Much of Modernism is hopeful. It says that the individual is the Creator of Reality. It says that with individual expression one can find freedom (artistically speaking). Progress comes from the individual and the structures he creates the world with. But Modernism eventually leads to great disillusionment. We start to see the causes of that disillusionment in warfare, scientific discovery, and political fighting. A great example of this is the scientific discoveries of the time. Pavlov, a Russian scientist, discovers in 1900 that he can manipulate the salivation of dogs. Initially he had fed dogs after the ringing of the bell; then he only rang the bell. Still the dogs salivated as if about to eat. This proves the modernist idea that it is from associations that we act and determine our world. Political leaders start to use this scientific discovery to manipulate people through their “conditioned reflexes” to external stimuli.
World War IBegins in 1914Fought with 20th century technology but with 19th century tactics—trench warfareEurope loses a generation of young men to war Fascism, Communism and Liberal-democratic capitalism are in conflict—which leads to future wars being less about territory and more about ideology Europe is defeated as much by economic despair—hyperinflationThe States starts to see more economic prosperity after WWI, but still must contend with the Great Depression (Which is only really ended by the build-up to WWII)Then WWII happens and then Hiroshima, technology gone insane!
SALVADOR DALI, The Persistence of Memory, 1931Wanted the interior world (which is confusing and abstract) to have the appearance in art that the natural world would haveSo he is technically virtuosicThe end of timeDead treeSleeping creatureAnts and fly on watch facesTime is as organic as living objects, natural objectsThe Dada movement has ended, but most of those artists join the Surrealist movement. Artists want to explore the inner world, the world of the unconscious, the world of the mitigated intuition. It is NOT improvised as your book states—very deliberate. Artists want to reengage those parts of ourselves that we have ignored, forgotten because of society’s structures. Reality is based on our associations, not on the physical world per se. Andre Breton writes The Manifesto. Essentially says that we are animals (not ideal humans), which is okay. The problems come when we remove ourselves from nature (the sexual, the primal, the instinctual) and conform to society’s structures. True originality lies in people NOT understanding you (which makes sense, if people understand you, you are doing something that has been done before.)On the threshold of post-modernity A product of the anxieties of World War I. If Dadaism laughed at the horrors of WWI, the Surrealist escape it (to a degree) and retreat to the inner world. Modernism had reached for the stars and landed in the European trenches.Surrealists struggle with language: they want to reject the contradictions that language raisesthey want to reject the binary pictures/associations that language createsso they confuse the image and language—they make it not connectALSO, language takes us away from nature, it creates transcendent thinking, so get rid of language What is transcendental thinking?The operation of language depends on generalizationsIt cannot by its nature be conciseIt lends itself to a view from abovee. language limits out ability to express our emotions (you can only say what you can say)We believe what makes sense in language, SO they seek to destroy language and get back to nature (the intuitive, the unconscious) Heiddeger says that the more questions you ask, the less you will know. Language cannot give you the truth, but will lead you farther away from the truth. You ask, “Who is that person?” Fonda “Who is Fonda?” Fonda is a woman. “What is a woman?” Woman is that which is not man. “What is man?” None of these questions lead us to know who that person is.Surrealism is Inspired by Freud (father of psychoanalysis) and Jung (dream-work and collective unconscious)Freud taught that the human libido is the sole agent of human survival—the instinct to procreateHuman sexuality is cause of anxiety when hindered by social constructs. As sexual animals, we are the healthiest; healthy individuals accept sexuality in its context—as animals. As “civilized” people we are the unhealthiest—Civilization and Its Discontents.Human psyche made up of:ID=independent of consciousness, a blind force of nature, the libidoEGO=the self conscious of self, the pleasure principle (which will ultimately destroy you); that which defends the self through repression of the IDSUPEREGO=the mediating agency that limits desire (government, the church, institutions)Also talked about stages of juxtaposition, condensation, and fetishization.
Poetry must be as arduous as life is to livePrufrock page 385Second Coming page 392
In 1929, the stock market crashes because goods were being bought on credit in an unregulated marketTo counteract the Depression and its economic devastation on families, in 1935:Social security inauguratedUnemployment benefitsAgricultural subsidiesArtists are supported through the WPA
Truth Centered World World of Individuation1. Existence of meta- 1. Meta-narratives narratives collapse2. God as creator 2. Individual is creator3. Truth is absolute 3. Truth is contextual4. There is order to the 4. Order is false; the world world is disordered
• World War I—1914-17 • Begun with the promise that bravery and the wills of men can continue making progress • Welcomed by European youth who wanted to destroy any remnant of the past. It was to be the culmination of the promises of modernism.• Russian Revolution—1917• Spanish Civil War—1936-39• World War II—1939-1945 • The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki show that technology has gone insane.
BLUE RIDER GROUP• Seeking spirituality in painting • A synesthete, Kandinsky hears colors• Influenced by Arnold Schoenberg, an atonal composer • The goal is to lose the subject of art, so leads to abstraction
CUBISM A reordering of the world based on geometry and the subjectivity of the artist—Artist as God• Influenced by African and Oceanic masks• Shameless women of the red light district sexuality celebrated
FUTURISM• War is a cleansing agent for civilization• Only war can reform society • Get rid of the feminine • Replace with the masculine— speed, aggressive movement
What was supposed to end quickly and gloriously brought about machine guns, flame throwers, fighter aircraft, poison gas In 1916 alone, Germany lost 850,000, France, 700,000, and England, 400,000 Political leaders use patriotism to mask war profiteering. Food is rationed. WWI is the most brutal in human history at this time. SO, if man, not god, is the center of theWhy is it so devastating? universe, mankind is evil.It completely demolished thehopes of modernism. If man, not god, holds his own destiny, he is lost.—and so the “Lost Generation” of writers and poets. Mankind is at the mercy of its own inadequacies. This is the disillusionment of Modernism.
DADA• Artist is not God, but dead • Art is what the artists says it is• Responds to the disillusionment of Modernism • Art cannot take us away from our associations • Art cannot bring progress • Life is absurd
SURREALISM• Tries to explore the unconscious, that which can tell us who we are• A vision of the dream world• Tries to escape language without abstraction (unlike Kandinsky)
Response to the brutality of Spanish Civil War
T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of W. B. Yeats “Second Coming” J. Alfred Prufrock”• A poem about a man who • Explores chaos does not fit in with women • Explores the demise of• Prufrock cannot profess his traditional religious ideas own feelings for a woman • Salvation • A paradise to come
BIOMORPHISM• Abstract Art takes its cues from nature (rather than industry and technology)• O’Keefe leaves behind a life in the modern world for one in Sante Fe, New Mexico—her attempt to find the pure and primitive
SOCIAL REALISM• Portrays workers devastated by the Depression and drought• This is what the Depression looks like • Soup lines • Displaced Americans• Part of a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project with the “New Deal”
SOCIAL REALISM • Modernism brings only loneliness, detachment• Stoicism is an American expression to cultural discontent-- Lacks the “hysterical” reaction of the Europeans
• Combines interior and exterior, and the industrial with the organic • Combines man made architecture and natural forms
• Individual movements/expressions ofyou will learn more Modernism throughabout: Manifestos