Art of the 20th
Century to 1950
20th-century art and what it became
known as — modern art — really
began with modernism in the late
Nineteenth-century movements of
Post-Impressionism, Art Nouveau
and Symbolism led to the first
twentieth-century art movements
of Fauvism in France and Die
Brücke ("The Bridge") in
The Art of the Fauves
Henri Matisse, Self-Portrait, 1906
Oil on canvas, 21 5/8 x 18 1/8 in.,
Statens Museum for Kunst,
Fauvism is the style of les Fauves (French for "the
wild beasts"), a loose group of early twentieth-
century Modern artists whose works emphasized
painterly qualities and strong colour over the
representational or realistic values retained by
Impressionism. While Fauvism as a style began
around 1900 and continued beyond 1910, the
movement as such lasted only a few years, 1904–
1908, and had three exhibitions. The leaders of the
movement were Henri Matisse and André Derain.
The paintings of the Fauves
were characterized by seemingly
wild brush work and strident
colors, while their subject
matter had a high degree of
simplification and abstraction
33-1 Henri Matisse,
Woman with the Hat,
1905, oil on canvas, 3’ x
2’, San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art
Matisse is about color, the luminosity of
(Matisse wrote) “…we rejected imitative
colors, and that with pure colors we obtained
stronger reactions …”
Color became the formal element most
responsible for pictorial coherence and the
primary conveyor of meaning.
Matisse, Madame Matisse (The
Green Line), 1905, oil on canvas, 16”
x 13”, State Art Museum,
Figure 33-2 HENRI MATISSE, Red Room (Harmony in
Red), 1908–1909. Oil on canvas, approx. 5’ 11” x 8’ 1”. State
Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg.
Matisse, The Joy of Life, 1906, oil on canvas, 6” x 10’, Barnes Foundation, Merion,
Matisse. The Dance, 1910, oil on canvas 8‘ x 13‘, Hermitage, St. Petersburg
Figure 33-3 ANDRÉ DERAIN, The Dance, 1906. Oil on canvas, 6’ 7/8” x 6’ 10 1/4”. Fridart Foundation, London.
The Fauves: Andre Derain
André Derain, Mountains at Collioure, 1905, National
Gallery of Art, Washington, John Hay Whitney Collection
Derain, London Bridge.1906. Oil on canvas, 26 x 39" (66 x 99.1 cm), Museum of Modern
Art, New York.
The German Expressionists
Die BrückeDie Brücke
Violent juxtapositions of color
Wrenching distortions of forms
A reaction to the dehumanization of industrial, urban
Der Blaue ReiterDer Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) :They believed in
the promotion of modern art; the connection between
visual art and music; the spiritual and symbolic
associations of colour; and a spontaneous, intuitive
approach to painting. Members were interested in
European medieval art and primitivism, as well as
the contemporary, non-figurative art scene in France.
Die Brücke (The Bridge) was a group of German expressionist
artists formed in Dresden in 1905.
Founding members were Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig
Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Later members were
Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and Otto Mueller. The seminal
group had a major impact on the evolution of modern art in
the 20th century and the creation of expressionism.
Die Brücke is sometimes compared to the Fauves. Both
movements shared interests in primitivist art. Both shared an
interest in the expressing of extreme emotion through high-
keyed color that was very often non-naturalistic. Both
movements employed a drawing technique that was crude, and
both groups shared an antipathy to complete abstraction. The
Die Brücke artists' emotionally agitated paintings of city streets
and sexually charged events transpiring in country settings
make their French counterparts, the Fauves, seem tame by
33-4 Ernesr Kirchner, Street, Dresden, 1908, oil on canvas, 5’ x 7’, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Die Brücke (Bridge) School: Kirchner and Nolde
Kirchner, Street, Berlin, 1913,
oil on canvas, 48” x 38”,
Museum of Modern Art, New
Kirchner, Girl with a Japanese Umbrella, 1909, oil on canvas, 37” x 32”,
Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Germany
Figure 33-5 EMIL NOLDE, Saint Mary of Egypt among Sinners, 1912. Left panel of a triptych, oil on canvas, approx. 2’
10” x 3’ 3”. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg.
Nolde, Dance around the Golden Calf, 1910,Oil on canvas. 88 x 105.5 cm, Staatsgalerie moderner Kunst, Munich
Figure 33-6 VASSILY KANDINSKY, Improvisation 28 (second version), 1912. Oil on canvas, 3’ 7 7/8”
x 5’ 3 7/8”. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (gift of Solomon R. Guggenheim, 1937).
Der Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) School: Kandinsky and Marc
Kandinsky, Improvisation # 28 (1912)
Movement toward abstraction; representational objects are suggested rather than
Strongly articulated use of black lines
Colors seem to shade around line forms
Kandinsky, Improvisation # 30 (War Theme) , 1913, oil on canvas, 43” x 43”, Art Institute of Chicago
Kandinsky, Improvisation # 30 (War Theme) , 1913, oil on canvas, 43” x 43”, Art Institute of Chicago
This is a spiritual painting,
not foretelling the coming
great war. Kandinsky’s
theme here is the
destructive prelude to the
Second Coming of Christ.
Kandinsky, Panel for
Edwin R. Campbell, # 1,
1914, oil on canvas, 64”
x 32”, Museum of
Modern Art, New York
Franz Marc, The Little Yellow Horses, 1912, oil on canvas, Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart,Germany
Marc, The Large Blue Horses, 1911, oil on canvas, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Figure 33-7 FRANZ MARC, Fate of the Animals, 1913. Oil on canvas, 6’ 4 3/4” x 8’ 9 1/2”. Kunstmuseum, Basel.
Picasso, (Blue Period) The Old
Guitarist, 1903, oil on panel, Art
Institute of Chicago
The Blue Period is the period
between 1900 and 1904 when
Picasso painted essentially
monochromatic paintings in
shades of blue and blue-green,
only occasionally warmed by
other colors. These somber
works, inspired by Spain but
mostly painted in Paris, are now
some of his most popular
works, although he had
difficulty selling them at the
Picasso, The Blind
Man's Meal, 1903,
Oil on canvas; 37
1/2 x 37 1/4 in.
Museum of Art,
Picasso, (Rose Period) Harlequin on a
Red Armchair, 1905, ink / watercolor,
32” x 24”
The Rose Period signifies the time when the
style of Picasso's painting used cheerful
orange and pink colors in contrast to the
cool, somber tones of the previous Blue
Period. It lasted from 1904 to 1906.
Harlequins, circus performers and clowns
appear frequently in the Rose Period and
will populate Picasso's paintings at various
stages through the rest of his long career.
The harlequin, a comedic character usually
depicted in checkered patterned clothing,
became a personal symbol for Picasso.
The Rose Period has been considered
French influenced, while the Blue Period
more Spanish influenced, although both
styles emerged while Picasso was living in
Picasso, (Rose Period) Family of Saltimbanques, 1905, oil on
canvas, 84” x 90”, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Figure 33-8 PABLO PICASSO, Gertrude
Stein, 1906–1907. Oil on canvas, 3’ 3 3/8”
x 2’ 8”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New
York (bequest of Gertrude Stein, 1947).
Ivory belt mask of a Queen Mother,
from Benin, Nigeria, mid-16th
century. Ivory and iron, 9 3/8” high.
Head of a King, from Ife, 13th
Century, brass, height: 11.5 inches
1906, 36” x 28”,
Philadelphia Museum of
Avant-garde art movement pioneered by George Braque and
Pablo Picasso, joined by Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Robert
Delaunay, Henri Le dFauconnier, Fernand Léger and Juan Gris
that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and
inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture.
Cubism has been considered the most influential art movement of
the 20th century. The term is broadly used in association with a
wide variety of art produced in Paris (Montmartre,
Montparnasse and Puteaux) during the 1910s and extending
through the 1920s. In Cubist artwork, objects are analyzed,
broken up and reassemble in an abstracted form—instead of
depicting objects from one viewpoint, the artist depicts the
subject from a multitude of viewpoints to represent the subject in
a greater context.
Figure 33-9 PABLO
PICASSO, Les Demoiselles
d’Avignon, June–July 1907.
Oil on canvas, 8’ x 7’ 8”.
Museum of Modern Art,
New York (acquired
through the Lillie P. Bliss
“ a tension between
Picasso, Dance of the Veils,
1907, oil on canvas, 150 x
100 cm, Hermitage, St.
Figure 33-16 ALEKSANDR ARCHIPENKO, Woman Combing Her Hair, 1915.
Bronze, approx. 1’ 1 3/4” high. Museum of Modern Art, New York (bequest of Lillie
Figure 33-17 JULIO GONZÁLEZ, Woman Combing Her Hair, ca. 1930–
1933. Iron, 4’ 9” high. Moderna Museet, Stockholm.
Artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century.
It emphasized and glorified themes associated with contemporary concepts of
the future, including speed, technology, youth and violence, and objects such as
the car, the airplane and the industrial city. The Futurists practised in every
medium of art, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design,
industrial design, interior design, urban design, theatre, film, fashion, textiles,
literature, music, architecture and even gastronomy. Key figures of the
movement include the Italians MarinettiBoccioni, Severini,etc.
Important works include its seminal piece of the literature, Marinetti's
Manifesto of Futurism, as well as Boccioni's sculpture, Unique Forms of
Continuity in Space, and Balla's painting, Abstract Speed + Sound (pictured).
Futurism influenced art movements such as Art Deco, Constructivism,
Surrealism, Dada, and to a greater degree, Precisionism, Rayonism, and
Figure 33-19 GIACOMO BALLA, Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash, 1912. Oil on canvas, 2’ 11 3/8” x 3’ 7 1/4”.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York (bequest of A. Conger Goodyear, gift of George F. Goodyear, 1964).
Figure 33-20 UMBERTO BOCCIONI,
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space,
1913 (cast 1931). Bronze, 3’ 7 7/8” high x
2’ 10 7/8” x 1’ 3 3/4”. Museum of
Modern Art, New York (acquired through
the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest).
Figure 33-21 GINO SEVERINI, Armored
Train, 1915. Oil on canvas, 3’ 10” x 2’ 10 1/8”.
Collection of Richard S. Zeisler, New York.
Dada: A State of Mind
Dada or DadaismDada or Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in
the early 20th century. Many claim Dada began in Zurich, Switzerland
in 1916, spreading to Berlin shortly thereafter but the height of New
York Dada was the year before in 1915.
Dada was born out of negative reaction to the horrors of World
War I. This international movement was begun by a group of
artist and poets associated with the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich.
Dada rejected reason and logic, prizing nonsense, irrationality and
intuition. The origin of the name Dada is unclear; some believe
that it is a nonsensical word. Others maintain that it originates
from the Romanian artists Tristan Tzara's and Marcel Janco's
frequent use of the words da, da, meaning yes, yes in the
Romanian language. Another theory says that the name "Dada"
came during a meeting of the group when a paper knife stuck into
a French-German dictionary happened to point to 'dada', a French
word for 'hobbyhorse'.
The movement primarily involved visual
arts, literature, poetry, art manifestoes, art
theory, theatre, and graphic design, and
concentrated its anti-war politics through
a rejection of the prevailing standards in
art through anti-art cultural works. In
addition to being anti-war, Dada was also
anti-bourgeois and had political affinities
with the radical left.
Key figures in the movement included Hugo Ball, Emmy
Hennings, Hans Arp, Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch,
Johannes Baader, Tristan Tzara, Francis Picabia,
Richard Huelsenbeck, Georg Grosz, John Heartfield,
Marcel Duchamp, Beatrice Wood, Kurt Schwitters, and
Hans Richter, among others.
Figure 33-22 JEAN ARP, Collage Arranged
According to the Laws of Chance, 1916–1917. Torn
and pasted paper, 1’ 7 1/8” x 1’ 1 5/8”. Museum of
Modern Art, New York (purchase).
Dada is the groundwork to abstract
art and sound poetry, a starting point
for performance art, a prelude to
postmodernism, an influence on pop
art, a celebration of antiart to be later
embraced for anarcho-political uses
in the 1960s and the movement that
lay the foundation for Surrealism.
MARCEL DUCHAMP, The Bride Stripped
Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large
Glass), 1915-23. Oil, lead, wire, foil, dust, and
varnish on glass, 9’ 1 1/2” x 5’ 9 1/8”.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
(Katherine S. Dreier Bequest).
Figure 33-25 HANNAH HÖCH, Cut with
the Kitchen Knife Dada through the Last
Weimar Beer Belly Cultural Epoch of
Germany, 1919–1920. Photomontage, 3’ 9” x
2’ 11 1/2”. Neue Nationalgalerie, Staatliche
Art techniques developed
The Dadaists imitated the techniques
developed during the cubist
movement through the pasting of cut
pieces of paper items, but extended
their art to encompass items such as
transportation tickets, maps, plastic
wrappers, etc. to portray aspects of
life, rather than representing objects
viewed as still life.
Figure 33-26 KURT SCHWITTERS, Merz
19, 1920. Paper collage, approx. 7 1/4” x 5
7/8”. Yale University Art Gallery, New
Haven, (gift of Collection Société Anonyme).
Marcel Duchamp began to view the manufactured objects of his
collection as objects of art, which he called "readymades". He
would add signatures and titles to some, converting them into
artwork that he called "readymade aided" or "rectified readymades".
Duchamp wrote: "One important characteristic was the short
sentence which I occasionally inscribed on the 'readymade.' That
sentence, instead of describing the object like a title, was meant to
carry the mind of the spectator towards other regions more verbal.
Sometimes I would add a graphic detail of presentation which in
order to satisfy my craving for alliterations, would be called
'readymade aided.'" One such example of Duchamp's readymade
works is the urinal that was turned onto its back, signed "R. Mutt",
titled "Fountain", and submitted to the Society of Independent
Artists exhibition that year.
MARCEL DUCHAMP, Fountain, (second version), 1950
(original version produced 1917). Ready-made glazed
sanitary china with black paint, 12” high. Philadelphia
Museum of Art,
Philadelphia (purchased with proceeds from the sale of
deaccessioned works of art).
Marcel Duchamp, Readymade, 1913,
Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Dadaists – the "monteurs"
(mechanics) – used scissors and
glue rather than paintbrushes
and paints to express their views
of modern life through images
presented by the media. A
variation on the collage
technique, photomontage utilized
actual or reproductions of real
photographs printed in the press.
In Cologne, Max Ernst used
images from World War I to
illustrate messages of the
destruction of war.
The assemblages were three-The assemblages were three-
dimensional variations of thedimensional variations of the
collage –the assembly ofcollage –the assembly of
everyday objects to produceeveryday objects to produce
meaningful or meaninglessmeaningful or meaningless
(relative to the war) pieces of(relative to the war) pieces of
work including war objects andwork including war objects and
trash. Objects were nailed,trash. Objects were nailed,
screwed or fastened together inscrewed or fastened together in
different fashions. Assemblagesdifferent fashions. Assemblages
could be seen in the round orcould be seen in the round or
could be hung on a wall.could be hung on a wall.
Figure 33-31 EDWARD WESTON, Nude, 1925. Platinum print. Collection, Center for Creative Photography,
University of Arizona, Tucson.
Figure 33-32 MAN RAY, Cadeau (Gift), ca. 1958
(replica of 1921 original). Painted flatiron with row
of 13 tacks with heads glued to the bottom, 6 1/8”
high, 3 5/8” wide, 4 1/2” deep. Museum of
Modern Art, New York (James Thrall Soby Fund).
Figure 33-33 MARSDEN HARTLEY, Portrait of a
German Officer, 1914. Oil on canvas, 5' 8 1/4” x 3' 5 3/8”.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Alfred