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


Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917.











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.











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.










Bird in Space

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).












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