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American Art and Modernity

In: Historical Events

Submitted By patgirl791
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Urban Modernity in NY (1908) and Ash Can artists
General: The thrills of technology, such as coney island, city of wonders, also had the nitty gritty, more poverty and realistic side of the city with the ash can artists
• Song Slide: nickelodeon o Diversity, adults children white black o Let the audience feel as a presence w/in performance o Act of watching was also entertainment
• Coney Island at Night- film frame o Electricity changing what nighttime meant in urban setting
• Before it was to be avoided and now it is not. Led to growth of nightlife
• Footlight flirtation o Vaudeville established itself from burlesque/cheap entertainment
• Create a form of entertainment that could be viewed by all, no vulgarity
• Movies: five cents o Films mixed with live acts, broadened nighttime environment (attended by unescorted women, creating unsupervised encounters b/w men and women)
• Started consumer culture- break down Victorian gender
• Mixed audience represented experience of urban life (black/white, men/women)
 Exciting, instability, city new visual experience
• Lone Tenement (George Bellows) o Wanted to facec the ugly in city as well as beautiful o Worked against Whistler (avoided aesheticism)
• Rawness of city, depicted vaudeville (which is like mixture of acts such as burlesque, comedians, music, etc) o Liked to show economic conditions of urban poor
• Ash Can painting style: thick and messy, meant to look like it was applied slap-dash manner, jittery o Ash can artists started as illustrationalists o Borrowed from manet but were more interested in giving subjects agency
• Called insufficiently modern
• Whistler’s work is about distancing us, Bellows is about confronting the difficult world, the real world, gritty grimy

The Stieglitz Circle & Transatlantic Modernism
General: Cubism, Italian Futurists, Fauvism, abstraction, NY Dada
• Six O’Clock, Winter, John Sloane, 1912 o Display Discontinuity of urban life o Rawness
• Rush Hour, Max Weber o Also shows the discontinuities of urban life o Took thrusted lines of train in motion and applied it to paintings
• Battle of lights, Joseph Stella o Again shows possibilities of electricity, Italian immigrant, Italian futurist style
• One of which was Giacomo Balla (Dynamism of Dog on a Leash) o Captured electric spectacles
• Brooklyn Bridge, Joseph Stella o Wanted to express dynamism (express its force of nature)
New attitude coming from back and forth between the Atlantic Ocean
• Portrait of Daniel-henry Kahnweiler, Picasso, 1910 o CUBISM
• Developed in france,
 Tries to express multiple viewpoints, on the same canvas
 See objects in painting from multiple angles
• Cubist doing what Eakins foresaw in Mending the Net, except Eakins actually tried to make all the different viewpoints cohere with eachother,
 Cubists don’t care about coherence, they welcome discontinuity
 Never enters fully into abstraction tho
• Planar Fragmentation:
 Geometrically shaped sections of paining
 Breaking and overlapping planar forms
 Different planes linked together by passage
• Passage is the opening up of countours, allowing elements to bleed into eachother
Nude Descending a Staircase, Marcel Duchamp:
• Taken color palate and broken contours of cubism o Figure moving in space, connection between cubism and motion technology o These look very similar to cinematography (look into it)- it’s the work by Muybridge

Fauvism- huge effect on color use
• Shrill, unmixed color
• Don’t use color realistically- color not attached to object but rather emotional effect o Color detaches from form similar to Dow’s concept of color
Ex: The red Studio- Henri Matisse
Spiritual Abstraction- works expressively and not representational, reminds of whistler, lines and colors produce vibrations-pure aesthetics

Translated to America with Amory Show, New York, 1913:
• Huge exhibition of American and European art
• Stein siblings also contributed to exposure
• Alfred Steiglitz: o Old and New York”, 1910 o Primarily photographer, opened “291” gallery, became place for European artists their first US exhibition o Emphasized feeling over logice, intution over intellect
• Trancend material constraints: o Explore line and color (Like whistler and chase) o Intersest in harmonies (drew heavily on Muybridge and Eakins)

Dynamism: imply the ideal of natural structure
• Artist: Dove o used reperesentational titles but work remained abstract
Artist: Georgia O’keefe, 1920s
• Very aware of what was going on in Europe o Mechanical and technological came in work through photography o More interested in effects of photographic optics and les distortion
New York Dada;
• When modernism and absraction run into WWI
• Utopian fusion of nature and technology o Artist: Hartley- man and machine fusion- leeway into New York Dada
• Individual identities hidden behind state and war propoganda (like what we talked about in review)
 “portrait of german soldier”
• infiltriation of symbols, abstract except for meaningful ones
 anthropromorphic
• head like symbole
• political/national arrangemens more meanings than specific human body parts. o Compared to John Peto’s “Old Time Letter Rack”
• Purely visual, detached from body
Steiglitz Circle:
• Organic spirtual, Hartley allied w/ them but skeptical toward war didn’t align with their more positive outlook between organic and tech aspecs of modern life.
Machine Age
General: Mechanomorph (machine and Body), electrical products and humans, Americanisme, total removal from humans strictly industrial
• Americaine, Picabia, o Objectification of women
• Brooklyn Bridge, Joseph Stella

Entry of us into the roaring 20s
• US is booming, unlike the economic devastation in Europe
• Americanisme- the machine age, increased optimism in US about machines, infastructure, model of purity, perfection, and efficiency
• Response to machinery: o Arthur Dove’s organic abstraction
• Celebration of organism and organic energy
 Tech bolsters organic dyamism
• New york Dada
 Mechanical and body meaning
 Produce image of sterility
• Precisionism
 Much more about removing organis from equation, and produce images that exlplore cold rationality perfection of machine
• Charles Sheeler, o Precisionist painting
• Empahasize hard edged interlocking forms, clear and clean machine like forms
• Interested in Duchamp approach to remove artistic hand from art
 Create mechanical art form
• Did this through photos, and then projected photos onto canvas to paint them
Taylorism- comes from Fredrick Winslow Taylor o Assembly line style, machinize/industrialize human work

Sheeler Painting:
• Sheeler’s work is about creating clear mechanical world, does not allow us to see any brushstrokes so why even paint at all? Why not just use photograph

Duchamp Fountain: relates to gothic architecture arches (Brooklyn bridge) supposedly this applies to all gothic arches

American Modernism, “Usable Past”
General: Demuth, Duchamp, Sheeler, African American Art, Where does modernism derive from?
• Charles Demuth: futurism, cubism, fractured planes, no evocation of artist hand, very hard set structure. o See: “My Egypt”, 1927
• Equates grain elevators with pyramids
 meaning modern forms have the same stability and monumentality as pyramid
 everything is glass like (even the air and sun light seem very solid and stoic and permanent)
 Fragmented
• Duchamp: Bride stripped bare by her bechelors, even , 1926 o Failed coupling, innocent bride and auro on top, and clothes pin bachelors underneath, o The breakage of class is most important to him, not iconograph
• Work was broken in transit, but he like it, and retained original breakage lines o Concept of Breakage, o Believes because America has history, it can be seen as modern, modernism derives from ameriaca
• Home, sweet Home, 1931- Charles Sheeler: o Image from house in salem o Abstract spatial oscillation (object advancing and receding in space)
• Refusing to be defined as deep space, its kinda both that and arial
• No accurate perspective

African american Art: Alaine Locke saw traditional African art as basis of cubism, this one of origins of picasso’s shift to cubism (he was inspired by African art), so it can be seen as the origin of modern life
• Aspects of Negro Life, Aaron Douglas 1934 o Douglas view of AfAm in American cities, o Connect modernism to African art o Hamonized pallete o Abstract interlocking propagating geomitries running behind/through figures
• All the figures silhouettes
 No info about figures , derived from egyptians sculpture relief
• Modern form, clarity, sharpness
• James Van Der Zee, 1932, “couple with a Cadillac) o Photographed rising class in harlem (blackest neighborhood of America)
He too was black
Wanted to offset the stereotypical poor, imagery of black people
New Deal Art: (1940s)
General: FDR wanted more American art to be in America, so commissioned mad different artists to just paint all over America, Dust Bowl, Folk culture
• Creation of jobs for writers and artists, large scale patronage of visual art o WPA (works project administration) and SFA (Section of Fine Arts)
• Artists used to furnish a particular self-image of Americans
• Create visual culture of revival
• Broadcast conditions in mid-west
• New Deal Flavor of these works: o Clean, new, starting over, not depressing (didn’t want to show depression), surreal o Captions became titles o Preference for realism over abstraction
• Abstraction disappears during depression, want images everyone can understand o Nationalism
• Engage American population o Folk culture over mass advertising culture
• Want to preserve the previous folk culture of america
• Colonial traditions
 Antidote mass reproduction and marketing of roaring twenties.
 “usable past” comes from the traditional roots of America, similar to renaissance (looking at the antiquity) o Archival thrusts
• Attempt to capture the countries places and keep record of it
Index of American Design,1939-1941, about 1000 people working on it
• This is where the water color paintings came from. o Why have it? Because they were trying to put people to work and it was more time consuming that way o Preserve handmade quality of paining o Artist forces to spend time observing all the object details
DustBowl photographs:
• Partly archival
• Emphasis on victimization o Agencies needed gov’t support so tried to appeal to their pathos an emotions. Show problem they were trying to fix rather than the how much they were helping o Destitute Pea Pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California
• In new deal side, the title resembles a caption,
• Alludes to Madonna and child, (religious connotation)
• Removes larger context, and gives generalized endurance of time
• “didn’t ask her name” Lange said (photographer)
 turns out she was Cherokee, forced to migrate trail of teras, speaks to much longer history of migration
Mexican Muralism:
• Explosion of muralism response to conditions of the depression, commissioned by new deal b/c good use in public spaces,collective form of art production
• Murals became central form of production
Mexican muralists used murals as social medium. This influenced American post-office murals.
• Helped in overthrowing the president, they looked to mexico’s indigineus history to create a culture independent of the white man’s influences.
Diego Rivera, Detroit Industry Mural, 1932, fresco:
• Cubism (flattening of picture plane, emphasis of surface pattern, interlocking planes and surfaces)
• Renaissance frescos
• Mexican art o Socialists
• Northwall about guts of the automobile,
• South wall about the outer build
• Tried to show intergration of processes and assembly liner o Earth, furnace, care
• Southwall- rolling stamping of steel, cutting of gals,
• Relationship between him and Demuth (precisionist) o Connection between machine and monumental history o Emphasis on monumental modernity
Jose Orozco
• Pessimistic, bleak
• Suggest a continuity of violent sacrifice b/w ancient an modern o Ancient human sacrifice vs. modern human sacrifice
• Equivalenc Aztec human sacrifice and sending men to fight wars
• Doesn’t like the white man, western education, western gods o Covers body with flag (similar to military deaths)
David Siqueiros
• Muralism and visualization of Marxism
• Murals should replace all easel painting o Artist should think of themselves as workers
• Best known for : quick drying painting technique
European Exiles (1960s)
General: Surrealism
• Duchamp: mobility, exile and movement o he felt people more exposed to art in a second person instead of first person.
• Carried work in suitcases
• by 1960s American artists pushing the boundaries of modernism o artist more mobile, American cities become centers of artists and art
• specifically NY, it allows artists to absorb European artistic styles
• these Europeans were brought over by the WWII b/c of Hitler, the 3rd Reich had proclaimed maodern art bad
 Surrealism has a second wind in NY, become the primary carriers of psychoanalytic thought
Automatism: technique generate art out of chance procedures-auto drawing and writing, creating things that don’t derive from thought or rationality
Ex: Andre Masson, Iroquis Landscape, 1942
• Example of European surrealists, pureness and wilderness, and naturalness.
 Surrealist ideal, write quickly with no preconceived thoughts and see what happens.
• Developed in order to create new kind art education, combine fine and applied art. o Progressive learning, no grades/credits, give holistic approach to learning, aim was to develop creative activities within everyone. o Used any and all media.

Surrealism vs. Bauhaus:
• Both interested in creating ways to liberate people from traditional ways
• Mechanical world dialogue
• Neither believe unique work derives from conciousness o Surrealism believes it comes from artistic ability to work w/o conciousness
• art of creating a piece
• doesn’t use brush to paint, instead uses a mixing stick, to dribble or throw paint onto canvas o paint journey’s through air before hitting canvas o no thoughtful or preempted planning, he is a true surrealist a lot of his works becomes understanding how paint works
One: Number 31, 1950
• Expressive
• Dynamism- quick line is thinner, slow lines are thicker o Its about his physical movement and not representational movement.
• With Duchamp nude staircase for example, it shows actual movement within the picture, but in Pollack painting its what he did to make those lines appear like that.
• Entire body being used to paint
• Inspired by Portrait of Bourgeosie (Siqueiros)
 Kandinksy, (wassily) believed art should be expression of inners and not just a representation.
• Autographic Gesture o Idea that gesture made on canvas is like a signature
• Abstract Expressionism o No consistent set of styles

Abstract Expressionism, Collective Unconscious:
• Authentic expression of identity o Autographic gesture
• Modern Man Paradigm – way of talking about the modern experience after WWII and relation to the human race o Sound like industrialism and man and the machine from earlier, (German Soldier painting?)
Gottlieb: Pictograph, 1946
• Influenced by ceremonial blankets( funeral ones?) o Relationship to ancestry
• Primitavie symbolic meaning
Similar to Hale Woodruff: Afro Emblems

Willem De Kooning- Woman I- 1950
• Marilyn monroe and ancient fertility objects o He is fightning with figure, there is struggle in producing this image b/c she is composed of two conflicting things
• Reprsents struggle with unconscious many artists had at the time. Didn’t know when were done with painting b/c it was determined by process
• Role of abstraction in expressing unconscious thoughts
Rauschenberg and Johns

• Rauschenberg o White Painting (seven Panels), 1951
• 0 degree of painting
 in refusing to offer an image or pattern it gives constant reflection of what is going on around it. (you could look at it and see how many people were in the room by the shadows cast on the “painting”)
• Rediscovery of Duchamp’s Theory:
 Meaning of art is altered based on its context and placement
 Expose art to contingency and chance effects o Erased de Kooning, 1953
• See if a drawing could be made using an eraser instead of a drawing tool.
 He wanted one good enough to erase and know that it would be missed.
 Kooning gave one that would be difficult to erase it took him 1 month and 40 erasers to do so.
• Took longer to erase than to draw
 It obeyed the paths of original drawing
• Aesthetic of Anonymity
 More focus on silence-erasure of artist’s presence o Factum I and Factum II (1957)
• Combo collage and painting
 Same elements on each side (Eisenhower, calendar, newspapers) called doubling when done with painterly elements
• Abstract strokes (no representational, just expressive)
• Uses representational images, something definitely not allowed in the abstract world b/c too specific and overt, takes viewer away from space.
 Treats images like medium (uses low resolution)
• Josef Albers o Variants, 1942
• Experimental
 Variation w/o repetition (take a similar structure then alter it smally)
• Jasper Johns o Wanted to return to the realism and actuality of art (representationalism)
• Much more controlled, calculated o Flag, 1954
• Painted with wax, it quickly cools (sounds like a muralist right?) so no room to smear, each brushstroke sitts on top of the other, looks thick, and slower than abstract expressionist painting (which is quick briskly thinking without a conscious movment)
• Chooses flat, non feeling subject matter (ie: numbers, target?)
Trompe l’oiel : uses realism painting techniques to make paintings look 3Dimensionals
Relationship with Unconcsious:
• He cant have this b/c he is a gay man, he can’t be exposing his interior desires b/c this is not allowed. This is partly why he refuses the a.e. model of interiority
Inclusitivity (late 1950s and early 1960s)
General: taking audience from being spectators to actual pieces of the art
• Like in the white painting (Rauschenberg) and de koonig erased, it is a painting that is totally receptive, sensitive to environment behind it. o Mentions the 4:33 seconds of silence piece
• Roberts Frank o Photographer o Snapshot Aesthetic (snapchat much)?
• Use camera to get elusiveness and see America as actually experienced (visual social politically uncertaintiy)
• He liked indecisive moments (unplanned moments similar to abstractism)
• Ie: Elevator Miami Beach, 1955 and Studio, Hollywood 1955
 Multiplication of images (in studio) head on women and in tv, shows mass reproduction o Characteristics:
• Grainy, dark, imperfection, dynamism (movement), differential focus
 All of these made him perceived as a bad photographer
• Alan Kaprow o used to be abstract expressionist painter, but wanted art to move out of painting , liked 3D and even 4D work
• Yard
 Visitors travel through piles of tires, viewers physically challenged
• This forces viewe to think about bodily motions and functions (dynamism)
• Wanted to capture what it would be like to feel your way through a Pollock painting. o He felt everyting in America had become too planned, he like spontaneity
Noncomposition and PostPainterly Abstraction:
• Clement Greenberg- I remember this asshole. Read Pollock as:
Exclusivity, flatness, he thought goal of painting was to transport the viewer out of the actual world into something sublime and transcendence
The function of art is to remove us from the pos-war problematic world- rejection of reality
Helen Frankenthaler, Mountains and Sea, 1952 o Part of the colorfield painters
• Created by Greenberg o Created the Soack-stain technique
• Thinned oil paints, pour paint onto canvas and push it around canvas.
• Liked to work on floor too like Pollock.
• Wanted paint to soak into canvas and achieve the Halo effect (turpentine halo) o Unlike Pollock paintings were very flat (so of course Greenberg liked it)
• 2 dimensional – like greenbergs definition of modernism
• color ethereal, work in paper and not ON paper (like watercolor) o Helen was too femine to be figurehead of his movement tho.
• She was too delicate, would slosh around in paint in her house slippers (domesticated symbol)
• Morris Louis, Russet (1958) o Heavily influenced by Frankenthaler
• raw canvas, heavy acrylic (doesn’t penetrate as much, it sits on surface longer before soaking in)
 this allows more time to manipulate canvas before it sets in. (mix the colors, flow on his own accord by directing the paint) o transparent veils of brown o large painting o adapts soak-staining technique but his body doesn’t come into contact with the canvas o seems to avoid gravity?? o Extremely, intensely flat, but made of 3d method of production
• Kinetic dynamism o Does painting in 3 movements: stretching the canvas in 3 separate dripping movements
• Frank Stella! o Jill (1959) Used house painters brush on raw canvas, interaction b/w black and raw canvas, stripe guidelines penciled in before hand.
• Attempted to make painting that refuses the act of reading into it o He liked patterns, repeated patterns, never overlapping (because that represented depth), doesn’t want the viewer o look INTO the painting . o He like filling in his corners o Wanted to get relatability out of painting, doesn’t want any narrative to distract the viewer, patterns shouldn’t been in conflict with eachohter
Pop Art I: Artist as a machine and Commercial Unconscious
General: What is the everyday? Is there spontaneity?? Is there a field outside commerce? Pop takes language of superficiality, pleasure, desire, and makes that reflect social culture.

• Art including commercialism (ads, mass produced icons, marketing)
• Claes Oldenburg: o Tries to cultivate ambiguity between commerce and art commerce
• Roy Lichtenstein o Bases paintings on comics o Hand-paints each dot through stencil, o Meant to replicate ben-day dots (standard unit in reproduction of comic books)
• Most vulgar form of color creation o “Sweet Dreams Baby”, 1965:

• Andy Warhol o “The Factory”- name of his studio
• commericial ambiguity
• “supermarket” exhibition, had is work juxtaposed with actual supermarket items (ie: campbells paiting next to actual paintings)
• Basically directly brought in real life into art, complete opposite of abstraction and expressionism o “TV $199”, 1960:
• plays with depth,
• adverstisers aim at the unconscious of people to exploit it, the provokes concern about power of advertizing
 pop art directly addresses this fear
• present their work like offshoot of abstract expressionism (playing with depth) o “Dance Diagram”
• on floor, like pollocks paintings
• entering into painting is full body form of expression
 suggest dance isn’t free anymore, it too is prechoreographed prescribed social convention o “200 Soup Cans”
• Although soup old fashioned, presented in a way that the soup is forgotten behind the packaging of it.
• Repetition, inheritance from frank stella and jasper johsn, and a play in commercial life (repeated commercials and ads), mass reproduction
• Abundance is the key here. Why supermarkets like lining shelfs with hundreds of the same products
• Nationalism- resembles the stripes of American flag
• Flatting effect of repetition- in the world where everything is repeated do we have impenetrable flat lives?
• Silk Screening- commercial printing technique
 Painted on the floor, but in commmerical procedure (not autographic)
• Takes a bit of bodily effort
• Refusal of personal gestures o “Double Elvis”:
• Greater than life size, big paintings
• Collection of ink around elvis pelvis (coincidence)?
• Multiple elvis= different personalities, ghosts?
• Painted huge canvas’s on floor, screened a whole bunch of elvises in different ways. Then shipped it to LA with frames. The gallery owner was responsible for cutting it up the way he saw fit (Warhol had nothing to do with this process) o “F-111”
• huge painting different panels, wraps around mad walls. Forced to go into the center to view it (like artist was forced to do as a billboard painter) couldn’t view the whole thing as a whole. Every panel represented different aspects of what went into making a f-111. (including consumerism and funding General electric)…...

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