TWENTIETH CENTURY ART
TWENTIETH CENTURY ART ART 428
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This 17 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jedediah Dare V on Monday October 19, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to ART 428 at Radford University taught by Staff in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 67 views. For similar materials see /class/224700/art-428-radford-university in Art at Radford University.
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andme oerrzrsno no awe zouorrrrrg me dancer Io ms new rem amosI appears Io be My Home 9 Mum 19m and Dance andrs roaucnons are MKSon vsryrrr me eoeeansnn me same space eme umdd of me lngmnhan ms lntelyteuhan sedeess tenant atteng a nd palmczl an Fauyes whlchls ed m lm lst usmehcs lamennansaelal Lhaaxy ansse Ilka las cantempaxmes nadla nsemnye style and obyeels elose a me Plcmm Plane Even maze Lhmstxuctuu ln uen wth Ma dsse and me athem swim cezanne m asux ce pattern of calms ever see me slmarlIles and dl eremes rrr me cameos Irons me rrmrr more reszrsrrrea order Io Me parrmrrg or mum and more rrerrzreareerrrg rrr Dance rmure 1n gamers 19m The rrrzerraeaoompsrrsorr here rs Io me oamers we see space somellanglnese anasls Lhaught of as calampnce mesymbaL M a r m Ilams oamerpsrrrzmgs were and also Io see now me ram s gures have a very bellevable rrsmrsrsrn rrr merr m Fauvism Political Decorative or True Vision As the end of the 19th century approached most of the impressionists themselves had abandoned the emphasis on atmospheric light saturated effects which they had created In fact the atmospheric painting was more likely to be associated with symbolism or interior states of being at this point Monet s paintings see for example Figure 1 Charing Cross Bridge 1900 had increasingly become paintings of his mental responses and psychological states rather than paintings of nature Extensively reworked in his studio over long periods of time there was no way they could continue to be seen as the record of a transparent moment in time and nature Renoir confirming a tendency which had already existed in his paintings treated life with increasing idealization ignoring social realities and using a style that suggested direct continuity with the French rococo tradition of the 18th century His Three Bathers of 1897 Figure 2 is only one of the many which could be used as an example The artists who became known as the Fauves at the very least were united by their elimination of ethereal and atmospheric effects along with the avoidance of any suggestion of bourgeois idealization See for example Figure 3 Andr Derain Westminister Bridge 1906 and Figure 4 Maurice de Vlaminck House at Chatou 1905 Although they denied the possibility of these forms of transcendence the belief that they were rendering nature as directly observed may be difficult to accept but there are reasons to consider it Because their style centralized the appearance of a hasty simple and visceral response to nature many observers did perceive their paintings to be a natural rendering of nature without the intervention of artifice This perception of naturalism in turn contributed to another response to Fauvist paintings a tendency to see them as depicting true social commentary and to promote an association between the Fauves and various political positions which may not have been true of the artists themselves If we cannot be certain about their political positions we can be certain that the one quality they shared was the use of bold pure color for the pure optical pleasure of color To assume that optical pleasure was their only motive does not fully account for the situation of these paintings in the social context of the early 1900s As a result the attempt to relate the Fauve painting to a political position although problematic is an interesting one and worth 1 tracing1 The argument begins with naturaism In the eyes of some contemporary critics the Fauvist contribution to the art and social world at the turn of the century was a new form of naturaism which allowed the Fauves to become the legitimate heirs of the French artistic tradition a tradition which was based on the academic beaux arts style of painting The basic premise of naturaism is that it is possible to produce a correspondence between a painted image and true nature This correspondence presupposes the use of conventions about perspective color and shape To the extent that any form of naturalist painting is based on conventions about what the natural world looks like and how it should be represented naturaism has the ironic and perhaps unintended effect of causing people to evaluate the natural world in terms of some ofthe conventions used in painting Impressionism in the 1870s and 1880s had already contributed to the creation of a different set of conventions which emphasized atmospheric effects but by the 1900s those atmospheric effects had become associated with symbolism and were no longer thought of as naturalistic Because the Fauves rejected this atmospheric quality and replaced it with a more visceral response viewers could either question the Fauve ability to render nature as it is or they could question the belief that nature had been accurately represented before Fauvism The compromise position is the belief that yes the Fauvist landscape is not entirely true to what we think we see because it is challenging convention and in this challenge it is also making a statement of social commentary Many observers associated Fauvism with the cult of naturism a movement which celebrated the experience of physical sensations and an exuberant naturalness Followers of naturism embraced spontaneity and ajoie de vivre and in some cases they also embraced anarchy leading critics to see naturism as a pointed rejection of the order and stability of bourgeois life Whether Matisse and the other Fauves were actually naturists or anarchists is not really known Their paintings do however appear to share naturist beliefs in that they are predominantly landscape paintings When human figures are present they engage in dancing and sexual activities leading to the perception of these paintings as paintings which are about a sensual exuberant and primitive life style with the meaning of primitive in this case implying a life which is unencumbered by the rules of urban society Traditional landscapes by the 19th century might be exemplified bythe style of Poussin in a painting such as the Landscape with St John on Patmos 1640 Figure 5 These were heroic landscapes which often included classical architecture possibly in ruins and figures engaged in heroic action The alternative to the heroic landscape was the rural or intimate country landscape which became the progenitor of the impressionist landscape The impressionist landscape however did not remain intimate as it quickly evolved into a landscape of bourgeois social activity Think of the restaurant and dancing scenes painted by Monet Renoir and later Seurat The Fauves however did not continue in this tradition when people are present they are not engaged in recognizable bourgeois leisure when people are not present the scenes do not appear to be intimate country scenes Indeed they struck some viewers as decorative and either primitive or unreal far from what we might think of as a political painting When Matisse turned to the decorative contemporary landscape with several figures such as Luxe Calme et Volupt 1904 Fig 6 it was new subject for him The style revealed several influences Seurat s neo impressionist style which he would have encountered in a recent retrospective of Seurat s work and C zanne s paintings of bathers Here he united the influence of neo impressionism with that of C zanne varying his brush stroke he also changed his palette using more hues and mixing primaries The subject can also be seen to reflect the influences of neo impressionism and C zanne in this case united with the utopian or arcadian landscape tradition of Puvis de Chavannes and Poussin The title of the work suggests a final influence on this painting Using a phrase from a poem by Baudelaire Matisse told the viewer that this painting was based in his imagination and in literature and not in real life This dissociation of the landscape painting from a natural landscape despite the real source which existed and which Matisse loved the painting is based on his Collioure landscapes is the result of the fact that Luxe Calme et Volupt is the synthesis of several studies It is an eclectic composition and style Matisse was not alone in his attempt to prevent the association of his art with a single style or the association of his subject with a specific time and mood All the Fauves sought this painterly anonymity in the belief that it allowed the painting to assert itself as a spontaneous naturally emerging representation of the real world Perhaps it is the conflict between their colors and reality or more seriously the conflict between succeeding as an artist without a recognizable style which made Fauvism such a short lived movement But Matisse the one artist in the group who had a long career was already beginning to do something here which would characterize much of his subsequent work the use of variations in the brush stroke to suggest different levels of reality in the painting The Joy ofLife 1905 Fig 7 is another arcadian scene more clearly a bacchanalia Similar to the earlier painting on which it appears to be based it rejects contemporary and urban lifeThe contemporary setting of the former painting has now been replaced by a completely imagined and idyllic setting The composition of this painting relies on repetitions of linear elements and triangular clusters of figures with a central triangle rising to the Gothic arch of the trees in the center creating a canopy for the dancing figures and evoking the composition of C zanne s Philadelphia Museum painting of bathers We can however also look at the dancing figures as a circular composition which is echoed in the arabesques of the trees and the other figures Depth is indicated by positioning with higher figures suggesting distance In some places size of the figures also indicates how close the figure is to the viewer Treating space in this way may have been a deliberate reference to either Persian or Byzantine styles but we cannot rule out another longstanding and more personal influence on Matisse s work textiles and tapestries The mixture of styles in the painting tells us that Matisse was still experimenting with style but it also suggests greater receptivity to the real world if we define the real world as referring to the world of art and style By 1906 Matisse had begun to move toward a flatter more decorative style devoid of modeling either through color or chiaroscuro This development reached its culmination in the two paintings made for the Moscow collector Sergei Shchukin Dance and Music Figures 8 and 9 both of 1910 The two paintings have identifiable precedents in earlier work in terms of the groupings of figures and in terms of style The oval chain of figures in the Dance clearly the same figures as we see in the center ofjoy fills the rectangular canvas and creates an arabesque pattern Each figure is curved and taut and bends in a different way from the others The two figures on the left reach their hands toward one another but an almost imperceptible gap exists between them adding tension to the movement The painting of Music offers a more composed and restrained experience a composition of order which has been compared to the arrangement of musical notes on a staff Music also seems to be the Apollonian response to the implied Dionysian frenzy of the Dance Dance according to Nietzsche in his book The Birth of Tragedy was the time when man could feel like a god walking in air in ecstacy and in his dreams To society dancing was the equivalent of moral and physical health These associations have contributed to the hypothesis that Matisse s paintings of exotic dancers along with comparable subject matter by Derain and one or two other artists at this time were paintings in support of the colonialist values of French nationalism in the early years of the 20th century Undoubtedly paintings such as Joy ofLife and Luxe Calme et Volupt and Derain s Bathers of 1907 Figure 10 with their avoidance of an academic finish the use of bold colors the visual and tactile rhyming in their compositions asserted a recognizable and decisive break with the classical and idyllic landscape tradition Yet at the same time the subject matter of a utopian landscape was not new and itself was part of the classical tradition To viewers who were looking for a political message in paintings one which would support the policy of colonialization the Fauve landscape had married the mantle of utopian idyllic classicism to the new naturalism while Fauvism and Matisse above all were now married to the French national tradition The suggestion of an exotic landscape made through the intense colors which continued to evoke Gauguin and which through Gauguin evoked the primitive world along with the crude finish of these paintings suggestive of the untutored eye and the presence of dancing women as a symbol of exotic femininity acted together to further an association between these paintings as a national message of French absorption and therefore containment and control of its north African territories This message does rely on the presence of women and the belief that the female body is also being conveyed naturalistically a factor which means that not all Fauvist paintings can be seen to be part of this political imaginary The Fauvist political message may have been ambiguous because it was made through color far more than subject or line Matisse for example violated French principles of design in his arcadian paintings The lines are not clearly articulated throughout and spatial ambiguities abound Yet through their use of color colors which have been compared to sticks of dynamite in their anarchy and destruction of the old order the Fauve landscape becomes a painting about destruction But this destruction may also target aesthetics If the Fauve landscape was the initial site of the destruction of representation in painting perhaps it could also have been seen as the destruction of the notion of an idyllic fantasy landscape with its origins in the golden age of the past If the paintings of Matisse and Derain did reject the paintings of a golden age of the past they did not appear to offer visions of a utopian future to emerge in the Mediterranean south of France What political or painterly geography do they inhabit In the end what they may be saying is that the golden age of the classical past and the utopian age of the future co exist in the same space the world of the imagination This interpretation reflects recent attempts to find political meaning in an artist who seems perhaps more than any other to stand outside politics and it would be incomplete if we did not return to a reading of Matisse and the Fauves which is based in formalist aesthetics rather than social theory Matisse like his contemporaries had his origins in a conservative style and education which he rejected slowly as he developed interest in C zanne Gauguin Rodin the symbolists and the impressionists and as he began experimenting with intense color From C zanne Matisse and the Fauves absorbed a tendency to compress space and tilt perspective and to bring objects close to the picture plane Even more than structural influences what Matisse and the others saw in C zanne was a surface pattern of colors embodying planes This was a lyrical treatment of space in which space was created by color not by light It is three dimensional space without being real space something these artists thought of as color space From symbolism Matisse Derain and Vlaminck incorporated the lesson of relying on the truth of one s inner experiences making the subjectivity of the artist into the subject of the painting and from synthetism Gauguin s style in particular they absorbed the idea of the painting as a representation of different planes of reality coexisting in one plane The outcome of all of these lessons or influences was the recognition of the difference between constructing an image and reproducing or representing reality Just as Seurat sought to represent a greater optical reality than could be achieved by more accurately reproducing the colors he saw the Fauves represented what they saw and what they felt without reproducing visual reality That s an important lesson with implications for modernism in the 20th century the design or pattern of color shape and line on the surface ofthe painting is not the same thing as the object which has been depicted Representation does not equal reproduction For Matisse and the Fauves it goes further than this and here we find a critical difference between the Fauves and other post impressionist styles such as synthetism from which they derived their own style The decorative surface of the Fauve painting does not correspond to some inner or essential truths Unlike the synthetists and symbolists the Fauves are not speaking of resonation between colors and sounds or sensations They are part of a transition in which color will be seen as a direct route to the creator s mind with creator increasingly referring to both the artist and to a more spiritual form of creator The painting is no longer about anything other than the painter And if the painter paints out of an inner necessity which corresponds to the spirit of the age the painting will be a path to the spiritual This leap is not truly part ofthe Fauvist period but it is an essential step to the spiritual expressionism of Kandinsky For Matisse the decorative quality of a painting was an important part of this path His understanding of the decorative was derived in large part from middle Eastern art and in particular from the tapestries and calligraphy he saw in northern Africa In Islamic calligraphy and painting the letters are responded to as a path to the spiritual which essentially lies behind the letters Although there are important beliefs for the presence of writing in Islamic art to the outsider the art has an organic rhythmic and flowing movement created by the arabesques of the letters Matisse drawn to north Africa for the light was undoubtedly as influenced by the organic compositions of the tapestries he would have seen and collected there In his writing he spoke about composition and the decorative in art saying that composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the diverse elements at the painter s command to express his feelings In a picture every part will be visible and will play its 2 He then wrote of his search for the appointed role whether it be principal or secondary undiluted or true essence of something a search which continued to link him to the symbolistsynthetist movement even as had begun to change the nature of that search Whereas the synthetist turned to the decorative as a means of asserting a primitivist or archetypal spirituality which has not been corrupted by urban bourgeois life Matisse turned to the decorative as a means of asserting pictorial and optical values knowing that the spiritual lay behind them Notes 1 For the key source on the politics of Fauvism see James D Herbert Fauve Painting The Making of Cultural Politics New Haven Yale University Press 1992 A more recent discussion is Margaret Werth The Joy of Life The Idyllic in French Art circa 1900 Berkeley University of California Press 2002 A more traditional discussion of Fauvism emphasizing its stylistic sources is Marcel Giry Fauvism New York Alpine Fine Arts 1982 2 Matisse Notes ofa Painter p 132 quoted in Charles Harrison Francis Frascina and Gill Perry Primitivism Cubism Abstraction The Early Twentieth Century London and New Haven Yale University Press 1973 p 61 ARTstor EE Print Preview 428 Spring 2008 gt Fauvism Creator Claude Monet French 18401926 European French Title Charing Cross Bridge overcast day 1900 Date 1900 Creator Auguste Renoir European French 1841 1919 artist Title Three Bathers Date 1897 httplibraryartstororgibrarysecureppreview28 Spring 2008 gt Fauvism amppartiatrueampnotestrue 1 of 6 2102009 104616 AM ARTstor Creator PierreAuguste Renoir French 1841 1919 Title The Great Bathers Date 188487 Creator Derain Andre French 18801954 Title Westminster Bridge Date 1906 Creator Derain Andre French 18801954 Title London Bridge Date 1906 httplibraryartstororgibrarysecureppreview28 Spring 2008 gt Fauvism amppartiatrueampnotestrue 2 of 6 2102009 104616 AM ARTstor Creator Maurice de Vlaminck French 18761958 Title Houses at Chatou Date around 1905 Creator Nicolas Poussin French 15941665 Europe France Title Landscape with Saint John on Patmos Date 1640 Creator Matisse Henri Title Luxe Calme et Volupte Luxury Peace and Sensuality Date 19045 httplibraryartstororgibrarysecureppreview28 Spring 2008 gt Fauvism amppartiatrueampnotestrue 3 of 6 2102009 104616 AM ARTstor Creator Matisse Henri Title Bonheur de Vivre Joy of Life Date 19056 Creator Matisse Henri Title View of Collioure Date 1907 httplibraryartstororgibrarysecureppreview28 Spring 2008 gt Fauvism amppartiatrueampnotestrue 4 of 6 2102009 104616 AM ARTstor Creator Matisse Henri Title Music Date 190910 Creator Matisse Henri Title Dance Date 190910 Creator Derain Andre Title Bathers Date 19067 httplibraryartstororgibrarysecureppreview28 Spring 2008 gt Fauvism amppartiatrueampnotestrue 5 of 6 2102009 104616 AM