Postwar European ArtEuropean Responses to AmericanAbstraction
European Responses to AmericanAbstraction• Like their American contemporaries, Europeanartists are heavily affected by the war.• In addition, European artists begin to respondto American abstraction.– Europeans had become familiar with AbstractExpressionism through the many exhibitions co-sponsored by the American government and sentabroad.
Postwar European Art• While America benefitted from the war, Europe wasdecimated.• Cities were nearly totally destroyed or leveled by thewar.• Millions of lives were lost:– Over 60 million lives, 2.5⅟ of the world’s populations waslost.• An estimated 6 million Jews were exterminated as part of Nazicampaign• France lost 567,600 lives• Britain lost 670,000 lives• Japan lost 1,555,308 lives• America 418,500 lives• Soviet Union 23,400,000 lives
Postwar European ArtOn October 8, 1952 President Dwight D. Eisenhowerremarked:“Our aim in the Cold War is not conquering of territory or subjugationby force. Our aim is more subtle, more pervasive, more complete. Weare trying to get the world, by peaceful means, to believe the truth.That truth is that Americans want a world at peace, a world in whichall people shall have opportunity for maximum individualdevelopment. The means we shall employ to spread this truth areoften called "psychological." Don’t be afraid of that term just becauseit’s a five-dollar, five-syllable word. "Psychological warfare" is thestruggle for the minds and wills of men.”• Abstract Expressionism would become a tool in thiscampaign, part of the psychological warfare toutingAmerican democracy and way of living.
Postwar European Art• Eisenhower’s approach has been labeled“dynamic conservatism”.• The United States used its leverage-its economicstability to launch a campaign to stave off theinfluence of Communism.• The United States with its wealth attempts to buyanti-Communist allegiance from those countrieshurt most (and in threat of falling toCommunism) through various postwar assistanceprograms.
Postwar European Art• Part of the anti-Communist effort was a campaign thatadvertised the pleasures of democracy.• The Central Intelligence Agency launched what can best bedescribed as a cultural campaign to fight Communismemploying music, the visual and performing arts, literature,even home and appliance design to sell democracy toEuropean countries.• The Congress for Cultural Freedom was in place by 1950.– Congress for Cultural Freedom sponsored art specificallytargeted at the Soviet Union promoting art it had banned.– The thought was if a government could allow artists to create insuch a free way, and show that to the world, the messagereceived would be pro-American, that American freedom was afreedom of the individual, with the emphasis on every-man-for-himself.
Congress for Cultural Freedom• In 1952 The Congress for Cultural Freedom sponsoredthe "Masterpieces Festival" of modern art.– “On display will be masterpieces that could not have beencreated nor whose exhibition would be allowed by suchtotalitarian regimes as Nazi Germany or present day SovietRussia and her satellites."– The primary art of this exhibition and a number of otherwidely publicized art extravaganzas during the fifties wasAbstract Expressionism.– Nelson Rockefeller, whose family sat on the board ofseveral NYC museums, purchased over 2500 pieces ofAbstract Expressionist art and used these paintings to helpin the campaign and to eventually decorate the lobbies ofChase Manhattan banks.
Congress for Cultural Freedom• CIA sponsored international exhibitions– In 1942, the Museum of Modern Art, in conjunction with the StateDepartment, organizes “The Road to Victory,” a photographyexhibition featuring the work of Edward J. Steichen, with text by CarlSandburg.• The underlying theme was America had to win the war.– According to President Eisenhower MoMA was the fortress offreedom and democracy:• "As long as artists are at liberty to feel with high personal intensity, as longas our artists are free to create with sincerity and conviction, there will be ahealthy controversy and progress in art….How different it is in tyranny, whenartists are made the slaves and tools of the state; when artists become chiefpropagandists of a cause, progress is arrested and creation and genius aredestroyed."• Modern art, in Eisenhower’s estimation, was a "pillar of liberty.”– 1953/4 exhibition "Twelve Contemporary American Painters andSculptors” travels to Europe via the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris.– Also organized by MoMA, the show “New American Painting” wouldtravel internationally throughout 1958-59.
Postwar European ArtPablo Picasso (1881-1973)• Like American artists,European artists embraceexistentialist philosophy.• As many did after WorldWar I, artists returned toconventional subjects andforms of art.• Artists within The School ofParis, like Picasso revisitedthe human form. Pablo Picasso, The Charnel House, Paris,1944-1945. Oil and charcoal on canvas,6’6 5/8” x 8’ 2 ½”. Museum of ModernArt, NY.
Postwar European ArtAlberti Giacometti (1901-1966)• Many artists that had fled to theU.S. during the war return toEurope.• Surrealist sculptor, AlbertoGiacometti, breaks from Surrealismto refocus his attention on thefigure with existentialistinterpretation.Alberto Giacometti, Man Pointing, 1947.Bronze, 70 ½” x 40 ¾” x 16 3/8”. Museum ofModern Art, NYC.
Postwar European ArtAlberto Giacometti, Head of a Man ona Rod, 1947. Bronze, 23 1/2" (59.7cm) high, including bronze base 6 3/8x 5 7/8 x 6”. Museum of Modern Art.Alberti Giacometti (1901-1966)• Giacometti returns to the figure with Head ofa Man on a Rod.• The piece exhibits indications of post-traumatic stress.– The work consists of a human headimpaled on a rod, mouth open, head tiltedback.– The presence of violence is felt in theexpression of the man’s face and thegestural working of material.
Postwar European ArtAlberti Giacometti (1901-1966)• The figures captured here in TheForest represents the the artist’spostwar style.• His figures are exceptionallyexpressionistic; they are elongated,retain his signature style of keepingthe marks from working thematerial.• The Forest epitomizes theexistentialist angst felt by most afterWWII-a sense of alienation thatcannot be soothed. Alberto Giacometti, The Forest (Compositionwith Seven Figures and One Head), 1950.Painted bronze, 22” x 24” x 19 ¼”.Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.
Postwar European ArtGermaine Richier (1904-1959)• Richier’s early work resembles Rodin,from who she can trace her artisticlineage.• Her mature work takes a uniquelymorbid twist represented here inPraying Mantis.• Surrealist tradition figured the prayingmantis as a symbol for the castratingfemale, “the New Woman of Paris”.• Richier creates an ambiguous form thatlooks simultaneously like a seatedfigure and the insect from which it getsits name.• In context to the postwar era, thepraying mantis becomes of symbol ofendurance.Germaine Richier, Praying Mantis,1949. Bronze, height 47 ¼”.Middleheim Sculpture Museum,Antwerp.
Postwar European Art• Closely associated withGiacometti.• Early influence comes frommother and father who wereboth painters.• Self-taught, spent timestudying master artists fromthe Louvre collection.• Known for the subject mattercaptured here-prepubescentyoung girls coming of age. Balthus, Les Beaux Jours (The Golden Days), 1944-46. Oil on canvas, 4’ 10 ½” x 6’6 ¾”. HirshhornMuseum and Sculpture Garden, SmithsonianInstitution, Washington, D.C.Balthasar Klowwowski, Count de Rola (1908-2001)Balthus
• The young girl is figured striking a lolita-esque pose in a chaise lounge withexposed chest .• Her posture is reminiscent of theRenaissance and modern masters’paintings of courtesans.• Included in the background is an oldermale figure whose presence makes theviewer uneasy after reviewing theyoung girl’s posture.• Scholars interpret Balthus’ work ascommentary on a Europe haunted bywar.Balthus, Les Beaux Jours (The GoldenDays), 1944-46. Oil on canvas, 4’ 10 ½”x 6’6 ¾”. Hirshhorn Museum andSculpture Garden, SmithsonianInstitution, Washington, D.C.Postwar European ArtBalthus (1908-2001)
Titian, Venus of Urbino, 1538.Oil on canvas 47” x 65”. Uffizi,Florence.Giorgione, Sleeping Venus, c.1510. Oil on canvas, 42.5” x68.9”. Gemäldegalerie AlteMeister, DresdenFrancisco Goya, The NudeMajas, 1792. Oil on canvas,38.6” x 75.2”. PradoMuseum, Spain.ÉdouardManet,Olympia,1863-65.Oil on canvas, 4’3” x 6’2¾”. Musée dOrsay, Paris.Balthus, Les Beaux Jours (TheGolden Days), 1944-46. Oil oncanvas, 4’ 10 ½” x 6’6 ¾”. HirshhornMuseum and Sculpture Garden,Smithsonian Institution,Washington, D.C.
Postwar European Art• One can also make draw connectionsbetween Balthus’ image and that ofMunch’s Puberty, 1894/5.– Both artists feature young girls at the age ofmaturation.Balthus, Les Beaux Jours (The Golden Days),1944-46. Oil on canvas, 4’ 10 ½” x 6’6 ¾”.Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.Edvard Munch, Puberty, 1894-1895. Oilon canvas, 59 5/8” x 43 ¼”. NationalGallery, Oslo.
“The mirror was often used as a symbolof the vanity of woman. The moralizing,however, was mostly hypocritical. Youpainted a naked woman because youenjoyed looking at her, you put a mirror inher hand and you called the paintingVanity, thus morally condemning thewoman whose nakedness you haddepicted for your own pleasure.”Balthus, Les Beaux Jours (The Golden Days), 1944-46. Oil on canvas, 4’ 10 ½” x 6’6 ¾”. HirshhornMuseum and Sculpture Garden, SmithsonianInstitution, Washington, D.C.Diego Velázquez, Rokeby Venus, 1647-1651. Oil oncanvas, 48” x 69.7”. National Gallery, London.• Balthus’ young girl is figured with a mirror, traditionally used as a symbol offemale vanity.• In Ways of Seeing (1972), author John Berger writes:
Postwar European Art: L’Art BrutJean Dubuffet (1901-1985)• Of the European artists painting in thepostwar era, Dubuffet presented a specificretaliation to the New York School.• His “Anticultural Positions” given inChicago in 1951, became of the mostinfluential aesthetic statements of thepostwar period.• Dubuffet argued, in part, for the return tofiguration-something represented here inhis Corps de Dame series. Jean Dubuffet, Corps de Dame-Château d’Étoupe, 1950. Oil oncanvas, 45 1/16” x 34 7/16”. AllenMemorial Art Museum, OberlinCollege, Ohio.
Postwar European Art: L’Art BrutJean Dubuffet (1901-1985)• Prior to becoming an artist,Dubuffet was a successful winesalesman.• His turn to art in early the 1940swould establish him as an artistamongst the postwar avant-garde.• His interest in the mentally ill wouldbe instrumental in establishing astyle called “L’Art Brut” or brutal orraw art. Jean Dubuffet, Corps de Dame-Château d’Étoupe, 1950. Oil oncanvas, 45 1/16” x 34 7/16”. AllenMemorial Art Museum, OberlinCollege, Ohio.
Postwar European Art: L’Art BrutL’Art Brut (1945-1950s)• Translated as “raw art” and is oftenreferred to as outsider art.• Inspired by the teachings of Dr.Prinzhorn, Dubuffet took an interestin the mentally ill, school children,the incarcerated and criminallyinsane, primitive, and naïve.– His collection of thousands of worksare housed in a museum dedicated tooutsider art in Switzerland.• He embraced “low art” in a worldthat championed the fine art of theNew York School.Jean Dubuffet, Supervielle,Large Banner Portrait, 1945.Oil on canvas 51 ¼” x 38 ¼”.Art Institute of Chicago.
Postwar European Art: L’Art BrutJean Dubuffet (1901-1985)• Dubuffet’s work reflectsthe naïve styling of theuntrained.• His work is anti-intellectual, natural, andauthentic- a grittier side ofthe unconscious tappedinto by Surrealists andAbstract Expressionistartists alike.Jean Dubuffet, View of Paris: The Life ofPleasure, 1944. Oil on canvas, 35 x 45¾”. Private Collection.
Postwar European Art: L’Art BrutJean Dubuffet (1901-1985)• Dubuffet also used unconventionalmaterials and found objects includingdriftwood, sponges, twine, etc.• His L’Âme du Morvan makes use ofgrapevines.• From these raw, found materials he wasable to forge a rough figure reminiscentof Giacometti’s postwar figures.– Like Giacometti’s work, thearrangement possesses existentialistangst and expressivity.– One might interpret the scene as thepostwar wasteland of any givenEuropean city.Jean Dubuffet, L’Âme duMorvan) The Soul of Morvan),May 1954. Grape wood andvines mounted on slag basewith tar, rope, wire, twine,nails, and staples, 18 3/8” x 153/8” x 12 ¾”. Hirshorn Museumand Sculpture Garden,Washington, D.C.
Postwar European ArtAlberto Giacometti, Man Pointing, 1947.Bronze, 70 ½” x 40 ¾” x 16 3/8”.Museum of Modern Art, NYC.Jean Dubuffet, L’Âme du Morvan) The Soul ofMorvan), May 1954. Grape wood and vinesmounted on slag base with tar, rope, wire,twine, nails, and staples, 18 3/8” x 15 3/8” x 12¾”. Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,Washington, D.C.
Postwar European Art: L’Art BrutJean Dubuffet (1901-1985)• 1950s, Dubuffet focuses onlandscapes.• As seen here, hislandscapes are uniquedescribed best as close-upshoots of nature (the earth,dirt, vegetation).Jean Dubuffet, The Exemplary Life of theSoil (Texturology LXIII) (Vie exemplaire dusol (Texturologie LXIII)), 1958. Oil oncanvas, 51 ¼” x 63 ¾”. Tate, London.
Postwar European Art• Interestingly, his Texturology series bears someresemblance to Pollock’s drip paintings from the 1950s.Jean Dubuffet, The Exemplary Life of theSoil (Texturology LXIII) (Vie exemplaire dusol (Texturologie LXIII)), 1958. Oil oncanvas, 51 ¼” x 63 ¾”. Tate, London.Jackson Pollock, One (Lavender Mist), 1950. Oiland enamel paint on canvas, 8 10" x 17 5 5/8”.National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Postwar European ArtL’Art Informel and Tachisme
Postwar European Art: L’Art InformelTachismeL’Art Informel (1940 and 1950s)• Term used to designate an art form associated withEuropean gestural abstraction.• Originated in 1950 by Michel Tapiés to describe whatconsidered another art, one that had nopreconception, no need for control or geometricabstraction.– Concern was more for a lack of form.– Emphasis was on the spontaneous, the unplanned• L’Art Informel include artists: Hans Hartung, Wols, JeanFautrier, Nicolas de Staël, and Pierre Soulages (alsoGeorges Mathieu, Gerard Schneider)
Postwar European Art: L’Art InformelTachismeTachisme (1940s ad 1950s)• The term tachisme means to drip, blot, stain, or spot and hasobvious affinities with many methods employed by first andsecond generation artists of the New York School.• It is a specific reaction to Cubism and its geometricabstraction.• Characterized by free and gestural brushwork, marks of paintmade directly from the paint tube, and action painting withcalligraphic forms.• Considered the French equivalent to Abstract Expressionism.• Part of the larger movement, L’Art Informel.• Important artists associated with the movement include :Jean-Paul Riopelle, Jean Dubuffet, Pierre Soulages, Nicholasde Stael, Hans Hartung, Serge Poliakoff, Georges Mathieu andJean Messagier.
Postwar European Art: L’Art Informel“No art form can produceemotion if it does not mix in apart of reality.”- Jean FautrierJean Fautrier Nude, 1960. Oil on canvas, 35” x57 ½”. Collection de Montaigu, Paris.
Postwar European Art: L’Art InformelJean Fautrier (1898-1964)• Fautrier was a leading figure ofL’Art Informel.• Inspired Dubuffet to return toart.• Rejected geometric abstractionand premeditation of process.• Like most artists of the postwarperiod, rational art could nolonger be justified.– In a world where massannihilation was possible,the time called for a newway of producing art.Jean Fautrier Nude, 1960. Oil on canvas, 35” x57 ½”. Collection de Montaigu, Paris.
Postwar European Art: L’Art InformelJean Fautrier (1898-1964)• Early work of 1920s and 1930scharacterized as representationalwith an abundance of nudes,flowers, and landscapes whereblack dominates.• His work allows for no illusion.• Disaffected by studies at both theRoyal Academy of Art and theSlade School he instead studiedthe works of artists like J.M.W.Turner in the Tate Gallery.Jean Fautrier, Les peaux de lapin(The Rabbit Skins), 1927. Oil oncanvas, 51 1/8” x 38 ¼”. Marie-JoséLefort, Geneva, Switzerland.
Postwar European Art: L’Art InformelJean Fautrier (1898-1964)• Fautrier gained attentionwith the production of aseries of works known as theHostage series.• Inspired by the atrocities ofthe war and his personalexperience with the GermanGestapo.• Small in scale, the artist builtup several layers of paintover a neutrally coloredsheet of paper.• The designs recall humanremains. Jean Fautrier, Otages fond noir (Hostages BlackGround), 1944-47, printed c. 1962. Etching,relief printed, plate: 9 1/4 x 12 9/16”. Museumof Modern Art.
Postwar European Art: L’Art InformelJean Fautrier (1898-1964)• Fautrier’s Naked Torsos seriesfollowed the Hostage series andwon him the award at theVenice Biennale.• Like the Hostage series, Fautriercreates forms suggestive ofhuman remains.• His canvas is a thick applicationof clay, paint, glue, and othermaterials the result of whichcreate a three dimensionality tothe painting.Jean Fautrier Nude, 1960. Oil on canvas, 35” x57 ½”. Collection de Montaigu, Paris.
Postwar European ArtHans Hartung (1895-1981)• Directly affected by Nazi occupation,Hartung fled Germany in the 1930sand settled in Paris in 1935.• His early work from the 1920ssuggests de Kooning’s brand ofgestural abstraction associated withthe New York School.• He was influenced by artistsincluding Kandinsky and theSurrealism of Míro and Masson.• Hartung believed that painting wasan act performed on the canvas,something critics Rosenberg andKaprow discuss in essays reviewingthe work of Jackson Pollock.Hans Hartung, T-1954-20, 1954. Oilon canvas, 57 ½” x 38 ⅜”. NationalGallery of Art, Australia, Canberra.
• T-1954 represents Hartung’s maturestyle, (a style influenced by exposure toartist Franz Kline), characterized by blackslashes against bright washes of color.Hans Hartung, T-1954-20, 1954. Oil on canvas, 57 ½” x 38 ⅜”.National Gallery of Art, Australia, Canberra.Franz Kline, Nijinsky, 1950. Enamel on canvas, 46” x 35 ¼”.Collection Muriel Kallis Newman, Chicago.
Postwar European Art(Alfred Otto Wolfgan Schulzer)(1913-1951)Wols• Attended the Bauhaus and wasmentored by László Moholy-Nagy.• Nagy advised him to move to Pariswhere he was introduced to AmédéeOzenfant, Fernand Léger and Surrealistartists Hans Arp (1887-1966), Joan Míro,Max Ernst, and Alberto Giacometti.• Interned by the French during the war.– Work produces at that time recalls theSurrealist style of exquisite corpsedrawings.Wols, Bird, 1949. Oil on canvas, 36¼” x 25 3/8”. Menil Collection,Houston, TX.
André Breton, Valentine Hugo, Greta Knustin, andTristan Tzara, Exquisite Corpse, c. 1930; ink onpaper, 9 ¼” x 12¼”. Morton G. Neumann FamilyCollection.Wols, On lui fait une radio, 1939.Mixed media (pen, possibly ink orwatercolor on paper), dimensionsunpublished. Collection unknown.
Postwar European ArtWols (1913-1951)• Like Fautrier, Wols builds the canvasto sculptural dimensions with layersof paint.• Biomorphic specimens, possiblyinformed by associations withSurrealist artists, or his backgroundstudying anthropology and biology, isnoticeable.• His work retained a trace of thetrauma he experienced during thewar years.– That and his move to the United Statesarguably contributed to his alcoholismwhich killed him in 1951 at the age of38.Wols, Bird, 1949. Oil on canvas, 36¼” x 25 3/8”. Menil Collection,Houston, TX.
Post War European ArtGeorges Mathieu (b.1921)• Cast as a Lyrical Abstraction artist.• Strong promoter of L’Art Informel asalternative to geometric abstraction.• Credits first experiments withabstraction to EdwardCrankshaw’s Joseph Conrad:Some Aspects of the Art of theNovel (London, 1936).• Calligraphic style draws parallelsto Hartung.
Postwar European ArtGeorges Mathieu, Painting,1953. Oil on canvas,6’6” x 9’10”. Guggenheim Museum of Art, NYC.Hans Hartung, 24, 1953. Etching, 14.8“ x20.1“. Galerie Boisserée.
Postwar European ArtGeorges Mathieu (b.1921)• Process applies paint to canvasdirectly from tubes in aslashing gestural motion.• Believed that speed wasparamount to capturing thespontaneity desired andintuitive process.• Titles works after Frenchbattles in history insisting hisstyle is part of traditionalhistory painting-just in anabstract form.• Title, Painting suggests thetopic of work is medium itself.• Would perform beforeaudiences in outfits makingthe process of painting truly anevent.Georges Mathieu, Painting, 1953. Oil oncanvas, 6’6” x 9’10”. Guggenheim Museum ofArt, NYC.
Postwar European ArtPure Creation/Concrete Art (1947-1950s)• The term “Concrete Art” was first used by Theo vanDoesburg in his 1930 publication, "Manifesto of ConcreteArt".• According to van Doesburg this form of abstractionismmust be free of any symbolical association with reality,arguing that lines and colors are concrete by themselves.• The idea was revived again in 1944-1947.• Artist Max Bill promoted van Doesburg’s idea and organizedthe first international exhibition of Concrete Art in 1944.– Bill’s Pure Creation Art evolved out of the tradition of de Stijl,Constructivism, the Futurists, and Kandinsky.– Artist Josef Albers promoted the idea in America.
Postwar European Art: Pure Creation/Concrete Art• One of the earliest Europeanabstractionists to attractinternational attention.• Studied at the Royal Academy ofFine Arts.• Considered his work within arthistorical tradition as acontinuation of Poussin, Matisse,and Braque.• Much of his work is dedicated toreconciling abstract versusnature.• His process involved using apalette knife to build layers ontothe surface of the canvas.– He worked with loosely arrangedrectangular shapes to constructhis designs. Nicolas de Staël, Agrigente, 1954. Oil on canvas,34 ¾” x 50 ½”. Museum of Contemporary Art, LA.Nicolas de Staël (1914-1955)
Postwar European Art: Pure Creation/Concrete ArtNicolas de Staël, Agrigente, 1954. Oil on canvas,34 ¾” x 50 ½”. Museum of Contemporary Art, LA.Nicolas Poussin, Holy Family on the Steps,1648. Oil on canvas, 28”x44”. ClevelandMuseum of Art.• One sees a similarity in compositional organization between de Staël’sAgrigente and Poussin’s Holy Family.
Postwar European Art: Pure Creation/Concrete ArtMax Bill (1908-1994)• Studied at Bauhaus 1927-1929 withAlbers.• Believed painting and sculpture hadmathematical foundations.• His work is indebted to the teachings ofAlbers and example of Mondrian.• Bill first applied the term “concrete” tohis art in 1936.• He defined Concrete art as, “painting[that] eliminates all naturalisticrepresentation; it avails itself exclusivelyof the fundamental elements ofpainting, the color and form of thesurface. The essence is, then, hecomplete emancipation of every naturalmodel…”• Concrete art promoted the rationalism,balance, and clarity valued in theBauhaus style.Max Bill, Endless Ribbon From A Ring I(1947-1949)/(EXECUTED 1960). Gildedcopper on crystalline, 14 ½” x 27” x 7 ½“.Hirshorn Museum and SculptureGarden, Washington, D.C.
Postwar European Art: Pure Creation/Concrete ArtMax Bill, Nine Fields by Means of Two Colors, 1968. Oil on canvas, 47” x 47”. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.Piet Mondrian, Composition in Red, Blue,and Yellow, 1930. Oil on canvas, 20 1/8"x 20 1/8". Museum of Modern Art.
Postwar European ArtPostwar Juxtapositions: Figurationand Abstraction in Italy and Spain
Postwar European ArtGiorgio Morandi (1890-1964)• Italian art of the postwar period,like its predecessors, theFuturists, was very much tied topolitical views.• Realism maintained a strongpresence in postwar Italy.• Morandi arose as the leadingfigurative painter of thepostwar period.• He explored landscape and thehuman form but his main subjectremained the still life.Giorgio Morandi, Still Life, 1951. Oil on canvas,8 7/8” x 19 5/8”. Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen.
Postwar European ArtGiorgio Morandi, Still Life, 1951. Oil on canvas,8 7/8” x 19 5/8”. Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen.• Morandi’s still lifes continue in the traditionof Baroque masters.• His still lifes gather together containers setagainst a neutral background.• His arrangements are simple and brokendown to their most abstract forms.Juan Sánchez Cotán, Still Life with Quince,Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber, 1602.Oil on canvas, 27.2” x 33.5”. San DiegoMuseum of Art.
Postwar European Art“ My equestrian figures are symbols ofthe anguish I feel when I surveycontemporary events. Little by little,my horses become more restless, theirriders less and less able to controlthem.”-Marino MariniMarino Marini, Horse and Rider, 1952-53. Bronze,height 6’10”. Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,Smithsonian Museum, Washington, D.C.
Postwar European ArtMarino Marini (1901-1980)• Marini’s work is rooted in a deep tradition offigurative sculpture.• He draws inspiration from ancient Greek,Etruscan, Roman, and Chinese art.• Unlike his Futurist predecessors, he firmlybelieved contemporary art to be fused withart of the past.• The horse and rider was a preferred theme ofthe artist and he looked to the ancientcultures (Roman and Tang dynasty, China) forexamples.Marino Marini, Horse andRider, 1952-53. Bronze, height6’10”. Hirshorn Museum andSculpture Garden, SmithsonianMuseum, Washington, D.C.
Marino Marini, Horse andRider, 1952-53. Bronze,height 6’10”. HirshornMuseum and SculptureGarden, SmithsonianMuseum, Washington, D.C.Equestrian status ofMarcus Aurelius, ca.175CE. Gilded Bronze,approximately 138” high.Musei Capitolini, Rome.Horse and Rider, Tag dynastey,c. 650-700 CE. Asian ArtMuseum of San Francisco inCalifornia.
• The expressive quality of gesture alsogives cause for comparison to Picasso’sGuernica.Marino Marini, Horse and Rider, 1952-53. Bronze, height6’10”. Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,Smithsonian Museum, Washington, D.C.Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937. Oil on canvas, 11’6” x 25’ 8”.Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid.
Postwar European ArtGiacomo Manzù (1908-1991)• The figurative traditioncontinued in the work ofItalian Manzù who was knownfor his religious sculptures.• Large Standing Cardinal is partof a larger series titled,Cardinal series.• In this series the artistcontinues a conversationbegun in his earlier Crucifixionseries commenting on fascism.• Manzù presents a traditionalfigural sculpture with an air ofmystery. Giacomo Manzù, Large Standing Cardinal,1954. Bronze, height 66 ½”. Hirshorn Museumand Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Museum,Washington, D.C.
Postwar European ArtLucio Fontana (1899-1968)• Argetentian-born painter, sculptor, andtheorist.• Leading representative of abstractartists working in Italy after WWII.• Member of the Abstraction-Creationgroup centered in Paris.• 1935 writes The First Manifesto ofItalian Abstract Artists to be followed in1946 by the better known, WhiteManifesto.– Informed by Marinetti’s Futurist Manifestoand espoused what would later becomeknown as Spatialism.Lucio Fontana, Spatial Concept: TheEnd of God, 1963. Oil on canvas, 70” x48 ½”. Gallerie dell’Ariete, Milan.
Postwar European Responses• Spatialism Manifesto written between 1947-1952.• Spatialism combines ideas from the Dada, Tachisme, and ConcreteArt.• Fontana wanted to create art for "a new age" that would show the"real space of the world."• Spaitialism rejects illusionistic space of traditional easel painting.• Advocated free development of form and movement.• What separated the movement from Abstract Expressionism was theconcept of eradicating the art of the easel and paint, and try tocapture movement and time as the main tenets in the work.• Like Lyrical Abstraction and L’Art Informel, Spatialism rejectspremeditation and seeks art (much like Schwitters’ Merz Pictures)become part of its surroundings.Spatialism (1947-1960s)
Postwar European ArtLucio Fontana (1899-1968)• Works like Spatial Concept capture hisSpatialist ideas.• His Concetti Spaziale from the 1950santicipate Conceptualism of the 1970sin their experimentation with light,space, and environment.• Spatial Concept: The End of God isexistentialist in approach anddemonstrates where Fontana takesSpatialism in the 1960s.Lucio Fontana, Spatial Concept: TheEnd of God, 1963. Oil on canvas, 70” x48 ½”. Gallerie dell’Ariete, Milan.
Postwar European ArtLucio Fontana (1899-1968)• Like, Spatial Concept: The End ofGod, in Concetto spaziale Fontanapierces the surface breakingthrough the picture plane-thetraditional object of modernistdebate and attack against tradition.• Gesture for Fontana was associatedwith the exploration of artisticmedium, not the performativeaspectLucio Fontana, Concetto spaziale,(Attese), 1965. Water-based paint oncanvas 32" x 25 5/8" . FolkwangMuseum Essen, Germany.
Postwar European ArtAntoni Tàpies (b.1923)• Tàpies became one of Spain’s mostimportant postwar artists.• Like Picasso, he drew inspirationfrom the landscape of his nativeCatalonia and its culture.• His early work from the 1940sexplores both figurative andabstract forms and exhibits aheavy use of impasto.• To explore textural qualities ofpaint he mixed ground up chalkand pigment with oil paint thenscratched away at the surface areato create multi-dimensionalpieces.• In September 1948, he becamea founding member of the Daual set, a group of artistsinfluenced by Surrealistautomatism.Antoni Tàpies, Painting Collage, 1964. Mixedmedia on canvas, 14” x 22”. Galleria Toninelli,Rome.
Postwar European ArtAntoni Tàpies (b.1923)• His international reputation wassolidified in the 1950s with a group ofworks that do not fit neatly into thecategories of painting or sculpture.• During the 1960s, under a Popinfluence, Tàpies began to introducefound objects into his mixed mediapaintings.• Selection of objects was basedanthropomorphic possibilities.• Here, Tàpies presents a mixed mediacollage suggestive of an anthropologicaldig.• The materials he selects to create hiscollages are humble and parallel thework of the Arte Povera artists.Antoni Tàpies, Painting Collage, 1964.Mixed media on canvas, 14” x 22”.Galleria Toninelli, Rome.
Postwar European Art: CoBrACoBrA (1948-1951)• Founded in Paris by Asger Jorn (from Copenhagen), Joseph Noiret andChristian Dotremont (from Brussels) and Constant, Corneille and KarelAppel (from Amsterdam) signed the manifesto La Cause était entendue’(The Case was Heard).• CoBrA was a response to a statement by the French Surrealists entitled LaCause est entendue (The Case is Heard).• CoBrA artists rejected premeditation; they wanted to work spontaneouslyand with more fantastical imagery.• CoBra wanted their work to be expressive, colorful and unconventional-they rejected academy standards.• CoBrA artists worked with many media, experimentation was paramount.• Artists associated with CoBrA include Piere Alechinsky ,Else Alfelt, KarelAppel, Mogens Balle, Ejler Bille, Corneille, Christian Dotremont, SonjaFerlov, Stephen Gilbert, Svavar Gudnason, Henry Heerup, C. O. Hultén,Egill Jacobsen, Erik Ortvad, Carl-Henning Petersen,Max Walter Svanberg,and Anders Österlin
Postwar European Art: CoBrAAsger Jorn (1914-1973)• CoBra artists experimented with materialand technique, allowing for chance toassist.• Birds, cats and dogs, fantasy animals,and hybrids dominate.• Like L’Art Brut, CoBrA artists foundinspiration in children’s drawings, the artof the mentally unstable, folklore, andthe masks of African peoples.• Jorn reacted most against the Concreteartists’ search for balance and harmony.• He was personally interested in mythictradition, and Nordic folklore. Asger Jorn, The Enigma of FrozenWater, 1970. Oil on canvas, 63 ¾” x 51⅛”. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
Postwar European Art: CoBrA“You have to learn it all, then forget it and startagain like a child. This is the inner evolution.”-Karel AppelKarel Appel, Willem Sandberg, 1956. Oil on canvas,51 ¼” x 31 ⅞”. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Postwar European Art: CoBrAKarel Appel (1921-2006)• Like Jorn, Appel’s work never evacuatedthe figurative.• He painted with heavy impasto andbright colors.• Appel, like Dubuffet was drawn to anintuitive and spontaneous process.• The subject of this portrait, WillemSandberg, was the director ofAmsterdam’s Stedeljik Museum andadvocate of experimental modern art.– Sandberg gained admiration for both hisunabashed defense of CoBra and effort tosave Dutch Jews during WWII.Karel Appel, Willem Sandberg, 1956. Oil on canvas,51 ¼” x 31 ⅞”. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Postwar European WarHundertwasser (1928-2000)• Hundertwasser continues the tradition ofAustria’s Art Nouveau and Expressionistartists.• His style was largely based on the imagerydeveloped by earlier artists Gustav Klimt andEgon Schiele– He shares Klimt’s jewel-like tones.• Hundertwasser survived Nazi Germanyby remaining in disguise.• His later work focused on designingurban architecture. Hundertwasser, House which wasborn in Stockholm, dies in Paris,and myself mourning it, 1965.Mixed media, 32” x 23 2/3”.Private Collection.
Postwar European ArtPostwar British Painting andSculpture
Postwar European Art“…a terrible beauty…”-Francis BaconFrancis Bacon, Painting, 1946. Oil on canvas, 6’6” x4’4”. Museum of Modern Art.
Postwar European ArtFrancis Bacon (1909-1992)• Bacon’s Painting is a compilation ofimages that recall the works of ofRembrandt and Velázquez.• Bacon paints a dark scene of disfiguredbodies-animal and human.• While alive, the artist asserted theobjects appeared accidently.• Pictured in the scene is a figure thatemerges from a dark background with ahorrific grin.– Surrounding the figure are slabs ofmeat, including one strung up toresemble a crucifixion scene.• Most scholars agree the overarchingmethod is one of fear and intimidation,of uncensored power.Francis Bacon, Painting, 1946. Oil on canvas, 6’6” x4’4”. Museum of Modern Art.
Francis Bacon, Painting, 1946. Oil on canvas,6’6” x 4’4”. Museum of Modern Art.Rembrandt van Rijn, Carcass of Beef,1655. Oil on panel, 37” x 27”. Art Instituteof Chicago.
Francis Bacon, Painting, 1946. Oil oncanvas, 6’6” x 4’4”. Museum ofModern Art.Chaïm Soutine, Carcass of Beef, 1926.Oil on canvas, 45 ¾ x 31 ¾”. MinneapolisInstitute of Arts, Minnesota,
Postwar European ArtFrancis Bacon (1909-1992)• Like many countries in Europe, Britain’sartists made a return to the figure.• Bacon was a self-taught artist whosesubject matter focused on the existentialand macabre.• His paintings often visited the work ofBaroque artists with moderncommentary.• His Head VI from 1949 quotesVelázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent andtransforms the pope into a grotesqueskeletal-like figure.– Some scholars interpret this ascommentary on gays in the Catholicchurch or its role in WW II.Francis Bacon, Head VI, 1949. Oil oncanvas, 36 ⅝” x 30 ⅛”. Arts CouncilCollection, London.
Francis Bacon, Head VI, 1949. Oil oncanvas, 36 ⅝” x 30 ⅛”. Arts CouncilCollection, London.Diego Velázquez , Portrait of Pope InnocentX, 1650. Oil on canvas, 25 ½” x 19 ½”.Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome.
Postwar European ArtLucian Freud (1922-2011)• Grandson of Sigmund Freud.• Recognized while he was aliveas one of Britain’s premieremodern painters.• His style is rooted inunapologetic realism.• His figures strike provocativeand unconventional poses.• His portraits are committed tothe realizing the physicalcharacteristics of the viewer.• The integrity of the form isparamount in his paintings.• His portraits maintain thetradition of the NewObjectivity of the 1920sWeimar Germany. Lucian Freud, Girl with a white dog, 1951-52.Oil on canvas, 30” x 40”. Tate, London.
Postwar European ArtLucian Freud (1922-2011)• The nude figures was the dominantsubject of Freud’s work.• The 1950s witnessed the loosening ofFreud’s brushwork, however his gaze wasunrelenting.• His models were most often friends andrelatives, with the occasional commissionfrom celebrities and wealthy dignitaries,including the Queen.• His portraits, although recognized by theart world drew criticism by manybecause of their “ugly” treatment of thesubject.• The topography of Freud’s paintings methis intention was to capture the livingquality of flesh, muscle, and blood.Lucian Freud, Reflection (Self-Portrait), 1983-85. Oil on canvas, 22⅛” x 20 ⅛”. Private Collection.
Lucian Freud, Portrait of QueenElizabeth II, 2001. Oil on canvas,9” x 6”. Private Collection.Lucian Freud, Portrait of Kate Moss, 2002.Oil on canvas, ~6’ x 4’. Private Collection.
Postwar European ArtHenry Moore (1896-1986)• During WWII he made thousands ofdrawings of the underground air-raidshelters in London.• 1930s Moore defends his artisticpersonality against the styles of theday.• Like his contemporary, FrancisBacon, Moore studied the effects ofthe war on the human condition.– His is a more introspective psychologicalstudy than the outwardly aggressiveworks of Bacon.Henry Moore, Study for Tube ShelterPerspective, 1940-41. Pencil, wax,crayon, colored crayon, watercolor,wash, pen and ink, 10 ½” x 6 ½”.Collection Mrs. Henry Moore, England.
Postwar European ArtHenry Moore (1896-1986)• Postwar English sculpture can besummed up in the work of HenryMoore and Barbara Hepworth.• Always faithful to his origins inabstraction, he continued to workin a biomorphic mod even at itsmost reductive.• Early 1950s brought newexperiments in his work whichresulted in more naturalistic,attenuated figures.• His late were executed for themost part in bronze which giveseach piece its own range of effectsfrom the most jagged to the mostbiomorphically finished.Henry Moore, King and Queen, 1952-53.Bronze, height 63 ½”. Hirshorn Museum andSculpture Garden, Smithsonian Museum,Washington, D.C.
Henry Moore, King and Queen, 1952-53. Bronze, height 63 ½”. HirshornMuseum and Sculpture Garden,Smithsonian Museum, Washington,D.C.Yuny and his wife, Renenutet, early Dynasty 19, late reignof Sety--early reign of Ramesses II,ca. 1290-1270B.C.Limestone, h. 2’ 10”. Metropolitan Museum of Art,NY.
Postwar European ArtBarbara Hepworth (1903-1975)• Like Moore, she too had to defendher style amidst the styles of 1930smodernism.• Pieces are small in scale with greatimpact.• She most preferred to work in woodor stone.• She was inspired to create hergroups after watching peoplewalking thru town centers in Venice.Barbara Hepworth, Two Segments andSphere, 1935-36. Marble, 10 ½” x 10 ½” x 8½”. Private Collection.
Postwar European ArtBarbara Hepworth (1903-1975)• Discovered personal style thru aseries of Groups.• Her groups were related to herearlier compositions, all ofwhich capture her interest inCycladic sculpture.• Much of her 1950s work was aresponse to the landscape ofrocks, cliffs, and the seasurrounding her home inCornwall along with Neolithicstone menhirs (stones) thatpopulated the areas landscape.Barbara Hepworth, Group II (Evocation),1952. Marble, height 9”. PrivateCollection.
Barbara Hepworth, Group II (Evocation),1952. Marble, height 9”. Private Collection.Figurine of a Cycladic idol, from Syros (Cyclades), ca.2500-2300BCE. Marble; 1’6” high. MetropolitanMuseum of Art, NY.Sumerian votive statues, Abu Temple, c. 2400BCE. Marble, various size from 3” to 24”.Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
Postwar European Art• Her work recalls that of Giacometti’s figures with Tanguy’sSurrealist landscapes.Alberto Giacometti, The Forest(Composition with Seven Figures andOne Head), 1950. Painted bronze, 22”x 24” x 19 ¼”. Metropolitan Museumof Art, NYC.Barbara Hepworth, Group II (Evocation), 1952.Marble, height 9”. Private Collection.
Postwar European ArtRobert Doisneau (1912-1994)• French photographer.• Roamed the streets of Parislooking for what he consideredthe “unimaginable image withinthe marvels of daily life”.• His approach was witty with aserious whimsy.– His work managed to brightena city that was distraughtafter the war.Robert Doisneau, The Sideways Glance,1948-1949. Gelatin-silver print.
Postwar European ArtRobert Doisneau (1912-1994)• Doisneau focused on theeveryday activities ofParisians.• His work brought an air oflaughter, enjoyment, folly toan otherwise damagedcountry feeling the pangs ofexistentialist angst.Robert Doisneau, Kiss By the Hotel de Ville, 1950.Gelatin-silver print.