Brief notes on my readings on Modernism/ Post-modernism

Late 19th century.

Background: Positivism, Darwinianism, urbanization, industrialism, nationalism, colonialism, marxism.
Realism: focusing on the present

Impressionism: focusing on a single moment.
Questioning of paintings' formal properties and bringing the medium's characteristics to the fore - in contrast with artists of the past that tried to conceal them as limitations.
Rise of the avant-garde.

Early 20th century.
Newton's view of the Universe as a Machine shattered by the work of Einstein etc. 
Nietzche rejected the Rational in favour of emotion and passion. Freud uncovered the power of the unconscious.

Expressionism: art expressing the artist's inner vision, in contrast to realist art.
Fauvism: art that combines impressionism's anti-theoretical credentials with the intense use of colour, like the van Gogh. They "liberated colour from its descriptive function and used it for both expressive and structural ends".
"Colour was not given to us in order that we should imitate nature... but so that we can express our own emotions."
Cubism: to move beyond the description of visual reality. 
Synthetic Cubism, 1912: cubism breaks with any decipherable reation to the visible world. "Not only did we try to displace reality; reality was no longer in the object... we didn't any longer want to fool the eye; we wanted to fool the mind". Picasso.
Purism - Le Corbusie: the adoration of the Machine Aesthetic.
Futurism: Championing the machine, war and revolution.
Dada: reaction to the insanity of war. Rationality brought Europe to the war, therefore the irrational would be the way out. The generation's disgust for the state of the world surfaced as a disgust for artistic tradition and conventions. Humorous, intuitive, embracing the young psychoanalysis, anarchic, challenging the basic artistic premises. 
Duchamp's ready-made: created 'free of any consideration of good/ bad taste, qualities formed by a society that was aesthetically bankrupt".
Expressionism on the wake of WWI.
Surrealism: bringing to the surface the world of fantasy, psyche and the subconscious. Two directions: biomorphic surrealism ("dictation of thought without control of the mind") producing mainly abstract compositions. Naturalists (e.g. Dali, Miro) produced mainly abstract compositions.
Utopian ideals - art not detached from society but contributing to a better future.
Split emerging in the avant-garde:
Suprematism - Malevich: supreme reality is pure feeling, which attaches to no object. abstract art. Constructivism in USSR: art making products useful to the people.
De Stijl. Belief in a new age after WWI. Integration of individualism with universality - Modrian's monistic style, based on a single ideal pronciple, simple geometric elements. "Art is higher than reality and has no direct relation to reality".
Bauhaus & The International Style. Organic shapes, basic forms, positive attitude to machines. Art Deco. Taste for ornamentation, based on the new materials.
Organic architecture and sculpture.

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