19th Century Art First Question Term Paper

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In Braque's "Woman with a Guitar we can see the foreshadowing of the Synthetic Cubism period, when he introduces stenciling and lettering, a practice that Picasso was soon to imitate.

Figure 7: Picasso, Le Guitariste"(1910

Figure 8: Braque "Woman with a Guitar" (1913

Synthetic Cubism/Collage 1912-1914:

Braque was beginning to experiment further now by mixing materials such as sand and sawdust into his paint to create a more textured, built- up look and what Chilvers (Cubism ¶ 7) describes as further emphasizing that the pictures were objects in and of themselves and had their own integrity rather than representing something. Picasso took this a step further when he began to create "collages." This was a major turning point in the evolution of Cubism, according to Greenberg, in his classic essay on "Collage" in "Art and Culture." Many art critics, according to Greenberg say that Picasso and Braque used collage as a way of returning to a "renewed contact" with reality in the face of increasing abstraction in their paintings but Greenberg insists that using the term "reality" in art is highly suspect (Greenberg, 1958).

Nevertheless, in their mutual influence on each other, Braque took this to another level when he created his "papier colle', consisting of works made of pieces of decorative paper. This period did bring back more color to their works and revolved to a more "decorative, relaxed " art, much less abstract and cerebral, incorporating everyday, familiar objects (Chilvers, Cubism ¶ 7). Figures 9 and 10 are examples of the reversal of the Analytic Cubist phase, where Picasso and Braque's works now demonstrate a richer texture of images that are now "built up" from preexisting elements, rather than being created from breaking up the components into fragments.

Figure 10: Braque, Still Life with Glass and Letters (1914)

Figure 9: Picasso, Pipe, Glass and Bottle of Rum (1914)

In the Synthetic Phase of Cubism, Juan Gris starts to play as significant a role as Braque and Picasso, and many artists were now won over to the Cubist movement including Fernard Leger. Gris and Leger are often considered the third and fourth major Cubist, respectively (¶ 8).

Figure 12: Leger, Exit the Ballets Russe (1914)

Figure 11: Juan Gris, Breakfast (1914)

Cubism, by 1914, became the dominant, avant-garde movement influencing artists throughout the world. World War I interrupted cubism's trajectory, but it again re-emerged at the end of the war. Cubism proved very adaptable and was the starting point for such other movements as, Futurism, Suprematism, and Constructivism, as well as being a stimulant for leading artists of the time,(not only painters, but sculptors too), to adapt Cubist ideas to other mediums such as sculpture and architecture, by opening up forms to include a fusion of space. Picasso also experimented in Cubist sculpture.

Several Czech architects, members of the "Group of Plastic Artists" such as Josef Gocar, (Fig 13), incorporated Cubist ideas and "broke up" the facades of their buildings with abstract forms that were reminiscent of the Analytic Phase of Cubism (¶ 10). Cubism also exerted its influence on the applied arts. Gocar designed Cubist furniture and Art Deco was highly influenced by the Cubist movement.

Figure 13: Josef Gocar," Die Betonung von Gesimsen,"


The avant-garde of Russian art between 1910 and 1930 was composed of a group of artists seeking to define themselves in the midst of great social and political turbulence wrought by the overthrowing of the old order in Europe and Russia, the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Chaos can bring great change, and these tumultuous times opened up a time for vast artistic experimentation influenced by utopian ideals and the possibilities of new relationships between art and society. These artists were fueled by a desire to contribute to a new social order that would bring harmony and unity (Marquardt & Roman, 1).

In Russia, a tension had existed since the mid- 19th century between native sources and Western influence. By 1908, a revival of Russian folk art was influencing artists who began painting with primitive, bold colors and simplified, childlike designs (3). This return to a more primitive, indigenous material was counteracted by another group of artists who were influenced by Western, modern art developments, especially Cubism, and in 1910, a group calling themselves the "Knave of Diamonds" was formed. A subgroup broke off from this movement, called the "Donkey's Tail," who favored the more traditional approach to art (3).

Kazimir Malevich, a Russian painter, writer and designer of the time, and considered one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, was a synthesizer of both Western, abstract influence and native art forms. Malevich was heavily influenced by Cubism and his primitive themes were rendered in an architectural and cylindrical style (3). Malevich was famous for his geometric style stage set for the "Victory Over the Sun" (Fig. 14), performed in Moscow in the winter of 1913.

Figure 14: KazimirMalevich, "Stage set and Costumes for Victory over the Sun" (1913)

It was here that the movement called "Suprematism" was born. Suprematism, for Malevich, was a synthesis of geometric abstract forms with a native Russian mystical tradition. Malevich, with his mystical leanings, hoped that he could break free from "the burden of the object, and swim free in the white abyss " and his work became increasingly abstract.

Except for a brief interlude of adding colors and a more painterly approach, by 1918, Malevich had returned to more austere, pure ideals with his "Suprematist Composition: White on White" (Fig 15). Seeming to be able to go no further along this road, Malevich turned to teaching and writing. He did make a trip to Bauhaus in 1927 and in the late 20's returned to his more figurative paintings but by this time he was out of favor with Stalin's reactionary "Social Realism." He died in poverty, after being by the Stalinist regime but he remained revered by the artistic community (Golding, 1991, ¶ 1).

Figure 15: Kazimir Malevich, Suprematist Composition:White on White (1918)

Constructivism originated in Russia in 1914, becoming central until a few years after the Revolution of 1917, having been prefigured by the Suprematist movement with its geometric forms and use of industrial materials and abstract shapes. By the early 1920's, Constructivism had spread to the West and had considerable influence on a variety of artists in the fields of painting, sculpture and photography. Constructivism is distinguished by its use of manufacturing materials, like glass, plastic, metal, all arranged in formal relationships. Vladimir Tatlin, considered the father of Russian Constructivism, had visited Paris in 1914 and the sculptures of Picasso greatly influenced his work.

After the revolution, with its enthusiastic, utopian ideals of building a better society, machinery was seen as having a liberating force upon the working class and in this climate, Tatlin's investigations of industrial materials really took off (Chilvers, Constructivism ¶ 2).

After his return from Paris, Tatlin began making Relief Constructions using sheet metal, wood and wire. He achieved his greatest fame however, as the architect who designed the huge Monument to the Third International, also known as "Tatlin's Tower." Planned by Tatlin in 1920, the tower was to be made of iron, glass and steel and to dwarf the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The design included building blocks with glass windows, which would rotate at different speeds, once an hour, a day and a year, and serve different accommodation functions. Prohibitive costs prevented Tatlin from executing the plan so it became part of the archives of visionary architecture (Fig. 16). Constructivism was hard to separate from the politics of the time. With revolutionary zeal, many artists proclaimed that "fine art was dead" and soon many applied artists embraced "Constructivism" which became the artistic model for angular designs being used for furniture, fabric, ceramics, as well as painting and sculpture (¶ 2).

Figure 16: Vladimir Tatlin, Model of the Project for the Monument to the Third International, 1920.

Artists, who did not wish to abandon fine art, immigrated to Europe and there developed a European or International Constructivism that was not concerned with art with a social purpose. They conceived of a purely abstract type of sculpture that nevertheless made use of industrial materials (¶ 3).

Alexander Rodchenko was one of the leading Constructivists. He moved very quickly from making impressionistic pictures in 1913 to embracing pure abstracts, made with the precision of a draftsman. He was greatly influenced by Malevich's Suprematism and his "Black on Black" composition of 1918 (Fig 17) was a response to Malevich's "White on White" paintings. Rodchenko was without the mystical leanings of Malevich, however, and saw himself as more scientific.

He invented the term "Non-Objective" to describe his work (Chilvers, Rodchenko, 2004). Rodchenko rejected "pure art" as a bourgeoisie activity and devoted all his…

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