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20th and 21st Century Art

Abstract Expressionism
Social Realism
 Many people do not like modern art. They think that
the artist has somehow fooled the audience by doing
something simplistic that covers up a lack of talent.
 While it is perfectly valid to like one style of art over
another, I have a suggestion that will help you to
understand where the artists are coming from: Look
at the philosophical and social context of the art.
What was the goal of the artist? Many modern
artists are not trying to create beautiful images that
strike awe into the viewer. In that sense, they do not
fail to produce beauty—it is simply not their goal!
For instance, would you criticize your English teacher
for not teaching you math? Why not?
 Fauvism is an excellent place to start
the introduction to modern art because
it represents the creative freedom of
the era.
 Fauvism is characterized by:
Wild use of color
Simplified scenes
Open Window, Matisse, 1905
The Joy of Life, Matisse, 1906
Bridge over the Riou, Derain, 1906
Soprano Singer, Modjesko, 1908
 Cubism makes use of multiple, shifting
viewpoints. Linear perspective is totally
abandoned for the sake of
simultaneously viewing scenes from a
number of angles. Everything was
flattened onto the canvas.
Bowl of Fruit, Violin
and Bottle,
Glass on Table, Braque, 1910
The Sunblind,
Gris, 1914
 Celebration of modern technology,
speed, and city life.
 Reaction to industrialization--the culture
of Europe was changing rapidly and this
group of Italians embraced the new era.
(This celebration of technology was also
a component of Mussolini’s fascist
Speeding Automobile, Balla, 1912
Armoured Train in
Action, 1915,
States of Mind 1: The Farewells, 1911, Boccioni
 “Dada” was a word chosen randomly from the
dictionary. Why?
 Because they claimed that the previous value
system had been destroyed by WWI. The old
order was gone and it was time for a new
word to express the chaotic, destructive, and
irreverent approach that they took to art.
 They produced art by dropping paper
randomly on a canvas and gluing it down or
signing and exhibiting everyday objects.
Very Rare Picture of
the Earth,
Duchamp,Fountain, 1917
Merz 163, with
Woman Sweating,
Journal moment #1
 It is impossible to understand art independently of its
social context. Dadaism claimed to represent the
new value system of the post WWI era and Futurism
celebrated new technologies.
 3-5 minutes… take a moment and reflect on one of
the following questions:
 Do you think that it is an over statement to say
that WWI changed the value system of Europe?
Using examples, say why or why not.
 Aside from the obvious change of having new
gadgets, how else did new technologies change
how people lived their lives after the Industrial
Revolution? Use examples.
 Drew from the Dadaists—they interested in being
 Interested in Freud--they thought that art could
depict the unconscious. To them, the unconscious
was the way to understand human nature.
 They were also often very playful and counted on
getting a startled reaction from the viewer. In this
way they demonstrated one of the basic differences
between most modern art and for example, the
Renaissance. While earlier artists sought to depict
something for the audience to passively look at,
many 20th century artists depended upon an
interaction BETWEEN the artist and the viewer for
the piece to have meaning.
This is not a pipe, Magritte, 1968
The Lovers, Magritte, 1928
Clairvoyance, Magritte, 1936
Not to be
Magritte, 1937
Attirement of the
Max Ernst, 1940
Promontory Palace,
Tanguy, 1931
The Persistence of Memory, Dali, 1931
Woman with Her Throat Cut, Giacometti, 1932
Gosh Do I Look
as Old as All
Ted Geisel
aka Dr. Seuss,
early 1960s
Abstract Expressionism
 Came about right after WWII.
 The first American movement we have
 Like the surrealists, they thought that
art could express the unconscious and
represent symbols that expressed
human nature.
De Kooning,
Composition VII, Kandinsky, 1913
with Yellow,
Blue and
Broadway Boogie-Woogie, Mondrian, 1943
Blue Poles, Pollock, 1952
Jackson Pollock
Social Realism
 Much like the Realists that we saw in
the 19th century with painters like
Courbet and Manet.
 Critique of social problems in everyday
life or at least depictions of scenes that
usually went unnoticed.
 Often used photography.
Nighthawks, Edward Hopper, 1942
American Gothic, Grant Wood, 1930
Nan One Month After Being Battered, Nan Goldin, 1984
Post Modernism
 Criticized earlier artistic traditions for being
too high-brow.
 Anti-corporate.
 Relativist: believed that no one society or
culture is more important than any other. Saw
art as imperfect, temporary, accessible,
disposable and only meaningful in context (as
opposed to art that strove to be universal or
 Notice how they use everyday objects in art—
the goal is to get us to look at them in new
Campbell’s Soup,
Warhol, 1968
Velvet Underground Album Cover, Warhol, 1967
Turquoise Marilyn, Warhol, 1962
Andy Warhol
Whaam, Lichenstein, 1963
Interior with Waterlilies, Lichenstein, 1991
We Will No Longer Be Seen and Not Heard,
Kueger, 1985 (She used images from advertisements to
create this piece).
Three Ball Total
Equilibrium Tank
(Two Dr. J Silver
series, Spalding
NBA Tip-Off),
Journal moment #2
 3-5 minutes…
 Looking back over the pieces, which
one interested you the most? Why?
 Noticethat the question is not asking
which one you liked the most (although
that could be true as well) but which
one you thought was the most