American Art Before WWII
"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

Thesis Proposals due on Blackboard Monday, September 10



Oskar Schlemmer, Triadisches Ballett (Triadic Ballet), 1922.











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.











Luncheon on the Grass

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











Pastoral Concert

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











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.











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










The Modern World Challenges Tradition (at lease in Europe)


At the turn of the 20th century, a number of traditional points of view
were replaced with radical new ways of thinking
  • Einstein publishes his Theory of Relativity in physics
  • Increasing industrialization changes the way people live, buy and work
  • Freud introduces his concepts of the subconcious mind
  • The Wright brothers invent a machinethat allows humans to fly
  • Ford's assembly line quickly and efficiently
    produces cutting edge machinery
And... the traditional center of the art world in
Paris was beginning to lose its hold
Man Ray, Cadeau (Gift), 1921.










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"
Raoul Hausmann, The Spirit of Our Time (Mechanical Head), 1919.










Bird in Space

Constantin Brancusi, Bird in Space, 1928?