Art Modernism

Topics: Abstract expressionism, Willem de Kooning, Modernism Pages: 6 (1422 words) Published: February 16, 2013



This view is concerned with understanding how an artwork is influenced by the values of the society it is produced in, and, in turn, how the artwork influences the values of the society. This includes examining the historical and cultural context in which the work was made, and religious and/or philosophical beliefs, which may have influenced the work.


This view is concerned with examining an artwork from a personal perspective. This might involve relating your own thoughts, memories, feelings, opinions, and judgments to an artwork. It can also refer to the artist’s viewpoint, opinions, judgments or feeling.


This view is concerned with identifying and interpreting how artists may use signs or symbols in their artworks and involves examining further structural features such as the visual and formal qualities of an artwork and media and techniques.


This frame involves examining how artists and artworks challenge traditional boundaries and rules and conventions in art including concepts of originality and authenticity. It also corresponds to ideas about politics, society and culture and looks at how artists often appropriate (borrow) ideas or imagery from other sources/artists.


Defining Modernism: 

- Refers to the period dating from about the 1860s to 1970s
 - Used to describe the style of the ideology of the art produced during this era
 - Modern art arose as part of the Western society’s attempt to come to terms with urban, industrial and secular society that began to emerge in the mid-19th century
 - It challenged middle class values by depicting new subjects in dislocating new styles that seemed to change at a rapid pace
 - Their allegiance to the new was embodied in the concept of avant-garde, a military term meaning advanced guard
 - Artists were ahead of their time

Types of Content Used: 
Spirituality, technology, abstraction, futurism and the art and technology of movement 

Characteristics of Modernism:

A break with tradition
- Artists broke away from traditional representations and conventional art making practices

Colour- Frees itself from its descriptive function and becomes important in itself

Distortion: stylization of space, forms (shapes) or lines in order to convey emotions and atmosphere

Formalism- the idea that art is for art’s sake. Philosophy should be about the act of art making, not an inferior attempt to represent or mimic nature

Frontality- painting provides itself as ‘surface.’ The advent of photography, together with the influx of ideas inspired by African and Oceanic cultures

Intellect vs. Craftsmanship- The idea of mass production, bringing alight questions about authenticity and authorship. Ideas such as rendered artworks and reproduction of works

Subject Matter- Artworks became more interpretive, as a visual response to social and technological change in the world, or the inner workings of the mind 

The Fragmented Object- shows how the object, subject or form becomes fragmented into many aspects

The real object- collages, assemblages, ready mades etc. Presentation became more important than representation


* Artists painted what they saw in their everyday life as opposed to the glorified subject matter that classical artists previously painted 
 * Try to communicate true modern life: contemporary events, important things to their own time, focus on the working class, painted in a non romanticized, realistic way * 
“Show me an angel and I’ll paint you one”, Courbet
 * Began in Paris during the French Revolution

* Napoleon employed Haussmann to redesign and restructure Paris. Together they transformed the city and its culture
• Encouraged the exciting nightlife, prostitutes, bars, restaurants, wider streets, better systemised city
 * Attracted artists, musicians, writers, etc to the city

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