Fauvism, Cubism & Futurism

(1900s-1920s)

Americans and Europeans, at this time, felt that human society would advance through the spread of democracy, capitalism and technological innovation. Representative governments existed in the United States and every major European nation, and Western power grew through colonialism. The competitive nature of both colonialism and capitalism created great instability in Europe, resulting in countries joining together to form alliances, which led to WWI (1914). During this time, Russia also became Communist, which transformed European politics and economics and the United States emerged as an economic leader.

Modernism in culture and art connotes a rejection of conventions and a commitment to radical innovation. Artists liked to engage in the process of experimentation and discovery, seeking to explore new possibilities of creativity and expression in a rapidly changing world in order to define art. Each modern “ism” had its own manifesto (unique philosophy).

Common trends between these groups were the tendency toward abstraction or nonrepresentational art (more toward discovering line and geometric forms), and the continuous questioning of the idea of art through the adoption of new techniques and materials.

Fauvism, c. 1905:
Characteristics:
-explosive colors and impulsive brushwork, advancing the colorist tradition of the Impressionists (short strokes of pure color (derived from van Gogh) are combined with curvilinear planes of flat color, inspired by Gaugin)
-color/art generates its own artistic energy
-stark juxtapositions of complementary hues
- sketchy brushwork, and wildly arbitrary colors create a harsh and dissonant effect
-some works drew from the primitive art of Africa, Pre-Columbian America and Oceania
-some have themes of modern urban alienation

Cubism, 1900s-1910s:
Characteristics:
-splintered shapes, flattened space and geometric blocks of color
-quest to find a new concept of painting as an arrangement of form and color on a two-dimensional surface
-multiple angles
-reconstruct objects
-battle between what the eyes see and what the mind knows to be there – based on Einstein’s theory of relativity

Futurism, 1910s-1920s:
Characteristics:
-rejection of everything old, dull, “feminine” and safe
-promoted the exhilarating “masculine” experiences of warfare and reckless speed (of modern technology and urban life)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works:

Fauvism:

Henri Matisse, The Woman with the Hat, 1905

Cubism:

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles D’Avignon, 1907
Pablo Picasso, Ma Jolie, 1911-1912

Futurism:

Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917

 

 

Henri Matisse, The Woman with the Hat, 1905, Oil on Canvas
-explosive colors and impulsive brushwork, advance the colorist tradition of the Impressionists
-short strokes of pure color (~divisionist, derived from van Gogh and Seurat) are combined with curvilinear planes of flat color, inspired by Gaugin
-color/art generates its own artistic energy
-stark juxtapositions of complementary hues
-sketchy brushwork, and wildly arbitrary colors create a harsh and dissonant effect – created controversy and deliberate disharmonies
-Matisse uses themes of light and beauty




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles D’Avignon, 1907, Oil on Canvas
-see influence from sculpture of the Iberian region (modern Spain and Portugal) – linked with colonization and the slave trade
-identified the figures with stoic dignity of the villagers in the province of his birth – influence seen in the faces of the three leftmost figures (simplified features and wide, almond-shaped eyes)
-“Demoiselles” = a euphemism for prostitutes and “Avignon” refers to the red-light district of Barcelona
-central issue of sexuality; viewer = a participant (the women look directly at us)
-space = fractured and convulsive
-Picasso, through the women’s gazes and the hard fruit, seems to convey that women aren’t gentle and passive creatures (contradicts the tradition of erotic imagery since the Renaissance)
-response to French classical tradition
-the painting originally included males, but Picasso thought they took away from the painting – wanted the viewer to be a part of the art
-five prostitutes from a brothel, Picasso abolished perspective, no integrity to the human body, masks, destroyed beauty, = a triumph to the power of the ugly (against the tradition of seeking beauty)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pablo Picasso, Ma Jolie, 1911-1912, Oil on Canvas
-Analytic Cubism, instead of fracturing the subject, Picasso picked it apart and rearranged its elements – subject can still be discerned – a woman with a stringed instrument
-art does not = a representation of the woman (event, place, etc.), but simply a “pure painting”
-according to Picasso one should not ask what the painting represents (one should only enjoy it as is)
-tension between order and disorder – aesthetic satisfaction of such a work depends on the way chaos seems to resolve itself (the appearing random assemblage of lines and colors turns out to be a well-organized unit (w. a pyramidal shape)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913, Bronze

-aimless male nude in a powerful stride – the contours of the muscular body flutter into the surrounding space, expressing the figure’s great velocity and vitality as it rushes forward (symbol of the brave new Futurist world) – “sculpture of the environment” where forms are integrated with the surrounding space
-metal could mimic the metal of machinery in WWI – new technological advancements // time to take armor (shield oneself)
-his art reflects the works of other men who attacked “feminine” art and worked more to show experiences of warfare and reckless speed
-molding of metal reflects an older theme – Donatello
-at this time, art was created with a manifesto (explanation)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917, Porcelain Plumbing Fixture and Enamel Paint

-Duchamp believed that art should appeal to the intellect rather than the senses
-readymade – an ordinary manufactured object transformed into art simply through the decision of the artist
-fashioned an object so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new thought for that object
-would be an interesting (and controversial) experience for women who usually did not see urinals
-Duchamp liked to push the envelope with art – always making people redefine what art was or could be – wanted to evoke discussion and controversy
-asked what is the relationship between art and representation and art and beauty