The Modern Avant-Garde

"What I have in mind is that art may be bad, good or indifferent, but, whatever adjective is used, we must call it art, and bad art is still art in the same way that a bad emotion is still an emotion." - Marcel Duchamp
No Class on Monday in observance of Labor Day
Please begin working on the Writing Art History Activity in preparation for Wednesday's class.
Oskar Schlemmer, Triadisches Ballett
(Triadic Ballet)
, 1922.











Group Think

  • Group 1 - What is modern art? Find a work that serves as an example.
  • Group 2 - What traits characterize modern art? Identify an artist known for making art with these traits.
  • Group 3 - How does modern art differ from Medieval art (which came before) and Postmodern art (made after)? Find works that serve as examples of Medieval and Postmodern art.
  • Group 4 - When did artists begin making art in a modern mode? When did artists move on to other modes such as postmodernism?
  • Group 5 - What are some of the main ideas that stimulated the development of modern art?











A Bar at the Folies-Bergere

The term "modernism"
develops out of the avant-garde

Modernism = philosophy that affirms the power of human beings to make, improve, deconstruct and reshape their lives, with the aid of scientific knowledge, technology and practical experimentation.  Rooted in urban culture, where leisure activities as welll as daily necessities are available commercially, modernity refers to the condition of post-industrial, capitalist society. Associated with ideas of progress and novelty, modernism reflects the dominant ethos of a society in which consumption plays a central role in one's daily activities. Because of its capitalist base, modernity emphasizes change and continual improvement, often at the expense of the worker.

Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, 1881 - 1882.











Clement Greenberg argued that the avant-garde began with this painting:


Luncheon on the Grass

Edouard Manet, Luncheon on the Grass (Le Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe), 1863.











However, Manet's work references Renaissance "master works" that were used by the French Academy to teach new artists.


Pastoral Concert

Titian and Giorgione, The Pastoral Concert, c. 1508.











Characteristics of Modern Art:

Les Demoiselles D'Avignon

  • Discarded “traditional” forms of art
    as old-fashioned and irrelevant
  • Embraced disruption
  • Believed in universals and the essential
  • Valued innovation (being the first)
  • Centered on individuals who "expressed" themselves
Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles D'Avignon, 1907.











Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937.  11' X 23'.  Oil on canvas.











"Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war for attack and defense against the enemy." - Pablo Picasso


Guernica after aerial bombardment











Simon Schaman's Power of Art: Picasso
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4