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Traces of Modernism in Art

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Submitted By rolly
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The ancient parallel between literature and visual arts –i.e. painting, sculpture and architecture becomes newly relevant in the twentieth century. Painters were the first to explore the revolutionary possibilities of modernism, so that painting became the leading art form. Modernism refers to the style and ideology of art produced between the 1860s and the 1970s. As traditional art forms had become outdated due to industrialization, modernism emerged in Western Europe out of a need to reject tradition and embrace the political, social and economic change of the industrial age. Modernism was embodied by a new generation of artists whose work was characterized by a variety of styles and subject choices that flew in the face of accepted convention. While, generally speaking, it challenged a number of aesthetic principles, modernism ultimately gave rise to a variety of movements and styles.
The great progenitor of modernist revolt was the impressionist movement in the second half of the nineteenth century in France. Impressionist painters made colorful style of painting, characterized as impressionism. Impressionism attaches great importance to our perception of contrasts and light, something that is accurately expressed through the seasons. Claude Monet’s Rouen Cathedral in full sunlight was a famous painting, other than this Pierre Auguste Renoi, Edgar Degas, Alfred Sisley and Henri de Toulouse Lautrec are among the most important impressionist painters.
CLAUDE MONET – "Impression, sunrise" (1873)
At the end of 19th century Post-impressionism arose that was a soft revolt against impressionism that influenced the development of art in the 20th century. The major artists associated with this were Paul Cezanne and Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh’s vigorous and vibrant painting technique was one of the touchstones of both Fauvism and Expressionism; art movements that took place in France at the beginning of the 20th century. Fauvism was a joyful style of painting that delighted in using outrageously bold colors. It was developed by Henri Matisse and Andre Derain. The artists who painted in this style were known as ‘Les Fauves’(the wild beasts). ‘Les Fauves’ believed that color should be used at its highest pitch to express the artist’s feelings about a subject. Fauvist paintings have two main characteristics: extremely simplified drawing and intensely exaggerated color. Henri Matisse’s The open window, Collioure is a good example of fauvism.

This movement was a major influence on German Expressionism which is a style of art that is charged with an emotional or spiritual vision of the world. There were numbers of expressionist groups in painting, including Der Blaue Reiter and Die Brucke. It also founds in other art forms- the novels of Franz Kafka are often described as expressionists. Exponents of expressionist dance included Mary Wigman, Rudolf von Laban, and Pina Bausch. There was an Expressionist style in the cinema, important examples of which are Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), The Golem: How He Came into the World (1920), Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) and F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror (1922) and The Last Laugh (1924). In architecture, two specific buildings are identified as Expressionist: Bruno Taut's Glass Pavilion of the CologneWerkbund Exhibition (1914), and Erich Mendelsohn's Einstein Tower in Potsdam, Germany completed in 1921.

Also associated with modern art is expressionism, characterized by an often tragic and primitive vision of the world, from which cubism would be inspired. Picasso’s Les demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) marks the beginning of Cubism, with its depiction of the female nude in terms of a few simplified flattened shapes. It was the first abstract style of modern art. Cubist paintings ignore the traditions of perspective drawing and show you many views of a subject at one time. Analytical cubism and synthetic cubism are its two distinct phases. A painting like Houses on the Hill by Horta De Ebro reflects the influence of Cezanne’s land scapes. It influenced many other styles of modern art including Futurism, Vorticism, Suprematism, Constructivism and De Stijli. Futurism was well known in London, this futurist movement has been regularly provoking the English establishment with exhibitions, raucous lectures and press conferences and aggressive menifestos. The futurists advocated the complete destruction of the past, worshiped the sleekness and power of machinery and sought to convey in their art the rapid pace of modern life.

Like futurism, Vorticism was conceived as an interdisciplinary movement that included literature and music as well as visual arts. Dada – an international movement that had great impact in both Europe and America is not an artistic style but an attitude or way of life. It is a great example of modernism, affected by almost every avant-grade movement to come before it, dada was so multi-faceted that even Dadaists couldn’t agree with themselves. According to artist and author Steven Farthing, dada was about freedom of expression and anti-leadership so it was an almost anything-goes philosophy on art. Fountain is the most famous example of the art form by Duchamp which he called the readymade. After dada’s movement Surrealism also took place which had a more coherent theoretical foundation and a more positive agenda. Surrealist painting can be devided into two kinds; veristic and absolute.

Thus 20th century art displays more than stylistic diversity. It is in the modern period that artists have made paintings not only of traditional materialssuch as oil on canvas, but of any material available to them. This innovation led to developments that were even more radical, such as conceptual artand performance art movements that expanded the definition of art to include not just physical objects but ideas and actions as well.

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