Ralph Larmann

Art Department

University of Evansville

back to: Chapter 8

Madame Matisse (The Green Stripe)
oil on canvas
by Henri Matisse

Painting Number 201
Blue Rider Group
oil on canvas
by Vassily Kandinsky

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
oil on canvas
by Pablo Picasso

Composition with Red, Blue, and Yellow
De Stijl
oil on canvas
by Piet Mondrian

Bauhaus-Dessau, Germany
International Style
by Walter Gropius

Modern Art before 1945


Modernism was a movement that started around 1880 and ended in 1980. It was characterized by its theoretical approach to art. "Art for art's sake" was a term which exemplified this movement because it basically said that art should be examined further to find out more about itself. The Modernists worked on theories of color, spirituality, universality, psychology, perception and the idea behind the art sometimes became more important than the image produced.
-most early 20th Century art movements were centered around a set of rules called manifestos. These manifestos created common ground and similar ideas for a group of artists to concentrate on.
-worked from ideas in psychology like Faber Birren's Psychology of Color. Birren found that people reacted differently when exposed to different colors. For instance, red made people hungry; blue was a calming color; etc.

the Fauves
-means "wild beasts" in French, referring to use of wild color and flat planes
-associated with the work of Cezanne

Henri Matisse
-used flat planes and bright vivid color. He was most interested in planes.

Portrait of Mdme. Matisse (the Green Stripe), 1905, oil on canvas, 16"x 12"
-used light that is reflected from different sources
-complementary colors are used
-portrait of Matisse1s wife

Vassily Kandinsky
-believed that colors had a spiritual quality and that sounds could be associated with particular colors
-believed that good art was a reflection of good moral character in an artist.

Painting Number 201, 1914, oil on canvas, 5'4"x 4'
-based on a "symphony of colors"
-used abstract lines and shapes

The Futurists
-believed in the positiive effects of industrialization in the Western World
-in their manifesto, they included support for WWI, which they thought would be a great cleansing and would end war forever

Umberto Boccioni, Unique Form of Continuity in Space, bronze sculpture, 1913.

-was developed as a way to show all sides of an object in a two-dimensions
-developed by Georges Braque but made most public by Picasso

-Spanish artist who worked in expressionist and cubist movements

Guernica * Cubism * oil on canvas * 1937 * by Pablo Picasso

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907, oil on canvas, 8'x 7'8"
-influence from African masks
-picture of prostitutes in Avignon, France done in harsh, primitive way.

Three Musicians, 1921, oil on canvas, 6'7"x 7'3"
-flattened abstracted forms
-arranged in rhythmic patterns
-slight diagonals add to rhythms

Guernica, 1937, oil on canvas, 11'6"x 25'6"
-painting memorializing first saturation bombing of a civilian area
-Picasso stipulated that the painting not be returned to Spain until democratic rule was restored

DE STIJL (the style)
This abstractionist movement was based in the idea that a "universal" aesthetic be produced. The members of the movement abstracted the world by using vertical lines (man) and horizontal lines (the horizon) to produce a grid. From their perspective, they are creating a form of art that has no basis in any other aesthetic tradition, i.e., African, Asian, etc.. Members of the movement include Piet Mondrian and Theo Van Doesburg, both Dutch artists.

the Bauhaus
-a school in Dessau, Germany that was founded with the intention of creating a universal International Style. The basis for this aesthetic idea was taken from the use of new materials like glass, metal, concrete, etc. The term "form follows function" was used to describe the importance of the use of an item over its aesthetic beauty. The use had to be the most important element, then the beauty of the object would follow.
-this school worked in architecture, art, and all facets of design. The building was designed by Walter Gropius.

Villa Savoye
International Style
by Le Corbusier

Falling Water
Prairie Style
by Frank Lloyd Wright


Le Corbusier (the Raven)
-French architect who created "machines for living," they are designed around the needs of the people who occupy them
-felt that architecture should be designed independent of nature so that it would not be tied to any one environment.

Villa Savoye, 1928-30, France
-International Style house that was not tied to any single site.
-created so that it could be mass produced.
-designed for the needs of the occupants.

This reflects the new aesthetic that the Bauhaus was establishing. A universal style that is not tied to any one culture and is related to simplicity. Pieces of architecture like this one are relatively inexpensive to build and materials are mass-produced. The rectangle was regarded as an ideal form by the De Stijl artists.

Frank Lloyd Wright
-believed that architecture should be site-specific
-thought that architecture should reflect the surroundings

Falling Water, 1936, Bear Run, Pennsylvania
-specifically designed for that surrounding environment
-unique and could not be reproduced anywhere else
-used some materials that were taken from that environment, i.e. stone quarried in the vcinity of the house, wood from nearby trees

Lavender Mist
Abstract Expressionism
by Jackson Pollock


Abstract Expressionism
-first truly American art movement began and was developed in New York
-based on abstraction and energetic gestural and painterly way of working
-reflected the "wild" brash American spirit

Jackson Pollock
-Abstract Expressionist who worked with a dripping process using house paint called Action Painting.
-was trying to create a universally acceptable painting style that others may be able to emulate, that would fit into any culture/environment.

Lavender Mist, enamels, 1954, detail.

Mark Rothko
-Abstract Expressionist who worked with the idea of spirituality in his work
-layered oil paints to create a psychological and spiritual void where one could meditate
-like Abbot Suger and Kandinsky, Rothko saw a close relationship between aesthetic experiences and spiritual experiences

Next study guide: Chapter 10

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