Breaking It Up


"At a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act - rather than a space in which to reproduce, redesign, analyze or express an object, actual or imagined. What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event." - Harold Rosenberg in The American Action Painters
Exam 1 will open Friday, September 20 and must be submitted by 11:59 PM on Monday, September 23
  • Worth a maximum of 50 points;
  • Will be comprised of image identification, multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching, and short answer essay questions;
  • Students in need of testing accommodations, please confirm with me that testing parameters are suitable
Jackson Pollock, Cathedral, 1947.












Federal Art Project
1935 - 1943

FAP artists received famous salary of $23.86/ week
when a Woolworth's clerk earned $11/ week

  • Fostred a sense of community amongst artists
  • Spoke of the importance of art to the United States











Paul Julian, Orange Pickers, Fullerton, CA Post Office, 1941 - 1942. Oil on canvas.
WPA poster 1930s











The artistic community in New York begins to blossom:

Art Students League

Important art schools opened and groups formed:
  • Art Students League
  • Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts
  • The Club
  • Cedar Tavern
The Art Students League, NY











Surrealism = a European artistic and literary movement of the 1920s and 1930s that explored the direct expression of the unconscious unobscured by rational thought. Surrealism was influenced by Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical theories, but the movement was also very much a reaction against the "reason" that had led Europe into the devastations of World War I.

Construction with Boiled Beans

Salvador Dali, Construction with Boiled Beans, 1936.












Joan Miro, Nocturne, 1935.
Yves Tanguy, Indefinite Divisiblitly, 1942.











"Born in Romania in 1910, Hedda Sterne moved to the U.S in 1941." "From 1924 to 1941 Hedda Sterne created multiple forms of art which could be seen as series in the flux of the preoccupation. There are surrealist compositions with fantasy and fairy tale atmosphere, with princesses and castles surrounded by huge scale flowers. Collages were part of her artistic research and the hazard is extremely present within the artworks. Hedda was using different cut-outs from magazines and papers, which she threw on another paper. She would glue them as they accidentally lie down and integrate them with drawings in surrealistic, strange compositions." - ArtDaily
Hedda Sterne, Feminine Character,
c. 1938. Collage on paper.











First Papers of Surrealism exhibition, designed by Duchamp, 1942.
Arshile Gorky, The Betrothel II, 1947.











Vostanik Manoog Adoyan
Arshile = refers to the hero Achilles
Gorky = Russian for bitter
"The bitter Achilles"
Standing L to R: Bernard Reis, Irene Francis, Esteve Francés, Elena Calas, Arshile Gorky Enrico Donati, Nicolas Calas.
Seated L to R: Steffi Kiesler, Andre Breton, Mougouch, Max Ernst Becky Reis, Elisa Breton, Patricia Matta, Frederick Kiesler, Nina Lebel, Roberto Matta, Marcel Duchamp.











The Artist and His Mother

The Art ist and HIs Mother

Arshile Gorky, The Artist and His Mother, 1926 - 1936.
Gorky and His Mother c. 1912













The Betrayed, BBC documentary on Armenian Genocide











Arshile Gorky, Composition: Horse and Figures, 1928.
Arshile Gorky, How My Mother's Embroidered Apron Unfolds in My Life, 1944.











The Liver in the Cock's Comb

Arshile Gorky, The Liver is the Cock's Comb, 1944.











Multiple layers of meaning for "liver" :
Cock's Comb
one who lives
the liver was the source of passion for the ancients
"I do not believe in anarachy in art. There must be some structure...For me, art must be a facet of the thinking mind...unrelenting spontaneity is chaos." - Arshile Gorky










New venues to see and exhibit art in:
  • Museum of Modern Art founded in 1929
  • Whitney Museum founded 1930
  • Julien Levy Gallery opens 1931
  • Museum of Non-Objective Painting (will later become the Guggenheim Museum) opened in 1939
  • Art of This Century Gallery opens in 1942
  • Betty Parsons Gallery opens in 1945
  • Sidney Janis Gallery opened in 1948
Art of This Century Gallery












The Mexican Muralists - "Los Tres Grandes"
Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siquieros & Diego Rivera
American artists identified with the Mexican Muralists because they sought many of the same goals:
  • In search of a distinctive national imagery and style
  • Belief in use art as a vehicle for social change
  • Embraced the notion that art was for "the people" rather than the wealthy elite

Jose Clemente Orozco, Zapata, 1930.












Jose Clemente Orozco, Prometheus, 1930.











Frary Dining Hall, Pomona College











David Siqueiros, America Tropical, 1932.










Siqueiros on the roof of the Italina Hall with America Tropical in background
America Tropical before restoration











America Tropical under viewing platform today











Man at the Crossroads

Diego Rivera, Man at the Crossroads, 1932 (destroyed before completion).











Diego Rivera, Man, Controller of the Universe, 1934.
Fresco at the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City.










Historic Context
WWI ends with Treaty of Versailles
Weimar inflation
Mussolini claims power over Italy as fascist dictator
While in prison for attempted seizure of power, Hitler writes Mien Kampf, arguring for Germany's need for large military, economic self-sufficiancy, suppression of communism, and the extermination of Jews.
Great Depression begins
Hitler appointed Chancellor, restricts the press, and bans political meetings and marches. Hitler will be given full power by August.
Reichstag fire
Dachau opens with Communists as its first prisoners

Nazis begin "Aryanization" of Germany by dismissing non-Aryans from civil service, liquidating Jewish-owned businesses and stripping Jewish lawyers and doctors of their clients. At the time, Jews made up about 1% of the total German population.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews will begin fleeing Germany
c. 1930s
New Deal begins - program of government spending to end the Great Depression
1936 - 1939
Spanish Civil War
German scientists bombard nucleus with protons, releasing enormous energy & providing decisive proof of Einstein's theory related to E=mc2