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Modernity and Modernism Modernity – industrialisation and urbanisation, people moving to the city Modern art was the reflection of and the response to this new world Paris was the most advanced and urbanised city in the world in 1900 e.g. the electric moving walkway Trains and the railway service made it possible for people to travel not only their own country, but other countries too, which would have been close to impossible before hand Completely different living ethics – urbanisation resulted in people from the country moving to the city, living on their own in apartments/terraces. Contrasted their very community based country life Enlightenment – the scientific advances caused religion to be questioned and philosophical thinking to become more ‘mainstream’ Modernist art began to take shape – new ways of living, new ways of seeing Impressionist artists began to reflect city life in their paintings – some glorified industrialisation, whereas others chose to depict the grimmer, grittier side of it (this often focused on the working class) and the loneliness of the individual, lost in the large city Modernism was more about the artists reflection on the situation and the atmosphere, rather than a portrait or narrative Manet – The Balcony (1868) – Considered to be one of the first modernist artists. Depicts alienation from families. Modernist world in the individuals mind Seurat – Isle de la Grande Jatte (1886) ’pointilism’, style explored by Seurat, inspired by new discoveries in optical science Degas – Absinthe Drinker (1876) Drinking to escape from modernity – photography influenced composition Kaiserpanorama – 1883 – First invention that enabled a large number of people to view slides/photos. Resulted in alienation and urbanisation – people wouldn’t want to visit the countryside, they’d rather see it through the Kaiserpanorama because it was more ‘exciting’

The Lumiere Brothers – Moving image cinema – revolutionised ways of not only observing the modern world, but of capturing moments from the modern world Modernism wasn’t about beauty for beauty’s sake, it was about observation and reflection. It wasn’t a way of painting a narrative, it was a way of positioning the viewer in the shoes of the artist, for the spectator to see what the artist saw. Inspired by scientific advances and radical philosophical arguments, it shunned it’s predecessors, it reflected on specific situations and touched on portraying emotions rather than fairy-tales or legends. Modernism in Design Anti-Historicism: look forward not backwards – start afresh in terms of design True to materials: use the beauty of the material, don’t make metal look like wood etc. Form follows function – a fork is a fork, you hold it and eat with it, let’s not muck about with silly decoration The beauty of the product comes from the simplistic/minimalist form of the raw material, designed in a way that will best suit it’s task Adolf Loos – ‘Ornament is Crime’ (1908) The Bauhaus Mass producible products – A design that everyone can understand, opposed to ornamental designs which might only appeal, or be understood by, a specific group Internationalism – a language of design that can be understood by everyone San Serif Font – Designed by Modernists -simpler lettering, no decorative serifs, bare minimal needed to communicate

Art and Revolution

Russian modernism very different to Western Modernism

Became more popular in early 20th Century, with Bolsheviks and Mensheviks

Bolsheviks/Mensheviks – groups originally organised under Lenin, but split due to slightly different ideologies. However, both with very similar causes.

Built up mainly of Russian workers. Emancipation of the Surfs Act had freed them from their slave like position which seemed to revolutionise their lives, however in the years building up to the creation of the Provisional Government it was realised that their freedom was only an illusion, and that it had caused more problems than it had solved.

As a result, once the Provisional Government had been set up following the fall of the Tsars, the workers grew hostile, and Lenin, amongst others, created this organisation to bring the workers together and channel their frustrations to take action against the Provisional Government.

Education was poor for the working classes, which meant the majority were illiterate, and the languages across Russia varied drastically, so it was hard for organisations to communicate successfully

This led to purely image based propaganda, no text etc, as a way to communicate the cause of the Bolshevik party throughout Russia, as to be understood by everybody

Lenin strongly backed this new medium as it was revolutionary art. It went against what all previous Russian art stood for, it represented the new

When Lenin had taken power this ‘new art’ was pushed even further

A lot of Russian Modernist art was created by ex-workers, and so reflected the industries they came from (again massively pushed by Lenin – idolising the working class etc)

Artists started looking at their workplaces and seeing the geometric patterns of the machinery, the metal works, the cogs, and soon their art became incredibly radical and ahead of it’s time, in my opinion it left the western world looking artistically incapable

Suprematism – completely abstract, steering away from old art at a tremendous pace

Abstract symbolism used to represent ideas and historical moments of the Red Party (Bolsheviks)

Some artists began to use photo’s in their work, particularly in posters etc, like nothing ever seen before. As an example of how advanced their art practice was, this type of image making is still used today in posters, and looks as relevant now as it did in the 1920′s

Constructivists – constructing a new world through new Visual Communication – abstract structures, minimalist, true to their materials. Dressed in bizarre outfits resembling workers clothes, to keep the link between workers and artists, and to make the workers believe that its ‘workers art’ for the workers

Tatlin’s Tower – outrageous and fantastic concept to basically ‘out-do’ Paris’ Eiffel Tower (still true to materials etc, but more impressive). Unfortunately, although Russia seemed to be joining in with the Roaring Twenties and mass industrialisation, it was still a very poor country with few resources, so this project couldn’t be carried out

The revolution spread into every aspect of Russia, including fashion; Stepanova & Popova – textiles company, created material with ‘new geometric abstract patterns’. The clothes that these abstract patterns were used for became the norm for most Russian people, creating the most sublime fashion to arguably ever be seen in history

Russian modernist artists were invited to the Paris expo, an exhibition of modernist art from all over Europe and the Western world. The Russian art was so radical in comparison people didn’t know what to think of it. it seemed TOO modern

Everything in Russia changed – fashion, art practices, architecture, politics – VKhUTEMAS Progressive Art School, predating Bauhaus opened, education young adults in the new radical practices. The outfits became unisexual, the same in every manor.

The differences in sex seemed to become non-existent in terms of social status (although this wasn’t really the case, it just seemed that way), but things definitely improved drastically for women (everyone were ‘comrades’, equals, which crushed individualism)

Lenin’s death resulted in the death of Russian modernism. Modernist art was banned by the evil grey blur that was Joseph Stalin, and Russia reverted back to being ruled by a single dictator, a Tsar in disguise

Performance Art Became a popular medium in 1960s/70s Intentionally confrontational, often improvised. Audience participation - often indirectly. Generally conceptual - more about the concept and process rather than the finished product Often documented through video and photography Artifacts used in performances sometimes become collectable art pieces themselves Marcel Duchamp - Why Not Sneeze, Rose Selavy? 1921 Jackson Pollock - Action painting, 1950’s Allan Kaprow - Happenings, 1950’s Hermann Nitsch - Interacting with audience, 1960’s Josph Beuys - May 12 1921 - Jan 23 1986 - spent 3 days in a room with a coyote Gilbert and George - Smashed, 1973 - Although the result was a showcase of photos, the real art was in the actions and processes in the situations that the photos were taken Richard Long - Walking a Line in Peru, 1972 Yoko Ono - Cut Piece, 1965 - Dependant on audience participation Marina Abramovic - Rhythm 0, 1974 Vito Acconci - Following Piece, 1969 - Seedbed, 1972 Chris Burden - Shoot, 1971 - White Light/White Heat, 1975 Performance Art Can Be used to question socially ascribed roles of Masculinity & Femininity Be used to question the nature / authority of institutions / museums/ art itself explore the relation between the artist & audience


Sculpture is concerned with objecthood, an his/herself in an instant. Gotthold Lessing there to be percieved and be taken in at on


nd intends to allow the viewer to concern g defines sculpture as a body in space. It is nce. It is something physical, spacial, there.


Lecture Notes