May 6
The World Wars



Sleeping Muse
The Newborn
Constantin Brancusi. Sleep.
Constantin Brancusi. Sleeping Muse. 1909 - 1911.
Constantin Brancusi. The Newborn. 1915.
Preble, Duane, Sarah Preble and Patrick Frank. Artforms. Seventh ed. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2002.


Essence = that which makes something what it is; intrinsic, fundamental nature or most important quality
"Simplicity is not a means to an end in art, but one arrives at simplicity in spite of oneself, in approaching the real sense of things." -Brancusi







Bird in Space

Constantin Brancusi. Bird in Space. 1928?
Preble, Duane, Sarah Preble and Patrick Frank. Artforms. Seventh ed. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2002.







Composition VIII

Wassily Kandinsky.  Composition VII.   1923.


Synesthesia = sensation felt in one part of the body when another part is stimulated


"Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings.
The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul." - Vassily Kandinsky







Historic Context
Titanic sinks
Armory Show in New York
1914 - 1918
World War I
First wide-scale use of mechanized warfare
Over 16 milion people die
1916 - 1923
1917 - 1920
Russian Revolution
1919 - 1933
Bauhaus school sought the unity of all the visual and plastic arts from architecture and painting to weaving and stained glass
Formation of the Soviet Union
Fascists under Mussolini seize power in Italy
1924 - 1940s
1926 - 1953
Stalin gains control the Soviet Union
Great Depression begins
Hitler's Nazi Party seizes power - end of the German Weimar Republic
1939 - 1945
World War II
Largest & deadliest war with 62 million deaths
U.S. bombs Hiroshima and Nagasaki with newly developed atomic bombs







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.
Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History. Revised Second ed. Vol. 2. New York: Prentice Hall Inc., and Harry N. Abrams, 2005.

President T. Roosevelt exclaimed, "That's not art!"
New York Times critic said Duchamp's painting resembled "an explosion in a shingle factory."
American Art News offered a prize to anyone who could find the nude






1916 - 1923

(Some of the) Berlin Dadaists in 1921

Dada = a nonsensical term used to define an international artistic and literary movement.  Born of the widespread disillusionment engendered by World War I, it attacked conventional standards of aesthetics and behavior and stressed absurdity and the role of the unpredictable in artistic creation.
"Dada knows everything. Dada spits on everything. Dada says 'knowthing,' Dada has no fixed ideas. Dada does not catch flies. Dada is bitterness laughing at everything that has been accomplished, sanctified... Dada is never right... No more painters, no more writers, no more religions, no more royalists, no more anarchists, no more socialists, no more police, no more airplanes, no more urinary passages... Like everything in life, Dada is useless, everything happens in a completely idiotic way... We are incapable of treating seriously any subject whatsoever, let alone this subject: ourselves." - Gardner's Art Through the Ages
"While the thunder of guns rolled in the distance, we sang, painted, glued and composed for all our worth. We are seeking an art that would heal mankind from the madness of the age."- Jean Arp







Marcel Duchamp. L.H.O.O.Q. 1919.
Elger, Dietmar.  Dadaism.  Koln: Taschen, 2004.








Marcel Duchamp. Fountain. 1917.


Readymade = an object from popular or material culture presented without further manipulation as an artwork by the artist







Man Ray. Ingres' Violin. 1924.
Rosenblum, Naomi. A World History of Photography.
Abbeville Press, New York. 1989.

1924 - mid 1940s
1900 Sigmund Freud publishes The Interpretation of Dreams
Surrealist Manifesto proclaimed:
Unconscious mind more powerful than the conscious mind
Sought to make visible the imagery of the unconscious
Purpose of their art was to resolve the two states of dream and reality into a kind of absolute reality, a surreality







Salvador Dali. The Persistence of Memory. 1931.


"The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad." - Salvador Dali








Meret Oppenheim. Object (Luncheon in Fur). 1936.
Preble, Duane, Sarah Preble and Patrick Frank. Artforms. Seventh ed. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2002.







The Two Fridas

Frida Kahlo. The Two Fridas. 1939.








Pablo Picasso. Guernica. 1937.
Preble, Duane, Sarah Preble and Patrick Frank. Artforms. Seventh ed. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2002.


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