3 Questions on 20th Century Art.

Q. 1:    By contrasting the works of two different artists note how Abstraction in painting before WW2 followed different directions.

Abstraction in painting was divided into two areas – Formal or Pure Abstraction.  The Formal side, following through the Cubism of Picasso and Braque, culminated in De Stijl (The Style) of Piet Mondrian, and the Suprematism of Malevich.

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Samovar 1913 MoMA – Malevich

Through a series of tree paintings Mondrian developed his Formal approach – based on the use of cubist planes of colour, and compressed space – until he’d reduced the elements to the use of primary colours, plus black and white, simple geometric shapes, and the intersections of line, for example his COMPOSITION WITH RED, YELLOW AND BLUE painted in 1930.  He wanted to create a universal artform that was devoid of subject matter, and emotions, and could be appreciated and understood by persons all over the world.  He created harmony, order and balance by the manipulation of the elements of art.

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Tree Series – Mondrian

Wassily Kandinsky, on the Pure Abstraction side, formed Der Blau Reiter (The Blue Rider) group of artists who believed in non-figurative but expressive works.  He linked colour to music, and talked about a ‘choir of colour’ when he painted his BLUE MOUNTAIN, which, though still containing some imagery, was predominantly painted for its colours and their psychological affects on the viewer.  He became more interested in the use of abstract organic shapes in his later works, and worked in series which each work evolving from the previous one, for example his BLACK ARCH series.  He used colour and line strongly, boldly; and he wrote a manifesto on his theories of colour.  His group believed in working from within, creating art based on the metaphysical plane and not related to life or nature.

Image result for munich-schwabing with the church of st. ursula  Image result for kandinsky black arch  images
Blue Mountain & Black Arch Series – Kandinsky

. . .

Q. 2:     By referring to three different works of art, relate how 20th Century sculpture breaks with tradition.

In the 20th Century, sculptors were freed from the restrictions that their materials set them, as new materials became available – plastic, perspex, sheet metal, wire, glass, and also existing items such as the bicycle seat and handle bars Pablo Picasso used to construct his assemblage called BULL’S HEAD, and although it was tongue-in-cheek as a Dada work, Duchamp’s BICYCLE WHEEL constructed from an existing bicycle wheel and stool.  Sculptors were free to construct their sculptures.

Image result for marcel duchamp bicycle wheel Image result for marcel duchamp bicycle wheel
Bicycle Wheel & Bull’s Head – Duchamp

Henry Moore, with his use of voids, introduced the use of actual space into his sculptures – the sculpture’s mass became the contours of the void within, and also the void allowed the sculpture to interact with the landscape beyond it.  RECUMBENT FIGURE shows how Henry Moore used the void to show the weight and mass of the figure, and as an integral part of the work.

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Recumbent Figure Series – Moore

Constantin Brancusi abstracted his subjects ruthlessly until only the essence of the subject remained, examples being THE FISH, SLEEPING MUSE, and THE KISS, the latter two of which he made several sculptures.  He discarded all unnecessary details – in THE FISH he wanted to show the slippery movement of the fish, so placed it on a motorised pedestal .  The use of actual movement was another addition to the modern sculpture , creating unlimited scope through electrification and lighting.

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The Fish & The Kiss – Brancusi

. . .

Q. 3:     Between the Wars artists reacted against traditional values and logic in society.
Discuss this attitude as seen in two art movements, referencing two artists and at least three works of art

After WW1 a group of artists led by Marcel Duchamp formed a movement called Dada – a silly name chosen for a movement that aimed to show the silliness in society at the time. They wanted to reintroduce the use of imagination, intuition, and free expression by the artist into art – they felt that the formal nature of art at that time was too far removed from reality.  They wanted to show that art could be fun, and to give the artist control over art rather than the gallery owners and academics.

Dada took two forms; Readymades – like Man Ray’s THE GIFT, which was an iron with nails protruding from its ironing plate, and Duchamp’s BICYCLE WHEEL made from a bike wheel and kitchen stool – and Jests (or corrected readymades) – like Duchamp’s LHOOQ, a print of Mona Lisa with a beard and moustache drawn on it.  There were also Chance works – like Hans Arp’s CONFIGURATION where he used string dropped on the floor to give him the initial image.

Image result for man ray artworks   Image result for duchamp artwork  Image result for hans arp artwork
The Gift – Man Ray; LHOOQ – Duchamp; Configuration – Hans Arp

The Surrealists followed, developing the idea of the imagination, the dream-world, the meta-physical world, being portrayed free from any restrictions of moral, narrative, aesthetic rules.  They encouraged automatic drawing, and chance – Jean Miro used bright primary colours and organic shapes in his works, while Giorgio de Chico used a distortion of perspective and areas of space to create an uneasy feeling with his paintings, for example THE MYSTERY AND MELANCHOLY OF A STREET.

Image result for joan miro images   Image result for giorgio de chico - mystery and melancholy of the street artwork
Women and Birds at Sunrise – Miro; The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street – de Chico

Salvador Dali, on the other hand, used Realism with startling clarity in his paintings, like THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY, but introduced uneerie elements into his paintings – everyday things in juxtaposition that didn’t belong together – like melting clocks to evoke the feeling of time melting.  The Surrealist artists were now not only free of rules, but of reason as well, working in a new fourth dimension level of reality.

 Image result for dali artwork images
The Persistence of Memory – Dali
. . . . .

I would like to challenge other artists out there to see if they can come up with answers to these 3 questions giving different (and perhaps favourite) examples of Art and Artists.
Either LINK them to this blog, or write them as a comment and add your name to them and I will add them to this blog for others to see.

If you wish to quote from this blog you may do so if you reference the quote to this URL.

© Jud House   29/08/2016


Author: judsartwork

I write reviews of Adventure and Hidden Object games that are Crime, Fantasy, SciFi, Renovation, Travel, Quest and/or Mystery by genre. I have a Masters in Writing (2006) and have been writing novels, both crime and fantasy for many years; plus Haiku, verse, and prose both fictional and literary. I am also an artist of modern, Acrylic, textural and hard edge work, underwater, fantasy, expressionist, and Cosmos paintings. I use mixed media (Acrylic, Watercolour, Pastels) in textural Monoprints, finding surprises to expose within each work. Having both an analytical and creative mind has meant that I have strong powers of observation, and the persistence required to follow computer problems through till I solve them. Of course I am not always successful, but am willing to ask for a little help in order to then unlock the main problem myself. My Troubleshooting Blog, 'Problems and Solutions', was the result of my tenacity.

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