes, my ornate ears, my long nose, my thin lips; you want to paint my long hands, my short legs, my big feet—things which can only scare people off and delight no-one?' Dix: 'You have brilliantly characterized yourself, and all that will lead to a portrait representative of an epoch concerned not with the outward beauty of a woman but rather with her psychological condition.'
    28. 28. 1927 - Meanwhile, Across the Atlantic… • American artists inspired by “machine aesthetic”, particularly Charles Sheeler & Ford Motors • Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) opens in 1929 to showcase modernist art in Europe • Traced lineage to Post- Impressionism (Cezanne, etc) & Cubism • Alfred Barr hired as first director; school in radical European modernism (DeStijl, Bauhaus, etc) • MoMA’s exhibitions became the standard for modern art museums (focus on painting & sculpture, isolating the works on pristine white walls) Diagram of modern art movements 1890-1935, 1935
    29. 29. Precisionism • Seems to support Duchamp’s statement that America’s greatest works are “her plumbing and her bridges” • NYC as beacon of new industrial age • 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) • Formatted as altarpiece to suggest industry as new religion? • Combines Cubist and Futurist aesthetics Joseph Stella, Voice of the City: New York Interpreted, 1920-22, 7+ ft. tall
    30. 30. Charles Sheeler, American Landscape, 1930
    31. 31. Charles Sheeler • Received commission to photograph River Rouge Plant for Ford Motors outside of Detroit • 23 buildings and 93 miles of track • Made series of photos, then paintings inspired by them • Completed 32 official photos, 9 of which published in magazines including Vanity Fair • One had caption “an American altar of the God-Objective of Mass Production” • Portrays industry as divinely ordained and in harmony with nature • Anonymously controlled model of efficiency Charles Sheeler, American Landscape, 1930 man nearly absent Smoke merges with clouds Plant reflected in river
    32. 32. The Course of Empire Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Desolation, 1835 Yves Marchand, Romain Meffre, The Ruins of Detroit, 2010
    33. 33. Georgia O’Keeffe • O’Keeffe would begin working in this Precisionist fashion when living in NYC • Abandoned it when left for American Southwest • Applied modernist formal concerns (abstraction, reduction, cropping) to organic naturalism • Inspired by modernist photography (Strand, etc) • Feminizes the masculine Precisionist view of the city? Alfred Stieglitz Georgia O’Keeffe 1918 Georgia O’Keeffe, Black Iris III, 1926