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American Modernism

by: Jessika Song

American Modernism ARHI 2400

Jessika Song

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These notes are a combination of material from the textbook and from class lectures, to give you all of the information you'll need for the exam.
History of Art Survey, Part II
Beth Fadeley
Class Notes
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jessika Song on Wednesday April 27, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ARHI 2400 at University of Georgia taught by Beth Fadeley in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 10 views. For similar materials see History of Art Survey, Part II in Art History at University of Georgia.

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Date Created: 04/27/16
#OGTKECP▯/QFGTPKUO▯ American Modernism Modernism in the United States, 1900-1930 - Although modernism had always been associated with Europe, avant-garde experiments in the arts were not limited to Europe. Increasingly common transatlantic travel resulted in the exchange of artistic ideas among European and American artists. - New York City circa 1900 was scary and dirty, but also exciting — thousands of immigrants were flooding into the city, bringing in different languages, etc. - Artists like William Merritt Chase and Childe Hassam visited Europe, picked up on European styles of light, color, and atmosphere, and applied them to their own art in the states. Both of their paintings explored the leisure activities of New York. - A big difference between Chase and Hassam’s art and European Impressionist art was that the Europeans were poor and chose to depict the working-class, while the Americans depicted the upper-class in order to please the crowd that they would sell to. However, their paintings did not accurately depict the New York that they knew. Robert Henri (1865-1929) - An American painter and teacher, studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the École des Beaux Arts; entrenched in academic realism. - Leading figure of the Ashcan School of American Realism and organizer of a group known as “The Eight” — a loose association of artists who protested the restrictive exhibition practices of the powerful, conservative National Academy of Design and who pursued the production of images depicting the rapidly changing urban landscape of New York City. The Ashcan Artists - All students and proteges of Robert Henri and were all interested in depicting places that were not seen as appropriate locations to be depicted in fine art. Ashcan: a pejorative term given to artists surrounding Robert Henri in New York, circa 1900-1920, who painted common or “low” urban and immigrant subjects; term now widely used without negative connotation. Stag at Sharkeys - This painting depicts a fight — not the ideal location of depiction in fine arts, but nonetheless draws the viewer into the crowd. - The two boxers are an energetic mass of connected color and movement. The color red is used to highlight the fight, but also used in the crowd to engage the viewer with the members of the painting. Night Windows - Another depiction of the common working-class, but this time done by etching — showing that the Ashcan artists worked not only in painting, but in mass media as well. Hairdresser’s Window - At this time, there was an influx of Irish, working-class women — all viewed in the same stereotypical manner: red hair. However, this girl in the window seems to be cutting off her hair, thus shedding the Irish coating. Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) - American artist associated with American Realism and scientific realism. - Born and raised in Philadelphia, lived there most of his life. Also, attended one of the very first public high schools in Philadelphia (Central High School), which emphasized practical skills, such as drawing; also attended medical classes in college (Jefferson Medical College). - Was committed to linear perspective despite the popularity of impressionism and spontaneity. The Clinic of Dr. Samuel Gross (The Gross Clinic) - At this time, doctors were not highly regarded, rather viewed as butchers (after the Civil War due to untreated and amputated patients/soldiers). - Dr. Gross developed a surgical procedure that would treat a malignancy in the thigh, formerly treated by amputation in this painting, he is depicted at the height of his career, explaining the procedure to students in Jefferson Medical College. - Both Eakins and Dr. Gross emphasized the idea of taking a craft and elevating it to a fine art or skill. Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) - The person most responsible for elevating the stature of photography at a time (between the two world wars) when it was emerging as a respected branch of fine arts. - He photographed whatever he saw around him and believed in making only “straight, unmanipulated” photographs. Spring Showers - Stieglitz subscribed to a theory that the principle subject of a photo should be in sharp focus while secondary elements should be left out of focus — known as “naturalism” because it was thought that these types of photographs most closely resembled the way the human eye naturally sees things, focusing on one area while surrounding details fall away. - Not to be confused with out of focus photographs. Arthur Dove (1880-1946) - Graduated from Cornell and left for Paris where he encountered the work of Matisse. When he began painting completely nonobjective paintings at about the same time as Kandinsky, unknowingly. - Spent most of his life on farms in rural New York and Connecticut and loved the textures of the American landscape. He sought to capture the essence of nature without representing it directly. Nature Symbolized No. 2 - Without representing any identifiable objects or landscape elements, Dove used swirling and jagged lines and a palette of mostly green, black, and sandy yellow to capture the essence of vegetation. organic abstraction: an approach to abstraction associated with the circle of artists around Alfred Stieglitz, involving abstraction of natural forms and organic rhythms. Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) - Moved from the tiny town of Canyon, Texas to New York City and became fascinated with the fast pace of city life. - Became associated with the Precisionists in the 1920s — not an organized group but all shared a fascination with the machine’s “precision” and its importance in modern life. New York, Night - This painting features the soaring skyscrapers dominating the city. - As did other Precisionists, O’Keeffe reduced her images to simple planes, punctuated by a contrast between the rectangular windows of light against the darkness of the looming buildings.


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