American Art Before WWII

Writing Art History Activity now due on Canvas


Purdue OWL CMS style guide
Berkeley's guide to evaluating sources











The Modern World Challenges Tradition (at lease in Europe)


At the turn of the 20th century, a number of traditional points of view
were challenged by radical new ways of thinking
  • Einstein publishes the Theory of Relativity in physics
  • Increasing industrialization changes the way people live and work
  • Freud introduces concept of the subconcious mind
  • The Wright brothers invent a machine that allows humans to fly
  • Ford's assembly line quickly and efficiently produces cars
Man Ray, Cadeau (Gift), 1921.











And, at the outbreak of WWI, the traditional center of the art world in
Paris was beginning to dissolve.











Hugo Ball

Avant-garde = artists or works that are novel or experimental
  • relates to military term for soldiers who explore battlefield ahead of advancing army
  • suggests small group of intellectuals who push the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm
Hugo Ball performing Karawane
at the Cabaret Voltaire, 1916.











Mechanical Head

As artists began to challenge the status quo and redefine art for the modern era, a new vocabulary/ language was also needed to understand the things they were making and now calling "art."
Bird in Space
Raoul Hausmann, The Spirit of Our Time (Mechanical Head), 1919.
Constantin Brancusi, Bird in Space, 1928?









The 1913 Armory Show introduces radical European abstraction to America for the first time


Armory Show Main Hall

Armory Show Main Hall











Nude Descending a Staircase

Marcel Duchamp, Nude Descending a Staircase, 1912.





















U.S. Postal Stamp Commemorating
Armory Show, 1998.











Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917 (1964 replica).











Alfred Stieglitz, photograph of Fountain, 1917.
Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, the Dada Baroness Who Invented the Readymade











Seventeen known versions of Fountain











George Wesley Bellows, Stag at Sharkey's, 1909.

Constantin Brancusi, Prometheus, 1911.