Category: Modern Art
Under this quality of visual excitement, support and renew it often runs a strong current of feeling close to religion. It may take the form of an ever new wonder-“The mystical quality of the object has always kept me spellbound,” Lyonel Feininger wrote. It may be admitted pantheism of Lee Gatch. It may be the mystical identification Ibram Lassaw self with the whole order of things: “Man is an integral part of the overall ecology of the universe and fulfills its function… with plants, animals, stars and galaxies I nature… ”
This widespread feeling that nature is a more convenient storage of forms, colors or symbols, it has ultimate significance in itself than the visible, but always mysterious manifestation of an eternal order, is reflected in the attitude of these artists for their art. Painting and sculpture, for them, are means to an end – the end being the exploration and revelation of the ultimate meaning that the limits that can be penetrated by reason and intuition.
Such an attitude is in direct opposition to the very exaltation of “the primacy of the environment”, which combines the spokesperson Sonya Rudikoff with abstract expressionism and even with the vanguard of all ages. While the relationship of the abstract expressionists in nature will be discussed later, it is interesting that an artist, Perle Fine, who was closely associated with them, writes: “When I got my studio in the country, and the wonder and grandeur of the natural world captivated me completely, I felt I must find new ways to express these things, “and his recent use of gold and silver in his paintings , was in response to this experience, rather than purely technical claims.
Finally, one can perhaps say that the work of those artists who are consciously and consist mainly with nature tends to be more objective than subjective, although these terms are slippery. In a sense, all art is subjective. Even the search for the essence is deeply involved in the response of the artist about it, “he is interested in what he” feels “about it and painted, therefore, that the result is often called abstract” , said Mark Tobey. At times, the answer seems much more important than what he does, and almost nothing to do with any inherent quality at its source.
When Louise Bourgeois created the garden at night, she was not at all concerned with gardens, but seeks to objectify experience recurrent mixed attraction and fear inspired by the dark mysterious hidden under the plants, even under a clear night sky. Nevertheless, the majority of this group of abstract artists to maintain a certain balance between the inherent nature of things and their own reactions to them.
For the past hundred years, abstract art has been a dominant mode of expression in America. But in its character, most of our abstract painting and sculpture pays small fealty to the concepts of those pure abstractionists, who hold that the work of art should be a completely meaningful object in itself, of solely esthetic significance, hermetically sealed against all other associations.
In Europe, as George Hamilton pointed out in the catalogue of his “Object and Image” exhibition at Yale, this atlitude is historically associated with the early modern movemen in its heroic break with tradition and is diametrically opposed to a more recent trend toward an abstract but evocative imagery which reflects man’s consciousness and inner being. In America,
ew even of our pioneer abstractionists could be called purists. The latter began to appear here only in the 1930’s (many from abroad), and while they still form an active and vital group, they have always been a minority. Our tendency, more marked than ever today, has been toward kinds of abstraction which draw on observed reality to create, variously, a conscious imagery, an unconscious imagery or, at the least, a kind of organic and “natural” teleology of form.
It is our purpose here to determine exactly what the relation is between American abstract, art and one traditionally important aspect of observed reality — nature. The inquiry is not in any sense a reactionary back-to-nature thesis. It is, rather, an effort to understand the character of the abstract vision and especially the personal attitudes and methods of various abstract artists in dealing with nature.
These terms are used in their widest and commonest meanings: “abstraction” to describe any art not clearly based on recognizable visual reality, “nature” as the all-embracing universe about us, the tangible world of land and water, the intangible world of light, sky and air, the eternal forces of germination, growth and death which make up the cycles of life and season — with man and man-made things alone excluded.
It is apparent that this is but part of a larger question, the relation of’ abstract art to all experience. Still, it is a significant part, for the multitudinous aspects of nature are inescapable, a part of every man’s environment. Since the Renaissance they have been the timeless themes of art, and there is ample evidence that they continue to move, and sometimes perplex, many abstract artists just as powerfully.
By focusing on this single but universal area of experience and avoiding the moral and social problems inherent in man and his works, we can perhaps dig deeper and hope to reveal certain truths about the abstract artist’s approach to reality, which will be valid in other areas as well.
Such a restriction does not imply dehumanization, for the artist has always found in nature compelling symbols of man’s own “nature,” especially of his relation to the organic world. And even when symbolism is absent, nature inevitably assumes human meaning as it passes through the artist’s eye, mind and emotions to his canvas. In Balcomb Greene’s words, “One humanizes nature even as he sees it.”
Francisco Goya, considered to be “the Father of Modern Art,” began his painting career just after the late Baroque period. In expressing his thoughts and feelings frankly, as he did, he became the pioneer of new artistic tendencies which were to come to fruition in the 19th century. Two trends dominated the art of his contradictory; they actually were not. Together they represented the reaction against previous conceptions of art and the desire for a new form of expression.
In order to understand the scope of Goya’s art, and to appreciate the principles which governed his development and tremendous versatility, it is essential to realise that his work extended over a period of more than 60 years, for he continued to draw and paint until his 82nd year.
The importance of this factor is evident between his attitude towards life in his youth, when he accepted the world as it was quite happily, in his manhood when he began to criticise it, and in his old age when he became embittered and disillusioned with people and society. Furthermore, the world changed completely during his lifetime. The society, in which he had achieved a great success disappeared during the Napoleonic war. Long before the end of the 18th century Goya had already turned towards his new ideals and expressed them in his graphic art and in his paintings.
As an artist, Goya was by temperament far removed from the classicals. In a few works he approached Classical style, but in the greater part of his work the Romantic triumphed.
Born in Zaragoza, Spain, he found employment as a young teenager under the mediocre artist José Luzán, from whom he learned to draw and as was customary, copied prints of several masters.
At the age of 17 he went to Madrid. His style was influenced by two painters who were working there. The last of the great Venetian painters—Tiepolo and the rather cold and efficient neo-classical painter—Antonio Raphael Mengs. In 1763 he entered a competition at the Royal Academy of San Fernando, and failed, as he did in the year 1766. In 1770, he want to Rome and survived by living off his works of art.
The legendary American painter of pop art and the artist, Andy Warhol defined a generation of conceptual painting. Considered a cultural icon, in addition to a prominent painter, Warhol’s transition from artist to jointly define a functional middle generations.
Most of the works of Warhol since 1960 where he painted illustrations of different interpretations of cultural symbols. Accordingly, it is the strongest identified with pop cultural art, which includes representatives from advertising and cartoons. He used the painting techniques dropwise close to the abstract expression art, and came to define a style of American culture through his works.
By painting symbols of American culture in a new light, a new brand of American culture has emerged through the expression. If work has not been widely accepted at first, they came to represent American classics over time.
The most famous work is the icon Warhol Campbell’s Soup can, and he titled his work simply on the basis of the images they represent. Warhol also known pop icons of his era, paintings and works on interpretation of 1960 celebrities then. Many consider his light heart works, but during a period in 1962, he drew what would come to represent his death and whites disaster, including Red Car Crash and Disaster Orange showing human frailty behind the images.
An eclectic character, works by Warhol and interpretations reflect a sense of exploration in the 1960s, and his own personal research. A complete artist, Warhol also produced music, printed books and films, helping to shape an emerging genre Avante garde.
Some 900 years ago an extraordinary occurrence took place on Market Day in the English midlands town of Coventry. Two monks at St. Albans Abbey in Hertfordshire first recorded this amazing story in Latin. Roger of Wendover wrote of it in the twelfth century and Mathew Paris in the early thirteenth century. As the Abbey stood at an important road junction, it would seem that the monks may have heard the story from travellers who were on their way from the Midlands to London.
The astonishing tale that has come down to us through the centuries, is that sometime in the eleventh-century a proud, pious lady rode through Coventry on Market Day completely naked, covered by nothing but her long hair!
Was this true? Apparently so! Who was this pious medieval streaker?
Lady Godiva was the lady, wife of Leofric, the Earl of Mercia. Earl Leofric was one of the all-powerful lords who ruled England under the Danish King Canute.
Joan Miró i Ferrà (April 20,1893 – December 25,1983) was a world renowned Spanish Catalan painter, sculptor, and ceramist who was born in the sea port city of Barcelona.
Miro was the son of a watchmaking father and a goldsmith mother, he was exposed to the arts from a very young age. There have been some drwaings recovered by Miro dating to 1901, when he was only 8 years old. Miro enrolled at the School of Industrial and Fine Arts in Barcelona until 1910; during his attendance he was taught by Modest Urgell and Josep Pascó.
After overcoming a serious bout of typhoid fever in 1911, Miro decided to devote his life entirely to painting by attending the school of art taught by Francesc Galí. He studied at La Lonja School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, and in 1918 set up his first individual exhibition in the Dalmau Galleries, in the same city. His works before 1920 (the date of his first trip to Paris) reflect the influence of different trends, like the pure and brilliant colors used in Fauvism, shapes taken from cubism, influences from folkloric Catalan art and Roman frescos from the churches.
His trip to Paris introduced him to and developed his trend of surrealist painting. In 1921, he showed his first individual exhibition in Paris, at La Licorne Gallery. In 1928, he exhibited with a group of surrealists in the Pierre Gallery, also in Paris, although Miró was always to maintain his independent qualities with respect to groups and ideologies.
From 1929-1930, Miró began to take interest in the object as such, in the form of collages. This was a practice which was to lead to his making of surrealist sculptures. His tormented monsters appeared during this decade, which gave way to the consolidation of his plastic vocabulary. He also experimented with many other artistic forms, such as engraving, lithography, water colors, pastels, and painting over copper. What is particularly highlighted from this period, are the two ceramic murals which he made for the UNESCO building in Paris (The Wall of the Moon and the Wall of the Sun, 1957-59).
It was at the end of the 60´s when his final period was marked and which lasted until his death. During this time, he concentrated more and more on monumental and public works. He was characterized by the body language and freshness with which he carried out his canvasses, as well as the special attention he paid to material and the stamp he received from informalism. He concentrated his interest on the symbol, not giving too much importance to the representing theme, but to the way the symbol emerged as the piece of work.
In 1976 the Joan Miró Foundation Centre of Contemporary Art Study was officially opened in the city of Barcelona and in 1979, four years before his death, he was named Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Barcelona.
The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War ( July 18, 1870) found Claude Monet at Le Havre, where he remained as that fateful summer wore on. On September 2 came the German breakthrough at Sedan; Napoleon III capitulated and on September 4 the Third Republic was proclaimed. Leaving Camille and little Jean in Normandy, Monet sailed for England in September. Bazille volunteered for the Zouaves and joined a line regiment in August (he was killed in action at Beaune-la-Rolande on November 28).
Manet, as a confirmed republican, waited for the Empire to collapse and then enlisted (as did Degas) in an artillery unit of the National Guard. Pissarro, living at Louveciennes, found himself in the path of the advancing Germans and fled to England, leaving behind hundreds of his pictures together with many that Monet had stored with him. Torn from their frames and used as floor-mats and aprons by the Prussian soldiery, who turned his house into the regimental butchershop, all were destroyed — an irreparable loss, depriving us of by far the greater part of Pissarro’s pre-1870 output and a substantial part of Monet’s. To these losses, in the case of Monet, must be added the many canvases which he himself ripped to shreds in fits of despair or to prevent their being seized by his creditors.
Things went no better for him in London than in France. The English public showed complete indifference to his work. He submitted some pictures to an exhibition at the Royal Academy, but they were rejected. He had the good luck, however, to run into Daubigny, who introduced him to his own dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, also a refugee in London, who had opened a gallery at 158 Bond Street. This meeting was providential not only for Monet but also for Pissarro, who met Durand-Ruel at the same time. “Without him we’d have starved to death in London,” he wrote later. But in spite of his enthusiasm for their work and his persistence in bringing it to public notice, Durand-Ruel failed to sell a single one of their pictures in England. He nevertheless went on buying canvases from Monet and Pissarro, and thus enabled them to keep afloat.
Monet made several views of the Thames in addition to some studies in Hyde Park in which the figures are very roughly silhouetted against a simplified landscape composed of broad, flat planes of color. Pissarro tells of their visits to the museums and how much they were impressed by the English landscape painters, by Constable and Turner in particular. Monet later denied that he had been influenced by Turner at that time, and indeed it is only in the much later series of fog effects on the Thames ( 1904) that Turner’s influence becomes apparent.
In the summer of 1871 Monet left England for Holland, where he painted some landscapes in which the mighty forms of windmills, outlined against the immensity of the sky above the canals in the foreground, are treated in a free, sparkling style very much like that of his Trouville seascapes of 1870.
Life had gone back to normal in Paris now and artists were returning to their old haunts. The group that had formed around Manet in the late sixties now formed again, but this time it centered on Monet. Even before his military service, as early as 1859, Monet had met Pissarro at the Académie Suisse; after his discharge from the army, at Gleyre’s studio in 1862, he had met Renoir, Bazille and Sisley. Monet thus formed the link between the group at Gleyre’s and the group at the Académie Suisse, where Pissarro had been joined by Cézanne and Guillaumin.
In December 1871 Monet settled at Argenteuil, on the western outskirts of Paris. After a visit to Le Havre in the spring of 1872, he left for Holland, eager to rework a vein that had proved so fruitful in the previous year. It is difficult to distinguish between the pictures made during these two stays in Holland, few of them being dated. Assignable to 1872, however, are those which foreshadow the fully developed technique of his Argenteuil period, those, in other words, in which we find a breaking-up of color into a patchwork of small brushstrokes and a new emphasis on atmospheric vibration.
In the autumn of 1872 Monet returned to Argenteuil where he lived for the next six years, with occasional expeditions to Paris, as is proved by two views of the Boulevard des Capucines in winter. He saw much of Renoir and they often worked together on the Seine banks. Monet’s first river scenes, in 1872-1873, were still built up in separate, unblended strokes and patches of color. A good example is Pleasure Boats which, enclosed in a triple frame with a Sisley and a Pissarro, forms a triptych bequeathed to the Louvre by Monsieur May.
As soon as they appeared, the Water Lilies of Claude Monet old age, those hymns to light, plant life and water, incurred the displeasure of both the well-wishers and the detractors of Impressionism. The first were baffled by Monet’s new manner; the second were blind to the new depth of vision these works revealed. Misunderstood and neglected for over thirty years, the Water Lilies are at last receiving the recognition they deserve.
Having had the privilege, from childhood up, of seeing and familiarizing myself with them in the setting at Giverny in which they were created (the only setting, let me add, that can do justice to them), it reflects no particular credit on me to say that personally I have never shared that incomprehension. To see the Water Lilies in the garden studio especially built to house them was to see them in natural, harmonious conjunction with radiant summer days spent in the garden at Giverny beside the pond which inspired them. It was a delight which those who experienced it will never forget.
I cannot deny that, for me at least, the spell is irremediably broken in the Musée de l’Orangerie, in that bleak back room which, designed especially for the Water Lilies in 1925, nevertheless baldly reduces them to a mural decoration — and they are ever so much more than that. The way in which they are encased there, in a long horizontal belt around the concave wall, restricts them to the narrow, perfectly extraneous function of emphasizing the ellipsoidal line of the architecture.
Monet himself contributed to this over-modest setting by approving the whole project at the time and by doing his utmost to adapt his panels to it. To break and diversify the even horizontal flow of the paintings around the room, he sprinkled the foreground with willow fronds suggestive of the decorative style of art nouveau, fashionable around 1900. At the same time they introduce a third dimension which strikes an uncalled-for contrast with the sheer vertical plane of the water surface; the latter, with its rich play of light effects, was theme enough in itself.
The setting, then, in which the Water Lilies have been exhibited to the public in part explains both the eclipse they underwent for over a quarter of a century and the keen revival of interest in them caused by the recent revelation of further Water Lilies hitherto hidden from view in the studio at Giverny. The evolution of taste and ideas in the course of the past halfcentury explains the rest.
This evolution, as far as painting is concerned, began with the dissensions that led to the break-up of the impressionist movement in the eighties. While Monet went on, singlemindedly pursuing the subtlest, most elusive effects and variations of light and atmosphere, Pissarro, Renoir, Cézanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin each branched out in different directions. The Neo-Impressionism of Seurat, with which Pissarro threw in his lot in 1886, was both a logical development of Impressionism and a reaction against it. The systematic, scientific application of the principles which Monet discovered and applied by trial and error signified in effect a tacit condemnation of the intuitive, empirical nature of his art.
As for Renoir, after an uneasy interlude in which he toyed with a harshly linear, Ingresque style, he finally reconciled his concern for form with his love of light, fusing both in an inimitable glorification of volume saturated with color. Cézanne, however, always deferring to his “sensations,” gradually exacted from them not an atmospheric so much as a geological revelation of the visible world. After a fling at Neo-Impressionism, whose narrow harness failed to hold him long in check, Van Gogh hit his stride at Arles, throwing off every constraint in a jubilant, preexpressionist exaltation of color and line. But it was the symbolism of Gauguin which worked the most radical transformation of Impressionism. Gauguin sacrificed the visual aspect of things to the expression, in terms of line and color, of the “idea” they engendered in the mind. He rejected outright the whole battery of naturalistic effects calculated to suggest space and light, and adopted flat colors and heavy contour lines.
The upshot of these powerfully diverging currents was Fauvism, which abandoned every semblance of fidelity to outward appearances in favor of a rapturous glorification of color — but color handled more plastically than it was by the slightly later followers of Van Gogh, with their bias toward expressionist distortion. In spite of this reaction, however, Fauvism and Expressionism remained, like Impressionism, essentially dependent on the sensation induced by the object.
This was no longer true of Cubism, which rejected the outer world as it appears to our senses and built up another one out of a select assortment of elements artificially reassembled in the mind. This essentially cerebral art stood at the opposite pole from the essentially sensuous art of Impressionism. No wonder then that the meat of the one was the poison of the other. The rise of Cubism and the era that followed, during which its influence spread and was assimilated, set up a reaction against Impressionism, whose achievement was belittled and whose most characteristic representative, Claude Monet, was disregarded by a whole generation of artists.
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Cubism began as an intellectual revolt against the artistic expression of previous eras. Among the specific elements abandoned by the cubists were the sensual appeal of paint texture and color, subject matter with emotional charge or mood, the play of light on form, movement, atmosphere, and the illusionism that proceeded from scientifically based perspective. To replace these they employed an analytic system in which the three-dimensional subject (usually still life) was fragmented and redefined within a shallow plane or within several interlocking and often transparent planes.
Analytic and Synthetic Cubism
In the analytic phase (1907–12) the cubist palette was severely limited, largely to black, browns, grays, and off-whites. In addition, forms were rigidly geometric and compositions subtle and intricate. Cubist abstraction as represented by the analytic works of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Juan Gris intended an appeal to the intellect. The cubists sought to show everyday objects as the mind, not the eye, perceives them—from all sides at once. The trompe l’oeil element of collage was also sometimes used.
During the later, synthetic phase of cubism (1913 through the 1920s), paintings were composed of fewer and simpler forms based to a lesser extent on natural objects. Brighter colors were employed to a generally more decorative effect, and many artists continued to use collage in their compositions. The works of Picasso, Braque, and Gris are also representative of this phase.