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August Macke - Kairouan

History of Modern Art: Expressionism

Hello and welcome to the History of modern art series! Today we’ll take a closer look at the Expressionism movement!

Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.

Expressionist artists sought to express meaning or emotional experience rather than physical reality. Expressionism was developed as an avant-garde style before the First World War. It remained popular during the Weimar Republic,particularly in Berlin. The style extended to a wide range of the arts, including painting, literature, theatre, dance, film, architecture and music.

August Macke - Blick in eine Gasse

August Macke – Blick in eine Gasse

The term is sometimes suggestive of emotional angst. In a general sense, painters such as Matthias Grünewald and El Greco are sometimes termed expressionist, though in practice the term is applied mainly to 20th-century works.

The Expressionist emphasis on individual perspective has been characterized as a reaction to positivism and other artistic styles such as naturalism and impressionism.

While the word expressionist was used in the modern sense as early as 1850, its origin is sometimes traced to paintings exhibited in 1901 in Paris by an obscure artist Julien-Auguste Hervé, which he called Expressionismes.

Wassily Kandinsky - Composition VI

Wassily Kandinsky – Composition VI

Though an alternate view is that the term was coined by the Czech art historian Antonin Matějček in 1910, as the opposite of impressionism:

An Expressionist wishes, above all, to express himself… (an Expressionist rejects) immediate perception and builds on more complex psychic structures… Impressions and mental images that pass through mental peoples soul as through a filter which rids them of all substantial accretions to produce their clear essence […and] are assimilated and condense into more general forms, into types, which he transcribes through simple short-hand formulae and symbols.

Expressionism is notoriously difficult to define, in part because it “overlapped with other major ‘isms’ of the modernist period: with Futurism, Vorticism, Cubism, Surrealism and Dada.

Franz Marc - Horse in a Landscape

Franz Marc – Horse in a Landscape

Richard Murphy also comments: “the search for an all-inclusive definition is problematic to the extent that the most challenging expressionists such as Kafka, Gottfried Benn and Döblin were simultaneous the most vociferous “anti-expressionists.”

Expressionist artists sought to portray emotions and subjective interpretations. It was not important to reproduce an aesthetically pleasing impression of the artistic subject matter, they felt, but rather to represent vivid emotional reactions by powerful colours and dynamic compositions. Kandinsky, the main artist of Der Blaue Reiter group, believed that with simple colours and shapes the spectator could perceive the moods and feelings in the paintings, a theory that encouraged him towards increased abstraction.

Wassily Kandinsky - Composition VII

Wassily Kandinsky – Composition VII

After World War II, figurative expressionism influenced worldwide a large number of artists and styles. Also the Expressionist movement included other types of culture, including dance, sculpture, cinema and theatre, which are not in the scope of this article!

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Brandenburger Tor

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner – Brandenburger Tor

Cawen Alvar - Sokea soittoniekka

Cawen Alvar – Sokea soittoniekka

August Macke - Lady in a Green Jacket

August Macke – Lady in a Green Jacket

August Macke - Kairouan

August Macke – Kairouan

August Macke - Farewell

August Macke – Farewell

Franz Marc - The Fate of the Animals

Franz Marc – The Fate of the Animals

Franz Marc - Rehe im Walde

Franz Marc – Rehe im Walde

Franz Marc - Haystacks in the Snow

Franz Marc – Haystacks in the Snow

Franz Marc - Fighting Forms

Franz Marc – Fighting Forms

Franz Marc - Die großen blauen Pferde

Franz Marc – Die großen blauen Pferde

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Nollendorfplatz

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner – Nollendorfplatz

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired or are displayed here under the “ fair use” copyright law, and are available through WikipediaWikimedia.

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 22/12/2012

The Tune of the Seven Towers (1857), watercolour, Tate Britain

What is The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood?

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (also known as the Pre-Raphaelites) was a group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The three founders were joined by William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens and Thomas Woolner to form the seven-member “brotherhood”.

William Holman Hunt - The Hireling Shepherd, 1851

William Holman Hunt – The Hireling Shepherd, 1851

The group’s intention was to reform art by rejecting what it considered the mechanistic approach first adopted by Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo. Its members believed the Classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael in particular had been a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art, hence the name “Pre-Raphaelite”.

In particular, the group objected to the influence of Sir Joshua Reynolds, founder of the English Royal Academy of Arts, whom they called “Sir Sloshua“. To the Pre-Raphaelites, according to William Michael Rossetti, “sloshy” meant “anything lax or scamped in the process of painting … and hence … any thing or person of a commonplace or conventional kind“. In contrast, the brotherhood wanted a return to the abundant detail, intense colours and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian art.

Medea by Evelyn De Morgan, 1889, in quattrocento style

Medea by Evelyn De Morgan, 1889, in quattrocento style

Through the PRB initials, the brotherhood announced in coded form the arrival of a new movement in British art. The group continued to accept the concepts of history painting and mimesis, imitation of nature, as central to the purpose of art. The Pre-Raphaelites defined themselves as a reform movement, created a distinct name for their form of art, and published a periodical, The Germ, to promote their ideas. The group’s debates were recorded in the Pre-Raphaelite Journal.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in John Millais’s parents’ house on Gower Street, London in 1848. At the first meeting, the painters John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and William Holman Hunt were present. Hunt and Millais were students at the Royal Academy of Arts and had met in another loose association, the Cyclographic Club, a sketching society. At his own request Rossetti became a pupil of Ford Madox Brown in 1848. At that date, Rossetti and Hunt shared lodgings in Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia, Central London. Hunt had started painting The Eve of St. Agnes based on Keats’s poem of the same name, but it was not completed until 1867.

As an aspiring poet, Rossetti wished to develop the links between Romantic poetry and art. By autumn, four more members, painters James Collinson and Frederic George Stephens, Rossetti’s brother, poet and critic William Michael Rossetti, and sculptor Thomas Woolner, had joined to form a seven-member-strong brotherhood. Ford Madox Brown was invited to join, but the more senior artist remained independent but supported the group throughout the PRB period of Pre-Raphaelitism and contributed to The Germ. Other young painters and sculptors became close associates, including Charles Allston Collins, Thomas Tupper, and Alexander Munro. The PRB intended to keep the existence of the brotherhood secret from members of the Royal Academy.

The brotherhood’s early doctrines were expressed in four declarations:

  • to have genuine ideas to express
  • to study nature attentively, so as to know how to express them
  • to sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parodying and learned by rote
  • most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues
The Tune of the Seven Towers (1857), watercolour, Tate Britain

The Tune of the Seven Towers (1857), watercolour, Tate Britain

The principles were deliberately non-dogmatic, since the brotherhood wished to emphasize the personal responsibility of individual artists to determine their own ideas and methods of depiction. Influenced by Romanticism, the members thought freedom and responsibility were inseparable. Nevertheless, they were particularly fascinated by medieval culture, believing it to possess a spiritual and creative integrity that had been lost in later eras. The emphasis on medieval culture clashed with principles of realism which stress the independent observation of nature.

Rossetti's The Roman Widow at Museo de Arte de Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico

Rossetti’s The Roman Widow at Museo de Arte de Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico

In its early stages, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood believed its two interests were consistent with one another, but in later years the movement divided and moved in two directions. The realists were led by Hunt and Millais, while the medievalists were led by Rossetti and his followers, Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. The split was never absolute, since both factions believed that art was essentially spiritual in character, opposing their idealism to the materialist realism associated with Courbet and Impressionism.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was greatly influenced by nature and its members used great detail to show the natural world using bright and sharp focus techniques on a white canvas. In attempts to revive the brilliance of colour found in Quattrocento art, Hunt and Millais developed a technique of painting in thin glazes of pigment over a wet white ground in the hope that the colours would retain jewel-like transparency and clarity. Their emphasis on brilliance of colour was a reaction to the excessive use of bitumen by earlier British artists, such as Reynolds, David Wilkie and Benjamin Robert Haydon. Bitumen produces unstable areas of muddy darkness, an effect the Pre-Raphaelites despised.

The first exhibitions of Pre-Raphaelite work occurred in 1849. Both Millais’s Isabella (1848–1849) and Holman Hunt’s Rienzi (1848–1849) were exhibited at the Royal Academy. Rossetti’s Girlhood of Mary Virgin was shown at a Free Exhibition on Hyde Park Corner. As agreed, all members of the brotherhood signed their work with their name and the initials “PRB”. Between January and April 1850, the group published a literary magazine, The Germ edited by William Rossetti which published poetry by the Rossettis, Woolner, and Collinson and essays on art and literature by associates of the brotherhood, such as Coventry Patmore. As the short run-time implies, the magazine did not manage to achieve sustained momentum. (Daly 1989)

In 1850, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood became the subject of controversy after the exhibition of Millais’ painting Christ in the House of His Parents was considered to be blasphemous by many reviewers, notably Charles Dickens. Dickens considered Millais’ Mary to be ugly. Millais had used his sister-in-law, Mary Hodgkinson, as the model for Mary in his painting. The brotherhood’s medievalism was attacked as backward-looking and its extreme devotion to detail was condemned as ugly and jarring to the eye. According to Dickens, Millais made the Holy Family look like alcoholics and slum-dwellers, adopting contorted and absurd “medieval” poses. A rival group of older artists, The Clique, used its influence against the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and its principles were publicly attacked by the President of the Academy, Sir Charles Lock Eastlake.

After the controversy, Collinson left the brotherhood and the remaining members met to discuss whether he should be replaced by Charles Allston Collins or Walter Howell Deverell, but were unable to make a decision. From that point the group disbanded, though its influence continued. Artists who had worked in the style initially continued but no longer signed works “PRB”.

Proserpine, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Proserpine, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The brotherhood found support from the critic John Ruskin, who praised its devotion to nature and rejection of conventional methods of composition. The Pre-Raphaelites were influenced by Ruskin’s theories and he wrote to The Times defending their work and subsequently met them. Initially, he favoured Millais, who travelled to Scotland in the summer of 1853 with Ruskin and Ruskin’s wife, Effie, to paint Ruskin’s portrait. Effie’s increasing attachment to Millais (as well as Ruskin’s non-consummation of their marriage) created a crisis, leading Effie to leave and have the marriage annulled on grounds that it had not been consummated, and marry Millais, which caused a public scandal.

Millais abandoned the Pre-Raphaelite style after his marriage, and Ruskin savagely attacked his later works. Ruskin continued to support Hunt and Rossetti and provided funds to encourage the art of Rossetti’s wife Elizabeth Siddal.

Artists influenced by the brotherhood include John Brett, Philip Calderon, Arthur Hughes, Gustave Moreau, Evelyn De Morgan, Frederic Sandys (who came into the Pre-Raphaelite circle in 1857), and John William Waterhouse. Ford Madox Brown, who was associated with them from the beginning, is often seen as most closely adopting the Pre-Raphaelite principles. One follower who developed his own distinct style was Aubrey Beardsley, who was pre-eminently influenced by Burne-Jones.

After 1856, Dante Gabriel Rossetti became an inspiration for the medievalising strand of the movement. He was the link between the two types of Pre Raphaelite painting (nature and Romance) after the PRB became lost in the late 1800s. Rossetti, although the least committed to the brotherhood, continued the name and changed its style. He began painting versions of femme fatales using models like Jane Morris, in paintings such as: Proserpine, the blue silk dress, La Pia de’ Tolomei, etc. His work influenced his friend William Morris, in whose firm Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. he became a partner, and with whose wife Jane he may have had an affair.

Ford Madox Brown and Edward Burne-Jones also became partners in the firm. Through Morris’s company, the ideals of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood influenced many interior designers and architects, arousing interest in medieval designs and other crafts leading to the Arts and Crafts movement headed by William Morris. Holman Hunt was involved with the movement to reform design through the Della Robbia Pottery company.

Christ In the House of His Parents, by John Everett Millais, 1850

Christ In the House of His Parents, by John Everett Millais, 1850

After 1850, Hunt and Millais moved away from direct imitation of medieval art. They stressed the realist and scientific aspects of the movement, though Hunt continued to emphasise the spiritual significance of art, seeking to reconcile religion and science by making accurate observations and studies of locations in Egypt and Palestine for his paintings on biblical subjects. In contrast, Millais abandoned Pre-Raphaelitism after 1860, adopting a much broader and looser style influenced by Reynolds. William Morris and others condemned his reversal of principles.

Pre-Raphaleitism had a significant impact in Scotland and on Scottish artists. The figure in Scottish art most associated with the Pre-Raphaelites was the Aberdeen-born William Dyce (1806–64). Dyce befriended the young Pre-Raphaelites in London and introduced their work to Ruskin. His later work was Pre-Raphaelite in its spirituality, as can be seen in his The Man of Sorrows and David in the Wilderness (both 1860), which contain a Pre-Raphaelite attention to detail.

Joseph Noel Paton (1821-1901) studied at the Royal Academy schools in London, where he became a friend of Millais and he subsequently followed him into Pre-Raphaelitism, producing pictures that stressed detail and melodrama such as The Bludie Tryst (1855). His later paintings, like those of Millias, have been criticised for descending into popular sentimentality. Also influenced by Millias was James Archer (1823-1904) and whose work includes Summertime, Gloucestershire (1860)[13] and who from 1861 began a series of Arthurian-based paintings including La Morte d’Arthur and Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere.

The movement influenced many later British artists into the 20th century. Rossetti came to be seen as a precursor of the wider European Symbolist movement. In the late 20th century the Brotherhood of Ruralists based its aims on Pre-Raphaelitism, while the Stuckists and the Birmingham Group have also derived inspiration from it.

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery has a world-renowned collection of works by Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites that, some claim, strongly influenced the young J.R.R. Tolkien, who wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, with influences taken from the same mythological scenes portrayed by the Pre-Raphaelites.

In the 20th century artistic ideals changed and art moved away from representing reality. Since the Pre-Raphaelites were fixed on portraying things with near-photographic precision, though with a distinctive attention to detailed surface-patterns, their work was devalued by many painters and critics. After the First World War, British Modernists associated Pre-Raphaelite art with the repressive and backward times in which they grew up. In the 1960s there was a major revival of Pre-Raphaelitism. Exhibitions and catalogues of works, culminating in a 1984 exhibition in London’s Tate Gallery, re-established a canon of Pre-Raphaelite work.

Ophelia, by John Everett Millais

Ophelia, by John Everett Millais

There are major collections of Pre-Raphaelite work in the Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Manchester Art Gallery, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The Art Gallery of South Australia and the Delaware Art Museum have the most significant collections of Pre-Raphaelite art outside the United Kingdom.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is an avid collector of Pre-Raphaelite works and a selection of 300 items from his collection were shown at a major exhibition at the Royal Academy in 2003.

The National Trust houses at Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton, and at Wallington Hall, Northumberland, both have significant and representative collections.

Kelmscott Manor, the country home of William Morris from 1871 until his death in 1896, owned by the Society of Antiquaries of London, is open to the public. The Manor is featured in Morris’ work News from Nowhere. It also appears in the background of Water Willow, a portrait of his wife, Jane Morris, painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1871. There are exhibits connected with Morris and Rossetti’s early experiments with photography.

There is a set of Pre-Raphaelite murals in the Old Library at the Oxford Union. These were painted between 1857 and 1859 by a team of young artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. The paintings depict scenes from the Arthurian legends. This podcast tells you the story of how the murals were painted. Oxford Brookes University YouTube Channel also has a series of podcasts on the Pre-Raphaelites in Oxford, with this one dedicated to the Union murals.

The story of the brotherhood, from its controversial first exhibition to being embraced by the art establishment, has been depicted in two BBC television series. The first, The Love School, was broadcast in 1975; the second is the 2009 BBC television drama serial Desperate Romantics by Peter Bowker. Although much of the latter’s material is derived from Franny Moyle’s factual book Desperate Romantics: The Private Lives of the Pre-Raphaelites, the series occasionally departs from established facts in favour of dramatic licence and is prefaced by the disclaimer: “In the mid-19th century, a group of young men challenged the art establishment of the day. The pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were inspired by the real world around them, yet took imaginative licence in their art. This story, based on their lives and loves, follows in that inventive spirit.” Ken Russell’s television film Dante’s Inferno (1967) contains brief scenes on some of the leading Pre-Raphaelites but mainly concentrates on the life of Rossetti, played by Oliver Reed.

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired or are displayed here under the “ fair use” copyright law, and are available through WikipediaWikimedia.

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 12/02/2014

Parmigianino - Madonna and Child with Saints

What is Mannerism?

Mannerism is a period of European art that emerged from the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520. It lasted until about 1580 in Italy, when the Baroque style began to replace it, but Northern Mannerism continued into the early 17th century. Stylistically, Mannerism encompasses a variety of approaches influenced by, and reacting to, the harmonious ideals associated with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and early Michelangelo. While High Renaissance explored harmonious ideals, Mannerism wanted to go a step further.

Mannerism is notable for its intellectual sophistication as well as its artificial (as opposed to naturalistic) qualities.Mannerism favors compositional tension and instability rather than the balance and clarity of earlier Renaissance painting. Mannerism in literature and music is notable for its highly florid style and intellectual sophistication.

Agnolo Bronzino - Venus, Cupid and Time (Allegory of Lust)

Agnolo Bronzino – Venus, Cupid and Time (Allegory of Lust)

The definition of Mannerism, and the phases within it, continues to be the subject of debate among art historians. For example, some scholars have applied the label to certain early modern forms of literature (especially poetry) and music of the 16th and 17th centuries. The term is also used to refer to some Late Gothic painters working in northern Europe from about 1500 to 1530, especially the Antwerp Mannerists—a group unrelated to the Italian movement. Mannerism also has been applied by analogy to the Silver Age of Latin literature.

The word mannerism derives from the Italian maniera, meaning “style” or “manner”. Like the English word “style”, maniera can either indicate a specific type of style (a beautiful style, an abrasive style) or indicate an absolute that needs no qualification (someone “has style”). In the second edition of his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1568), Giorgio Vasari used maniera in three different contexts: to discuss an artist’s manner or method of working; to describe a personal or group style, such as the term maniera greca to refer to the Byzantine style or simply to the maniera of Michelangelo; and to affirm a positive judgment of artistic quality.

Vasari was also a Mannerist artist, and he described the period in which he worked as “la maniera moderna”, or the “modern style”.James V. Mirollo describes how “bella maniera” poets attempted to surpass in virtuosity the sonnets of Petrarch. This notion of “bella maniera” suggests that artists thus inspired looked to copying and bettering their predecessors, rather than confronting nature directly. In essence, “bella maniera” utilized the best from a number of source materials, synthesizing it into something new.

As a stylistic label, “Mannerism” is not easily defined. It was used by Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt and popularized by German art historians in the early 20th century to categorize the seemingly uncategorizable art of the Italian 16th century — art that was no longer found to exhibit the harmonious and rational approaches associated with the High Renaissance. “High Renaissance” connoted a period distinguished by harmony, grandeur and the revival of classical antiquity. (The term was redefined in 1967 by John Shearman.) The label “Mannerism” was used during the 16th century to comment on social behaviour and to convey a refined virtuoso quality or to signify a certain technique. However, for later writers, such as the 17th-century Gian Pietro Bellori, “la maniera” was a derogatory term for the perceived decline of art after Raphael, especially in the 1530s and 1540s. From the late 19th century on, art historians have commonly used the term to describe art that follows Renaissance classicism and precedes the Baroque.

Yet historians differ as to whether Mannerism is a style, a movement, or a period; and while the term remains controversial it is still commonly used to identify European art and culture of the 16th century.

Influential Mannerism Artists Include:

Parmigianino - Madonna dal Collo Lungo (Madonna with Long Neck)

Parmigianino – Madonna dal Collo Lungo (Madonna with Long Neck)

Early Mannerism

The early Mannerists in Florence—especially the students of Andrea del Sarto: Jacopo da Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino—are notable for elongated forms, precariously balanced poses, a collapsed perspective, irrational settings, and theatrical lighting. Parmigianino (a student of Correggio) and Giulio Romano (Raphael’s head assistant) were moving in similarly stylized aesthetic directions in Rome. These artists had matured under the influence of the High Renaissance, and their style has been characterized as a reaction or exaggerated extension of it. Instead of studying nature directly, younger artists began studying Hellenistic sculpture and paintings of masters past. Therefore, this style is often identified as “anti-classical”, yet at the time it was considered a natural progression from the High Renaissance. The earliest experimental phase of Mannerism, known for its “anti-classical” forms, lasted until about 1540 or 1550. Marcia B. Hall, professor of art history at Temple University, notes in her book After Raphael that Raphael’s premature death marked the beginning of Mannerism in Rome.

In past analyses, it has been noted that mannerism arose in the early 16th century contemporaneously with a number of other social, scientific, religious and political movements such as the Copernican model, the Sack of Rome, and the Protestant Reformation’s increasing challenge to the power of the Catholic Church. Because of this, the style’s elongated forms and distorted forms were once interpreted as a reaction to the idealized compositions prevalent in High Renaissance art. This explanation for the radical stylistic shift c. 1520 has fallen out of scholarly favor, though early Mannerist art is still sharply contrasted with High Renaissance conventions; the accessibility and balance achieved by Raphael’s School of Athens no longer seemed to interest young artists.

High Maniera

The second period of Mannerism is commonly differentiated from the earlier, so-called “anti-classical” phase. Subsequent mannerists stressed intellectual conceits and artistic virtuosity, features that have led later critics to accuse them of working in an unnatural and affected “manner” (maniera). Maniera artists looked to their older contemporary Michelangelo as their principal model; theirs was an art imitating art, rather than an art imitating nature. Freedberg argues that the intellectualizing aspect of maniera art involves expecting its audience to notice and appreciate this visual reference—a familiar figure in an unfamiliar setting enclosed between “unseen, but felt, quotation marks.”

The height of artifice is the Maniera painter’s penchant for deliberately misappropriating a quotation. Agnolo Bronzino and Giorgio Vasari exemplify this strain of Maniera that lasted from about 1530 to 1580. Based largely at courts and in intellectual circles around Europe, Maniera art couples exaggerated elegance with exquisite attention to surface and detail: porcelain-skinned figures recline in an even, tempered light, acknowledging the viewer with a cool glance, if they make eye contact at all. The Maniera subject rarely displays much emotion, and for this reason works exemplifying this trend are often called ‘cold’ or ‘aloof.’ This is typical of the so-called “stylish style” or Maniera in its maturity.

Jacopo da Pontormo - Joseph Being Sold to Potiphar

Jacopo da Pontormo – Joseph Being Sold to Potiphar

Spread of Mannerism

The cities Rome, Florence, and Mantua were Mannerist centers in Italy. Venetian painting pursued a different course, represented by Titian in his long career. A number of the earliest Mannerist artists who had been working in Rome during the 1520s fled the city after the Sack of Rome in 1527. As they spread out across the continent in search of employment, their style was disseminated throughout Italy and Northern Europe. The result was the first international artistic style since the Gothic. Other parts of Northern Europe did not have the advantage of such direct contact with Italian artists, but the Mannerist style made its presence felt through prints and illustrated books. European rulers, among others, purchased Italian works, while northern European artists continued to travel to Italy, helping to spread the Mannerist style. Individual Italian artists working in the North gave birth to a movement known as the Northern Mannerism. Francis I of France, for example, was presented with Bronzino’s Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time. The style waned in Italy after 1580, as a new generation of artists, including the Carracci brothers, Caravaggio and Cigoli, revived naturalism. Walter Friedlaender identified this period as “anti-mannerism”, just as the early mannerists were “anti-classical” in their reaction away from the aesthetic values of the High Renaissance.

Stucco overdoor at Fontainebleau, probably designed by Primaticcio, who painted the oval inset, 1530s or 1540s

Stucco overdoor at Fontainebleau, probably designed by Primaticcio, who painted the oval inset, 1530s or 1540s

Outside of Italy, however, Mannerism continued into the 17th century. In France, where Rosso traveled to work for the court at Fontainebleau, it is known as the “Henry II style” and had a particular impact on architecture. Other important continental centers of Northern Mannerism include the court of Rudolf II in Prague, as well as Haarlem and Antwerp. Mannerism as a stylistic category is less frequently applied to English visual and decorative arts, where native labels such as “Elizabethan” and “Jacobean” are more commonly applied. Seventeenth-century Artisan Mannerism is one exception, applied to architecture that relies on pattern books rather than on existing precedents in Continental Europe.
Of particular note is the Flemish influence at Fontainebleau that combined the eroticism of the French style with an early version of the vanitas tradition that would dominate seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish painting. Prevalent at this time was the “pittore vago,” a description of painters from the north who entered the workshops in France and Italy to create a truly international style.

Mannerism in Sculpture

As in painting, early Italian Mannerist sculpture was very largely an attempt to find an original style that would top the achievement of the High Renaissance, which in sculpture essentially meant Michelangelo, and much of the struggle to achieve this was played out in commissions to fill other places in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, next to Michelangelo’s David. Baccio Bandinelli took over the project of Hercules and Cacus from the master himself, but it was little more popular then than it is now, and maliciously compared by Benvenuto Cellini to “a sack of melons”, though it had a long-lasting effect in apparently introducing relief panels on the pedestal of statues. Like other works of his and other Mannerists it removes far more of the original block than Michelangelo would have done. Cellini’s bronze Perseus with the head of Medusa is certainly a masterpiece, designed with eight angles of view, another Mannerist characteristic, and artificially stylized in comparison with the Davids of Michelangelo and Donatello. Originally a goldsmith, his famous gold and enamel Salt Cellar (1543) was his first sculpture, and shows his talent at its best.

Small bronze figures for collector’s cabinets, often mythological subjects with nudes, were a popular Renaissance form at which Giambologna, originally Flemish but based in Florence, excelled in the later part of the century. He also created life-size sculptures, of which two entered the collection in the Piazza della Signoria. He and his followers devised elegant elongated examples of the figura serpentinata, often of two intertwined figures, that were interesting from all angles.

Mannerism in literature and music

In English literature, Mannerism is commonly identified with the qualities of the “Metaphysical” poets of whom the most famous is John Donne. The witty sally of a Baroque writer, John Dryden, against the verse of Donne in the previous generation, affords a concise contrast between Baroque and Mannerist aims in the arts: He affects the metaphysics, not only in his satires but in his amorous verses, where nature only should reign; and perplexes the minds of the fair sex with nice speculations of philosophy when he should engage their hearts and entertain them with the softnesses of love.

The rich musical possibilities in the poetry of the late 16th and early 17th centuries provided an attractive basis for the madrigal, which quickly rose to prominence as the pre-eminent musical form in Italian musical culture, as discussed by Tim Carter: The madrigal, particularly in its aristocratic guise, was obviously a vehicle for the ‘stylish style’ of Mannerism, with poets and musicians revelling in witty conceits and other visual, verbal and musical tricks to delight the connoisseur.

The word Mannerism has also been used to describe the style of highly florid and contrapuntally complex polyphonic music made in France in the late 14th century. This period is now usually referred to as the ars subtilior.

Mannerism and Theatre

The Early Commedia dell’Arte (1550–1621): The Mannerist Context by Paul Castagno discusses Mannerism’s effect on the contemporary professional theatre. Castagno’s was the first study to define a theatrical form as Mannerist, employing the vocabulary of Mannerism and maniera to discuss the typification, exaggerated, and effetto meraviglioso of the comici dell’arte. The study is largely iconographic, presenting a pictorial evidence that many of the artists who painted or printed commedia images were in fact, coming from the workshops of the day, heavily ensconced in the maniera tradition.

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired or are displayed here under the “ fair use” copyright law, and are available through WikipediaWikimedia.

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Article publié pour la première fois le 31/12/2013

Max Ernst, L'Ange du Foyer ou le Triomphe du Surréalisme (1937), private collection.

History of Modern Art: Surrealism

Hello folks, welcome back to our weekly series of History of Modern Art. Today we’ll review the movement of Surrealism.

Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for its visual artworks and writings. Surrealist works feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur; however, many Surrealist artists and writers regard their work as an expression of the philosophical movement first and foremost, with the works being an artefact. Leader André Breton was explicit in his assertion that Surrealism was above all a revolutionary movement.

Surrealism developed out of the Dada activities during World War I and the most important center of the movement was Paris. From the 1920s onward, the movement spread around the globe, eventually affecting the visual arts, literature, film, and music of many countries and languages, as well as political thought and practice, philosophy, and social theory.

World War I scattered the writers and artists who had been based in Paris, and in the interim many became involved with Dada, believing that excessive rational thought and bourgeois values had brought the conflict of the war upon the world. The Dadaists protested with anti-art gatherings, performances, writings and art works. After the war, when they returned to Paris, the Dada activities continued.

Willem-De-Kooning-Woman-V-1952–1953.

History of Modern Art: Abstract Expressionism

Hello folks! Welcome to our weekly series on the history of modern art! Today on review is the abstract expressionism movement.

Hans Hofmann The Gate, 1959–1960.

Hans Hofmann The Gate, 1959–1960.

Abstract expressionism was an American post–World War II art movement. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve international influence and put New York City at the center of the western art world, a role formerly filled by Paris. Although the term “abstract expressionism” was first applied to American art in 1946 by the art critic Robert Coates, it had been first used in Germany in 1919 in the magazine Der Sturm, regarding German Expressionism. In the United States, Alfred Barr was the first to use this term in 1929 in relation to works by Wassily Kandinsky.

Technically, an important predecessor is surrealism, with its emphasis on spontaneous, automatic or subconscious creation. Jackson Pollock’s dripping paint onto a canvas laid on the floor is a technique that has its roots in the work of André Masson, Max Ernst and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Another important early manifestation of what came to be abstract expressionism is the work of American Northwest artist Mark Tobey, especially his “white writing” canvases, which, though generally not large in scale, anticipate the “all-over” look of Pollock’s drip paintings.

The movement’s name is derived from the combination of the emotional intensity and self-denial of the German Expressionists with the anti-figurative aesthetic of the European abstract schools such as Futurism, the Bauhaus and Synthetic Cubism. Additionally, it has an image of being rebellious, anarchic, highly idiosyncratic and, some feel, nihilistic.

In practice, the term is applied to any number of artists working (mostly) in New York who had quite different styles and even to work that is neither especially abstract nor expressionist. California Abstract Expressionist Jay Meuser, who typically painted in the non-objective style, wrote about his painting Mare Nostrum, “It is far better to capture the glorious spirit of the sea than to paint all of its tiny ripples.” Pollock’s energetic “action paintings”, with their “busy” feel, are different, both technically and aesthetically, from the violent and grotesque Women series of Willem de Kooning’s figurative paintings and the rectangles of color in Mark Rothko’s Color Field paintings (which are not what would usually be called expressionist and which Rothko denied were abstract). Yet all four artists are classified as abstract expressionists.

774px-Eugene_Manet_and_His_Daughter_in_the_Garden_1883_Berthe_Morisot

History of Modern Art: Impressionism

In this short series, we’ll review the history of modern art , starting from Impressionism and going through the years to reach back at today. Following the journey will also make you understand better contemporary art and why art history is an important knowledge for designers and artists alike.

You might object how modern are really art movements over 100 years old. Still considering the timeline of art history that dates back to the first cave drawings, then i think a mere 100 years are more than modern! I hope you join me to this journey, and enjoy it as much as i do.

Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s in spite of harsh opposition from the art community in France. The name of the style is derived from the title of a Claude Monet work, Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise), which provoked the critic Louis Leroy to coin the term in a satiric review published in the Parisian newspaper Le Charivari.

Characteristics of Impressionist paintings include relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes; open composition; emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time); common, ordinary subject matter; the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience; and unusual visual angles. The development of Impressionism in the visual arts was soon followed by analogous styles in other media which became known as Impressionist music and Impressionist literature.

Claude Monet - Tulpen von Holland

Claude Monet – Tulpen von Holland

Although the emergence of Impressionism in France happened at a time when a number of other painters, including the Italian artists known as the Macchiaioli, and Winslow Homer in the United States, were also exploring plein-air painting, the Impressionists developed new techniques that were specific to the style. Encompassing what its adherents argued was a different way of seeing, it was an art of immediacy and movement, of candid poses and compositions, of the play of light expressed in a bright and varied use of colour.

The public, at first hostile, gradually came to believe that the Impressionists had captured a fresh and original vision, even if the new style did not receive the approval of the art critics and establishment.

Claude Monet - Jeanne Marguerite Lecadre in the Garden Sainte Adresse

Claude Monet – Jeanne Marguerite Lecadre in the Garden Sainte Adresse

By recreating the sensation in the eye that views the subject, rather than delineating the details of the subject, and by creating a welter of techniques and forms, Impressionism became a precursor of various styles of painting, including Neo-Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism (which we’ll explore in future articles).

Impressionist techniques include:

  1. Short, thick strokes of paint are used to quickly capture the essence of the subject, rather than its details. The paint is often applied impasto.
  2. Colours are applied side-by-side with as little mixing as possible, creating a vibrant surface. The optical mixing of colours occurs in the eye of the viewer.
  3. Grays and dark tones are produced by mixing complementary colours. In pure Impressionism the use of black paint is avoided.
  4. Wet paint is placed into wet paint without waiting for successive applications to dry, producing softer edges and an intermingling of colour.
  5. Painting during evening to get effets de soir—the shadowy effects of the light in the evening or twilight.
  6. Impressionist paintings do not exploit the transparency of thin paint films (glazes) which earlier artists manipulated carefully to produce effects. The surface of an Impressionist painting is typically opaque.
  7. The play of natural light is emphasized. Close attention is paid to the reflection of colours from object to object.
  8. In paintings made en plein air (outdoors), shadows are boldly painted with the blue of the sky as it is reflected onto surfaces, giving a sense of freshness that was not represented in painting previously. (Blue shadows on snow inspired the technique.)
Painters throughout history had occasionally used these methods, but Impressionists were the first to use all of them together, and with such consistency. Earlier artists whose works display these techniques include Frans Hals, Diego Velázquez, Peter Paul Rubens, John Constable, and J. M. W. Turner. French painters who prepared the way for Impressionism include the Romantic colourist Eugène Delacroix, the leader of the realists Gustave Courbet, and painters of the Barbizon school such as Théodore Rousseau.

The Impressionists learned much from the work of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Eugène Boudin, who painted from nature in a style that was similar to Impressionism, and who befriended and advised the younger artists. Impressionists took advantage of the mid-century introduction of premixed paints in lead tubes (resembling modern toothpaste tubes), which allowed artists to work more spontaneously, both outdoors and indoors. Previously, painters made their own paints individually, by grinding and mixing dry pigment powders with linseed oil, which were then stored in animal bladders.

Prior to the Impressionists, other painters, notably such 17th-century Dutch painters as Jan Steen, had emphasized common subjects, but their methods of composition were traditional. They arranged their compositions in such a way that the main subject commanded the viewer’s attention. The Impressionists relaxed the boundary between subject and background so that the effect of an Impressionist painting often resembles a snapshot, a part of a larger reality captured as if by chance. Photography was gaining popularity, and as cameras became more portable, photographs became more candid. Photography inspired Impressionists to represent momentary action, not only in the fleeting lights of a landscape, but in the day-to-day lives of people.

The development of Impressionism can be considered partly as a reaction by artists to the challenge presented by photography, which seemed to devalue the artist’s skill in reproducing reality. Both portrait and landscape paintings were deemed somewhat deficient and lacking in truth as photography “produced lifelike images much more efficiently and reliably”

Another major influence was Japanese art prints (Japonism), which had come into France originally as wrapping paper for imported goods. The art of these prints contributed significantly to the “snapshot” angles and unconventional compositions which would become characteristic of the style.

Claude Monet - Die Seine am morgen im Regen

Claude Monet – Die Seine am morgen im Regen

Edgar Degas was both an avid photographer and a collector of Japanese prints. His The Dance Class (La classe de danse) of 1874 shows both influences in its asymmetrical composition. The dancers are seemingly caught off guard in various awkward poses, leaving an expanse of empty floor space in the lower right quadrant. His dancers were also captured in sculpture such as The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer

The central figures in the development of Impressionism in France, listed alphabetically, were:

Pierre-Auguste Renoir -  Sur la terrasse

Pierre-Auguste Renoir – Sur la terrasse

Claude Monet  - Woman with a Parasol

Claude Monet – Woman with a Parasol

Édouard Manet - Frühstück im Atelier

Édouard Manet – Frühstück im Atelier

Pierre-Auguste Renoir - By the Water

Pierre-Auguste Renoir – By the Water

Alfred Sisley - Bords du Loing à Saint-Mammès

Alfred Sisley – Bords du Loing à Saint-Mammès

Paul Cézanne - Kartenspieler

Paul Cézanne – Kartenspieler

Édouard Manet - Das Frühstück im Grünen

Édouard Manet – Das Frühstück im Grünen

Berthe Morisot - Eugene Manet and His Daughter in the Garden

Berthe Morisot – Eugene Manet and His Daughter in the Garden

Berthe Morisot - The Harbor at Lorient

Berthe Morisot – The Harbor at Lorient

Édouard Manet - Le Bar des Folies-Bergère

Édouard Manet – Le Bar des Folies-Bergère

Claude Monet - Boulvard Saint Denis in Argenteuil im Winter

Claude Monet – Boulvard Saint Denis in Argenteuil im Winter

Camille Pissarro - Hay Harvest at Éragny

Camille Pissarro – Hay Harvest at Éragny

Pierre-Auguste Renoir - The Luncheon of the Boating Party

Pierre-Auguste Renoir – The Luncheon of the Boating Party

Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Photo of painting Oarsemen at Chatou

Pierre-Auguste Renoir – Photo of painting Oarsemen at Chatou

Painting by Edgar Degas

Painting by Edgar Degas

Painting by Edgar Degas

Painting by Edgar Degas

Hope you enjoyed our short journey through Impressionism and are willing to explore more the individual artists!

In the meantime i’d love to hear what you think of impressionism as a movement, and which of the above artists were the more influential in your opinion?

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This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 24/11/2012

Jacques-Louis David - The Oath of the Horatii

What is Neoclassicism?

Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the “classical” art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome. The main Neoclassical movement coincided with the 18th century Age of Enlightenment, and continued into the early 19th century, latterly competing with Romanticism. In architecture, the style continued throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and into the 21st.

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres - Oedipus and the Sphynx

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres – Oedipus and the Sphynx

Neoclassicism is a revival of the styles and spirit of classic antiquity inspired directly from the classical period, which coincided and reflected the developments in philosophy and other areas of the Age of Enlightenment, and was initially a reaction against the excesses of the preceding Rococo style. While the movement is often described as the opposed counterpart of Romanticism, this is a great over-simplification that tends not to be sustainable when specific artists or works are considered, the case of the supposed main champion of late Neoclassicism, Ingres, demonstrating this especially well. The revival can be traced to the establishment of formal archaeology. The writings of Johann Joachim Winckelmann were important in shaping this movement in both architecture and the visual arts. His books, Thoughts on the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and Sculpture (1750) and Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums (“History of Ancient Art”, 1764) were the first to distinguish sharply between Ancient Greek and Roman art, and define periods within Greek art, tracing a trajectory from growth to maturity and then imitation or decadence that continues to have influence to the present day. Winckelmann believed that art should aim at “noble simplicity and calm grandeur”, and praised the idealism of Greek art, in which he said we find: “not only nature at its most beautiful but also something beyond nature, namely certain ideal forms of its beauty, which, as an ancient interpreter of Plato teaches us, come from images created by the mind alone.” The theory was very far from new in Western art, but his emphasis on close copying of Greek models was: “The only way for us to become great or, if this be possible, inimitable, is to imitate the ancients”.

With the advent of the Grand Tour, a fad of collecting antiquities began that laid the foundations of many great collections spreading a Neoclassical revival throughout Europe. “Neoclassicism” in each art implies a particular canon of a “classical” model.

In English, the term “Neoclassicism” is used primarily of the visual arts; the similar movement in English literature, which began considerably earlier, is called Augustan literature, which had been dominant for several decades, and was beginning to decline, by the time Neoclassicism in the visual arts became fashionable. Though terms differ, the situation in French literature was similar. In music, the period saw the rise of classical music, and “neoclassicism” is used of 20th century developments. However the operas of Christoph Willibald Gluck, represented a specifically neo-classical approach, spelt out in his preface to the published score of Alceste (1769), which aimed to reform opera by removing ornamentation, increasing the role of the chorus in line with Greek tragedy, and using simpler unadorned melodic lines.

Le triomphe de 1810, Jean-Pierre Cortot, from the Arc de triomphe

Le triomphe de 1810, Jean-Pierre Cortot, from the Arc de triomphe

The term “Neoclassical” was not invented until the mid-19th century, and at the time the style was described by such terms as “the true style”, “reformed” and “revival”; what was regarded as being revived varying considerably. Ancient models were certainly very much involved, but the style could also be regarded as a revival of the Renaissance, and especially in France as a return to the more austere and noble Baroque of the age of Louis XIV, for which a considerable nostalgia had developed as France’s dominant military and political position started a serious decline. Ingres’s coronation portrait of Napoleon even borrowed from Late Antique consular diptychs and their Carolingian revival, to the disapproval of critics.

Neoclassicism was strongest in architecture, sculpture and the decorative arts, where classical models in the same medium were relatively numerous and accessible; examples from ancient painting that demonstrated the qualities that Winckelmann’s writing found in sculpture were and are lacking. Winckelmann was involved in the dissemination of knowledge of the first large Roman paintings to be discovered, at Pompeii and Herculaneum and, like most contemporaries except for Gavin Hamilton, was unimpressed by them, citing Pliny the Younger’s comments on the decline of painting in his period.

European Neoclassicism in the visual arts began c. 1760 in opposition to the then-dominant Baroque and Rococo styles. Rococo architecture emphasizes grace, ornamentation and asymmetry; Neoclassical architecture is based on the principles of simplicity and symmetry, which were seen as virtues of the arts of Rome and Ancient Greece, and were more immediately drawn from 16th century Renaissance Classicism. Each “neo”- classicism selects some models among the range of possible classics that are available to it, and ignores others. The neoclassical writers and talkers, patrons and collectors, artists and sculptors of 1765–1830 paid homage to an idea of the generation of Pheidias, but the sculpture examples they actually embraced were more likely to be Roman copies of Hellenistic sculptures. They ignored both Archaic Greek art and the works of Late Antiquity.

The Rococo art of ancient Palmyra came as a revelation, through engravings in Wood’s The Ruins of Palmyra. Even Greece was all-but-unvisited, a rough backwater of the Ottoman Empire, dangerous to explore, so neoclassicists’ appreciation of Greek architecture was mediated through drawings and engravings, which subtly smoothed and regularized, “corrected’ and “restored” the monuments of Greece, not always consciously. As for painting, Greek painting was utterly lost: neoclassicist painters imaginatively revived it, partly through bas-relief friezes, mosaics, and pottery painting and partly through the examples of painting and decoration of the High Renaissance of Raphael’s generation, frescos in Nero’s Domus Aurea, Pompeii and Herculaneum and through renewed admiration of Nicholas Poussin. Much “neoclassical” painting is more classicizing in subject matter than in anything else. A fierce, but often very badly informed, dispute raged for decades over the relative merits of Greek and Roman art, with Winckelmann and his fellow Hellenists generally the winning side.

Jacques-Louis David - The Intervention of the Sabine Women

Jacques-Louis David – The Intervention of the Sabine Women

Influential Neoclassicism Artists

Painting and printmaking

It is hard to recapture the radical and exciting nature of early neo-classical painting for contemporary audiences; it now strikes even those writers favourably inclined to it as “insipid” and “almost entirely uninteresting to us”—some of Kenneth Clark’s comments on Anton Raphael Mengs’ ambitious Parnassus at the Villa Albani, by the artist who his friend Winckelmann described as “the greatest artist of his own, and perhaps of later times”. The drawings, subsequently turned into prints, of John Flaxman used very simple line drawing (thought to be the purest classical medium) and figures mostly in profile to depict The Odyssey and other subjects, and once “fired the artistic youth of Europe” but are now “neglected”, while the history paintings of Angelica Kauffman, mainly a portraitist, are described as having “an unctuous softness and tediousness” by Fritz Novotny. Rococo frivolity and Baroque movement had been stripped away but many artists struggled to put anything in their place, and in the absence of ancient examples for history painting, other than the Greek vases used by Flaxman, Raphael tended to be used as a substitute model, as Winckelmann recommended.

Angelica Kauffman, Venus Induces Helen to Fall in Love with Paris, 1790

Angelica Kauffman, Venus Induces Helen to Fall in Love with Paris, 1790

The work of other artists, who could not easily be described as insipid, combined aspects of Romanticism with a generally Neoclassical style, and form part of the history of both movements. The German-Danish painter Asmus Jacob Carstens finished very few of the large mythological works that he planned, leaving mostly drawings and colour studies which often succeed in approaching Winckelmann’s prescription of “noble simplicity and calm grandeur”. Unlike Carstens’ unrealized schemes, the etchings of Giovanni Battista Piranesi were numerous and profitable, and taken back by those making the Grand Tour to all parts of Europe. His main subject matter was the buildings and ruins of Rome, and he was more stimulated by the ancient than the modern. The somewhat disquieting atmosphere of many of his Vedute (views) becomes dominant in his series of 16 prints of Carceri d’Invenzione (“Imaginary Prisons”) whose “oppressive cyclopean architecture” conveys “dreams of fear and frustration”. The Swiss-born Johann Heinrich Füssli spent most of his career in England, and while his fundamental style was based on neoclassical principles, his subjects and treatment more often reflected the “Gothic” strain of Romanticism, and sought to evoke drama and excitement.

Neoclassicism in painting gained a new sense of direction with the sensational success of Jacques-Louis David’s Oath of the Horatii at the Paris Salon of 1785. Despite its evocation of republican virtues, this was a commission by the royal government, which David insisted on painting in Rome. David managed to combine an idealist style with drama and forcefulness. The central perspective is perpendicular to the picture plane, made more emphatic by the dim arcade behind, against which the heroic figures are disposed as in a frieze, with a hint of the artificial lighting and staging of opera, and the classical colouring of Nicholas Poussin. David rapidly became the leader of French art, and after the French Revolution became a politician with control of much government patronage in art. He managed to retain his influence in the Napoleonic period, turning to frankly propagandistic works, but had to leave France for exile in Brussels at the Bourbon Restoration.

David’s many students included Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, who saw himself as a classicist throughout his long career, despite a mature style that has an equivocal relationship with the main current of Neoclassicism, and many later diversions into Orientalism and the Troubadour style that are hard to distinguish from those of his unabashedly Romantic contemporaries, except by the primacy his works always give to drawing. He exhibited at the Salon for over 60 years, from 1802 into the beginnings of Impressionism, but his style, once formed, changed little.

Antonio Canova's Psyche Revived by Love's Kiss

Antonio Canova’s Psyche Revived by Love’s Kiss

Sculpture

Hebe by Canova (1800–05), in the appropriately neoclassical surroundings of the Hermitage Museum

Hebe by Canova (1800–05), in the appropriately neoclassical surroundings of the Hermitage Museum

If Neoclassical painting suffered from a lack of ancient models, Neoclassical sculpture tended to suffer from an excess of them, although examples of actual Greek sculpture of the “classical period” beginning in about 500 BC were then very few; the most highly regarded works were mostly Roman copies. The leading Neoclassical sculptors enjoyed huge reputations in their own day, but are now less regarded, with the exception of Jean-Antoine Houdon, whose work was mainly portraits, very often as busts, which do not sacrifice a strong impression of the sitter’s personality to idealism. His style became more classical as his long career continued, and represents a rather smooth progression from Rococo charm to classical dignity. Unlike some Neoclassical sculptors he did not insist on his sitters wearing Roman dress, or being unclothed. He portrayed most of the great figures of the Enlightenment, and travelled to America to produce a statue of George Washington, as well as busts of Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and other luminaries of the new republic.

Antonio Canova and the Dane Bertel Thorvaldsen were both based in Rome, and as well as portraits produced many ambitious life-size figures and groups; both represented the strongly idealizing tendency in neoclassical sculpture. Canova has a lightness and grace, where Thorvaldsen is more severe; the difference is exemplified in their respective groups of the Three Graces. All these, and Flaxman, were still active in the 1820s, and Romanticism was slow to impact sculpture, where versions of Neoclassicism remained the dominant style for most of the 19th century.

An early neoclassicist in sculpture was the Swede Johan Tobias Sergel,. John Flaxman was also, or mainly, a sculptor, mostly producing severely classical reliefs that are comparable in style to his prints; he also designed and modelled neoclassical ceramics for Josiah Wedgwood for several years. Johann Gottfried Schadow and his son Rudolph, one of the few neoclassical sculptors to die young, were the leading German artists, with Franz Anton Zauner in Austria. The late Baroque Austrian sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt turned to Neoclassicism in mid-career, shortly before he appears to have suffered some kind of mental crisis, after which he retired to the country and devoted himself to the highly distinctive “character heads” of bald figures pulling extreme facial expressions. Like Piranesi’s Carceri, these enjoyed a great revival of interest during the age of psychoanalysis in the early 20th century. The Dutch neoclassical sculptor Mathieu Kessels studied with Thorvaldsen and worked almost exclusively in Rome.

Since prior to the 1830s the United States did not have a sculpture tradition of its own, save in the areas of tombstones, weathervanes and ship figureheads, the European neoclassical manner was adopted there, and it was to hold sway for decades and is exemplified in the sculptures of Horatio Greenough, Hiram Powers, Randolph Rogers and William Henry Rinehart.

Architecture and the decorative arts

Château de Malmaison, 1800, room for the Empress Joséphine, on the cusp between Directoire style and Empire style

Château de Malmaison, 1800, room for the Empress Joséphine, on the cusp between Directoire style and Empire style

There is an anti-Rococo strain that can be detected in some European architecture of the earlier 18th century, most vividly represented in the Palladian architecture of Georgian Britain and Ireland, but also recognizable in a classicizing vein of architecture in Berlin. Neoclassicism first gained influence in England and France, through a generation of French art students trained in Rome and influenced by the writings of Winckelmann, and it was quickly adopted by progressive circles in other countries such as Sweden and Russia. At first, classicizing decor was grafted onto familiar European forms, as in the interiors for Catherine II’s lover Count Orlov, designed by an Italian architect with a team of Italian stuccadori: only the isolated oval medallions like cameos and the bas-relief overdoors hint of neoclassicism; the furnishings are fully Italian Rococo.

A second neoclassic wave, more severe, more studied (through the medium of engravings) and more consciously archaeological, is associated with the height of the Napoleonic Empire. In France, the first phase of neoclassicism was expressed in the “Louis XVI style”, and the second in the styles called “Directoire” or Empire. The Rococo style remained popular in Italy until the Napoleonic regimes brought the new archaeological classicism.

In the decorative arts, neoclassicism is exemplified in Empire furniture made in Paris, London, New York, Berlin; in Biedermeier furniture made in Austria; in Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s museums in Berlin, Sir John Soane’s Bank of England in London and the newly built “capitol” in Washington, DC; and in Wedgwood’s bas reliefs and “black basaltes” vases. The style was international; Scots architect Charles Cameron created palatial Italianate interiors for the German-born Catherine II the Great, in Russian St. Petersburg.

Indoors, neoclassicism made a discovery of the genuine classic interior, inspired by the rediscoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum. These had begun in the late 1740s, but only achieved a wide audience in the 1760s, with the first luxurious volumes of tightly controlled distribution of Le Antichità di Ercolano (The Antiquities of Herculaneum). The antiquities of Herculaneum showed that even the most classicizing interiors of the Baroque, or the most “Roman” rooms of William Kent were based on basilica and temple exterior architecture turned outside in, hence their often bombastic appeatrance to modern eyes: pedimented window frames turned into gilded mirrors, fireplaces topped with temple fronts. The new interiors sought to recreate an authentically Roman and genuinely interior vocabulary.

Techniques employed in the style included flatter, lighter motifs, sculpted in low frieze-like relief or painted in monotones en camaïeu (“like cameos”), isolated medallions or vases or busts or bucrania or other motifs, suspended on swags of laurel or ribbon, with slender arabesques against backgrounds, perhaps, of “Pompeiian red” or pale tints, or stone colors. The style in France was initially a Parisian style, the Goût grec (“Greek style”), not a court style; when Louis XVI acceded to the throne in 1774, Marie Antoinette, his fashion-loving Queen, brought the “Louis XVI” style to court. However there was no real attempt to employ the basic forms of Roman furniture until around the turn of the century, and furniture-makers were more likely to borrow from ancient architecture, just as silversmiths were more likely to take from ancient pottery and stone-carving than metalwork: “Designers and craftsmen … seem to have taken an almost perverse pleasure in transferring motifs from one medium to another”.

From about 1800 a fresh influx of Greek architectural examples, seen through the medium of etchings and engravings, gave a new impetus to neoclassicism, the Greek Revival. At the same time the Empire style was a more grandiose wave of neoclassicism in architecture and the decorative arts. Mainly based on Imperial Roman styles, it originated in, and took its name from, the rule of Napoleon I in the First French Empire, where it was intended to idealize Napoleon’s leadership and the French state. The style corresponds to the more bourgeois Biedermeier style in the German-speaking lands, Federal style in the United States, the Regency style in Britain, and the Napoleonstil in Sweden. According to the art historian Hugh Honour “so far from being, as is sometimes supposed, the culmination of the Neo-classical movement, the Empire marks its rapid decline and transformation back once more into a mere antique revival, drained of all the high-minded ideas and force of conviction that had inspired its masterpieces”.  An earlier phase of the style was called the Adam style in Great Britain and “Louis Seize”, or Louis XVI, in France.

Neoclassicism continued to be a major force in academic art through the 19th century and beyond—a constant antithesis to Romanticism or Gothic revivals— although from the late 19th century on it had often been considered anti-modern, or even reactionary, in influential critical circles. The centres of several European cities, notably St Petersburg and Munich, came to look much like museums of Neoclassical architecture.

Gothic revival architecture (often linked with the Romantic cultural movement), a style originating in the 18th century which grew in popularity throughout the 19th century, contrasted Neoclassicism. Whilst Neoclassicism was characterized by Greek and Roman-influenced styles, geometric lines and order, Gothic revival architecture placed an emphasis on medieval-looking buildings, often made to have a rustic, “romantic”, appearance.

Neoclassicism and fashion

In fashion, Neoclassicism influenced the much greater simplicity of women’s dresses, and the long-lasting fashion for white, from well before the French Revolution, but it was not until after it that thorough-going attempts to imitate ancient styles became fashionable in France, at least for women. Classical costumes had long been worn by fashionable ladies posing “as” some figure from Greek or Roman myth in a portrait (in particular there was a rash of such portraits of the young “model” Emma, Lady Hamilton from the 1780s), but such costumes were only worn for the portrait sitting and masquerade balls until the Revolutionary period, and perhaps, like other exotic styles, as undress at home. But the styles worn in portraits by Juliette Récamier, Joséphine de Beauharnais, Thérésa Tallien and other Parisian trend-setters were for going-out in public as well. Seeing Mme Tallien at the opera, Talleyrand quipped that: “Il n’est pas possible de s’exposer plus somptueusement!” (“One could not be more sumptously undressed”). In 1788, just before the Revolution, the court portraitist Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun had held a “Greek supper” where the ladies wore plain white “greek” tunics. Shorter classical hairstyles, where possible with curls, were less controversial and very widely adopted, and hair was now uncovered even outdoors; except for evening dress bonnets or other coverings had typically been worn even indoors before. Thin Greek-style ribbons or fillets were used to tie or decorate the hair instead.

Madame Raymond de Verninac by Jacques-Louis David, with clothes and chair in Directoire style.

Madame Raymond de Verninac by Jacques-Louis David, with clothes and chair in Directoire style.

Very light and loose dresses, usually white and often with shockingly bare arms, rose sheer from the ankle to just below the bodice, where there was a strongly emphasized thin hem or tie round the body, often in a different colour. The shape is now often known as the Empire silhouette although it predates the First French Empire of Napoleon, but his first Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais was influential in spreading it around Europe. A long rectangular shawl or wrap, very often plain red but with a decorated border in portraits, helped in colder weather, and was apparently laid around the midriff when seated – for which sprawling semi-recumbent postures were favoured. By the start of the 19th century, such styles had spread widely across Europe.

Neoclassical fashion for men was far more problematic, and never really took off other than for hair, where it played an important role in the shorter styles that finally despatched the use of wigs, and then white hair-powder, for younger men. The trouser had been the symbol of the barbarian to the Greeks and Romans, but outside the painter’s or, especially, the sculptor’s studio, few men were prepared to abandon it. Indeed the period saw the triumph of the pure trouser, or pantaloon, over the cullottes or knee-breeches of the Ancien Regime. Even when David designed a new French “national costume” at the request of the government during the height of the Revolutionary enthusiasm for changing everything in 1792, it included fairly tight leggings under a coat that stopped above the knee. A high proportion of well-to-do young men spent much of the key period in military service because of the French Revolutionary Wars, and military uniform, which began to emphasize jackets that were short at the front, giving a full view of tight-fitting trousers, was often worn when not on duty, and influenced cilivian male styles.

James Dawkins and Robert Wood Discovering the Ruins of Palmyra, by Gavin Hamilton (1758)

James Dawkins and Robert Wood Discovering the Ruins of Palmyra, by Gavin Hamilton (1758)

The trouser-problem had been recognised by artists as a barrier to creating contemporary history paintings; like other elements of contemporary dress they were seen as irredeemably ugly and unheroic by many artists and critics. Various strategems were used to avoid depicting them in modern scenes. In James Dawkins and Robert Wood Discovering the Ruins of Palmyra (1758) by Gavin Hamilton, the two gentleman antiquaries are shown in toga-like Arab robes. In Watson and the Shark (1778) by John Singleton Copley, the main figure could plausibly be shown nude, and the composition is such that of the eight other men shown, only one shows a single breeched leg prominently. However the Americans Copley and Benjamin West led the artists who successfully showed that trousers could be used in heroic scenes, with works like West’s The Death of General Wolfe (1770) and Copley’s The Death of Major Peirson, 6 January 1781 (1783), although the trouser was still being carefully avoided in The Raft of the Medusa, completed in 1819.

Classically inspired male hair styles included the Bedford Crop, arguably the precursor of most plain modern male styles, which was invented by the radical politician Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford as a protest against a tax on hair powder; he encouraged his frends to adopt it by betting them they would not. Another influential style (or group of styles) was named by the French after the Roman Emperor Titus, from his busts, with hair short and layered but somewhat piled up on the crown, often with restrained quiffs or locks hanging down; variants are familiar from the hair of both Napoleon and George IV of England. The style was supposed to have been introduced by the actor François-Joseph Talma, who upstaged his wigged co-actors when appearing in productions of works such as Voltaire’s Brutus. In 1799 a Parisian fashion magazine reported that even bald men were adopting Titus wigs, and the style was also worn by women, the Journal de Paris reporting in 1802 that “more than half of elegant women were wearing their hair or wig à la Titus.

Hope you enjoyed the article as much as i did compiling the info and the images! See you next time!

Articles’ Images are in the public domain because their copyright has expired or are displayed here under the “ fair use” copyright law, and are available through WikipediaWikimedia.

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it partially uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 22/01/2014

Paul Gauguin - Tahitian Women on the Beach

History of Modern Art: Post-Impressionism

Hello and welcome to the History of modern art series! Today we’ll take a closer look at the Post Impressionism movement!

Post-Impressionism is the term coined by the British artist and art critic Roger Fry in 1910 to describe the development of French art since Manet. Fry used the term when he organized the 1910 exhibition Manet and the Post-Impressionists.

Post-Impressionists extended Impressionism while rejecting its limitations: they continued using vivid colours, thick application of paint, distinctive brush strokes, and real-life subject matter, but they were more inclined to emphasize geometric forms, to distort form for expressive effect, and to use unnatural or arbitrary colour.

The Post-Impressionists were dissatisfied with the triviality of subject matter and the loss of structure in Impressionist paintings, though they did not agree on the way forward.

Paul Cezanne - Les joueurs de carte

Paul Cezanne – Les joueurs de carte

Georges Seurat and his followers concerned themselves with Pointillism, the systematic use of tiny dots of colour (we’ll examine Pointillism in the upcoming article of the series). Paul Cézanne set out to restore a sense of order and structure to painting, to “make of Impressionism something solid and durable, like the art of the museums”.

He achieved this by reducing objects to their basic shapes while retaining the bright fresh colours of Impressionism. The Impressionist Camille Pissarro experimented with Neo-Impressionist ideas between the mid 1880s and the early 1890s.

Discontented with what he referred to as romantic Impressionism, he investigated Pointillism which he called scientific Impressionism before returning to a purer Impressionism in the last decade of his life.

Vincent van Gogh used colour and vibrant swirling brush strokes to convey his feelings and his state of mind. Although they often exhibited together, Post-Impressionist artists were not in agreement concerning a cohesive movement. Younger painters during the 1890s and early 20th century worked in geographically disparate regions and in various stylistic categories, such as Fauvism and Cubism.

Vincent Willem van Gogh - Cafe Terrace at Night

Vincent Willem van Gogh – Cafe Terrace at Night

Fry later explained: “For purposes of convenience, it was necessary to give these artists a name, and I chose, as being the vaguest and most non-committal, the name of Post-Impressionism. This merely stated their position in time relatively to the Impressionist movement.”

John Rewald, one of the first professional art historians to focus on the birth of early modern art, limited the scope to the years between 1886 and 1892 in his pioneering publication on Post-Impressionism: From Van Gogh to Gauguin (1956): Rewald considered it to continue his History of Impressionism (1946), and pointed out that a “subsequent volume dedicated to the second half of the post-impressionist period”.  Post-Impressionism: From Gauguin to Matisse—was to follow, extending the period covered to other artistic movements derived from Impressionism and confined to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Rewald focused on outstanding early Post-Impressionists active in France: on Van Gogh, Gauguin, Seurat, Redon, and their relations as well as the artistic circles they frequented (or they were in opposition to):

Neo-Impressionism: ridiculed by contemporary art critics as well as artists as Pointillism; Seurat and Signac would have preferred other terms: Divisionism for example.

Cloisonnism: a short-lived term introduced in 1888 by the art critic Édouard Dujardin, was to promote the work of Louis Anquetin, and was later also applied to contemporary works of his friend Émile Bernard

Synthetism: another short-lived term coined in 1889 to distinguish recent works of Gauguin and Bernard from that of more traditional Impressionists exhibiting with them at the Café Volpini.

Pont-Aven School: implying little more than that the artists involved had been working for a while in Pont-Aven or elsewhere in Brittany.

Symbolism: a term highly welcomed by vanguard critics in 1891, when Gauguin dropped Synthetism as soon as he was acclaimed to be the leader of Symbolism in painting.

Furthermore, in his introduction to Post-Impressionism, Rewald opted for a second volume featuring Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri Rousseau “le Douanier”, Les Nabis and Cézanne as well as the Fauves, the young Picasso and Gauguin’s last trip to the South-Sea; it was to expand the period covered at least into the first decade of the 20th century—yet this second volume remained unfinished.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec - Equestrienne

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – Equestrienne

According to the present state of discussion, Post-Impressionism is a term best used within Rewald’s definition in a strictly historical manner, concentrating on French art between 1886 and 1914, and re-considering the altered positions of impressionist painters like Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, and others—as well as all new brands at the turn of the century: from Cloisonnism to Cubism. The declarations of war, in July/August 1914, indicate probably far more than the beginning of a World War—they signal a major break in European cultural history, too.

Henri Rousseau - La zingara addormentata

Henri Rousseau – La zingara addormentata

 

Édouard Vuillard - Le Corsage rayé

Édouard Vuillard – Le Corsage rayé

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec - Der Salon in der Rue des Moulins

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – Der Salon in der Rue des Moulins

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec - La Goulue arrivant au Moulin Rouge

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – La Goulue arrivant au Moulin Rouge

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec - The Bed

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – The Bed

Henri Rousseau - A Carnival Evening

Henri Rousseau – A Carnival Evening

Henri Rousseau - Fight Between a Tiger and a Buffalo

Henri Rousseau – Fight Between a Tiger and a Buffalo

Henri Rousseau - The Football Players

Henri Rousseau – The Football Players

Paul Cezanne - The Overture to Tannhauser

Paul Cezanne – The Overture to Tannhauser

Paul Gauguin -  The Siesta

Paul Gauguin – The Siesta

Paul Gauguin - Tahitian Women on the Beach

Paul Gauguin – Tahitian Women on the Beach

Paul Gauguin - The Swineherd, Brittany

Paul Gauguin – The Swineherd, Brittany

Vincent Willem van Gogh - Kornfeld mit Zypressen

Vincent Willem van Gogh – Kornfeld mit Zypressen

 

In the meantime i’d love to hear what you think of post-impressionism as a movement, and which of the above artists were the more influential in your opinion?

Articles’ Images are either in the public domain because their copyright has expired Or legal to display for non commercial educational purposes, under the Fair Use Copyright Law (and are available through Wikimedia & Wikipedia)

This Articles’ text is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-SA License since it uses material from Wikipedia.

Article publié pour la première fois le 01/12/2012

Piet Mondrian, Composition No. 10, 1939-42, oil on canvas, 80 x 73 cm, private collection.

History of Modern Art: Minimalism

Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts. Minimalism is any design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect.

As a specific movement in the arts it is identified with developments in post–World War II Western Art, most strongly with American visual arts in the 1960s and early 1970s. Prominent artists associated with this movement include Donald Judd, John McCracken, Agnes Martin, Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Anne Truitt, and Frank Stella. It is rooted in the reductive aspects of Modernism, and is often interpreted as a reaction against Abstract expressionism and a bridge to Postminimal art practices.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - The Anatomy Lecture of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp

What is the Dutch Golden Age?

The Dutch Golden Age was a period in Dutch history, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade, science, military, and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. The first half is characterized by the Eighty Years’ War until 1648. The Golden Age went on in peace time during the Dutch Republic until the end of the century.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - The Nightwatch

Rembrandt – The Nightwatch

In 1568, the Seven Provinces that later signed the Union of Utrecht started a rebellion against Philip II of Spain that led to the Eighty Years’ War. Before the Low Countries could be completely reconquered, a war between England and Spain (the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604)) broke out, forcing Spanish troops to halt their advances and leaving them in control of the important trading cities of Bruges and Ghent, but without control of Antwerp, which was then arguably the most important port in the world. After a siege, on August 17, 1585 Antwerp fell, and the division of the Northern and Southern Netherlands (mostly modern Belgium) was defined.

The United Provinces (roughly today’s Netherlands) fought on until the Twelve Years’ Truce, which did not end the hostilities. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which ended the Thirty Years’ War, brought the Dutch Republic formal recognition and independence from the Spanish crown.

Under the terms of surrender of Antwerp in 1585 the Protestant population (if unwilling to reconvert) were given four years to settle their affairs before leaving the city and Habsburg territory. Similar arrangements were made in other places. Protestants were especially well-represented among the skilled craftsmen and rich merchants of the port cities of Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp. More moved to the north between 1585 and 1630 than Catholics moved in the other direction, although there were also many of these. Of those moving north, many settled in Amsterdam, transforming what was a small port into one of the most important ports and commercial centres in the world by 1630.

In addition to the mass migration of natives from the Southern Netherlands, there were also significant influxes of non-native refugees who themselves had previously fled from religious persecution, particularly Sephardi Jews from Portugal and Spain and, later, Huguenots from France. The Pilgrim Fathers also spent time there before going to the “New World.”

Several other factors also contributed to the flowering of trade, industry, the arts and the sciences in the Netherlands during this period. A necessary condition was the supply of cheap energy from windmills and from peat, easily transported by canal to the cities. The invention of the sawmill enabled the construction of a massive fleet of ships for worldwide trading and for defense of the republic’s economic interests by military means.

In 1602 the Dutch East India Company was founded. It was the first-ever multinational corporation, financed by shares that established the first modern stock exchange. This company received a Dutch monopoly on Asian trade and would keep this for two centuries. It became the world’s largest commercial enterprise of the 17th century. Spices were imported in bulk and brought huge profits, due to the efforts and risks involved and seemingly insatiable demand. To finance the growing trade within the region, the Bank of Amsterdam was established in 1609, the precursor to, if not the first true central bank.

These various reasons for the domination of Amsterdam as a trade centre led to a trade monopoly in 1640 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) with Japan through the trading post on Dejima. The former island in the bay of Nagasaki measured 15,000 square metres- from here the Dutch traded between China and Japan and at the same time paid tribute to the Shogun. Until 1854, the Dutch were Japan’s sole window to the western world. The collection of scientific learning introduced from Europe became known in Japan as Rangaku or Dutch Learning. The Dutch became instrumental in transmitting to Japan some knowledge of the industrial and scientific revolution that was occurring in Europe. The Japanese purchased and translated numerous scientific books from the Dutch, obtained from them Western curiosities and manufactures (such as clocks), and received demonstrations of various Western innovations (such as the demonstrations of electric phenomena, and the flight of a hot air balloon in the early 19th century). In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dutch were arguably the most economically wealthy and scientifically advanced of all European nations, which put them in a privileged position to transfer Western knowledge to Japan.

Dutch Golden Age Painting

Although Dutch painting of the Golden Age comes in the general European period of Baroque painting, and often shows many of its characteristics, most lacks the idealization and love of splendor typical of much Baroque work, including that of neighboring Flanders. Most work, including that for which the period is best known, reflects the traditions of detailed realism inherited from Early Netherlandish painting.

Johannes Vermeer - The Milkmaid

Johannes Vermeer – The Milkmaid

A distinctive feature of the period is the proliferation of distinct genres of paintings, with the majority of artists producing the bulk of their work within one of these. The full development of this specialization is seen from the late 1620s, and the period from then until the French invasion of 1672 is the core of Golden Age painting.

Compared to earlier European painting there was a small amount of religious painting. Dutch Calvinism forbade religious painting in churches, and though biblical subjects were acceptable in private homes, relatively few were produced. The other traditional classes of history and portrait painting were present, but the period is more notable for a huge variety of other genres, sub-divided into numerous specialized categories, such as scenes of peasant life, landscapes, townscapes, landscapes with animals, maritime paintings, flower paintings and still lifes of various types. The development of many of these types of painting was decisively influenced by 17th-century Dutch artists.

The widely held theory of the “hierarchy of genres” in painting, whereby some types were regarded as more prestigious than others, led many painters to want to produce history painting. However this was the hardest to sell, as even Rembrandt found. Many were forced to produce portraits or genre scenes, which sold much more easily. In descending order of status the categories in the hierarchy were:

  • History painting, including allegories and popular religious subjects.
  • Portrait painting, including the tronie
  • Genre painting (or scenes of everyday life)
  • Landscape, including seascapes, battlescenes, cityscapes, and ruins.
  • Still life

The Dutch concentrated heavily on the “lower” categories, but by no means rejected the concept of the hierarchy. Most paintings were relatively small – the only common type of really large paintings were group portraits. Painting directly onto walls hardly existed; when a wall-space in a public building needed decorating fitted framed canvas was normally used. For the extra precision possible on a hard surface many painters continued to use wooden panels, some time after the rest of Western Europe had abandoned them; some used copper plates, usually recycling plates from printmaking. In turn the number of surviving Golden Age paintings was reduced by them being overpainted with new works by artists throughout the 18th and 19th century – poor ones were usually cheaper than a new canvas, stretcher and frame.

There was very little Dutch sculpture during the period; it is mostly found in tomb monuments and attached to public buildings, and small sculptures for houses are a noticeable gap, their place taken by silverware and ceramics. Painted delftware tiles were very cheap and common, if rarely of really high quality, but silver, especially in the auricular style, led Europe. With this exception, the best artistic efforts were concentrated on painting and printmaking.

Johannes Vermeer - The Astronomer

Johannes Vermeer – The Astronomer

Foreigners remarked on the enormous quantities of art produced, and the large fairs where many paintings were sold – it has been roughly estimated that over 1.3 million Dutch pictures were painted in the 20 years after 1640 alone. The volume of production meant that prices were fairly low, except for the best known artists; as in most subsequent periods there was a steep price gradient for more fashionable artists. Those without a strong contemporary reputation or fallen out of fashion, including many now considered among the greatest of the period, such as Vermeer, Frans Hals and Rembrandt in his last years, had considerable problems earning a living, and died poor; many artists had other jobs, or abandoned art entirely.

In particular the French invasion of 1672 (the Rampjaar, or “year of disaster”), brought a severe depression to the art market, which never quite returned to earlier heights. The distribution of pictures was very wide: “yea many tymes, blacksmithes, cobblers etts., will have some picture or other by their Forge and in their stalle. Such is the generall Notion, enclination and delight that these Countrie Native have to Painting” reported an English traveller in 1640. There were for virtually the first time many professional art dealers, several also significant artists, like Vermeer and his father, Jan van Goyen and Willem Kalf. Rembrandt’s dealer Hendrick van Uylenburgh and his son Gerrit were among the most important. Landscapes were the easiest uncommissioned works to sell, and their painters were the “common footmen in the Army of Art” according to Samuel van Hoogstraten.

The technical quality of Dutch artists was generally very high, still mostly following the old medieval system of training by apprenticeship with a master; typically workshops were smaller than in Flanders or Italy, with only one or two apprentices at a time, the number often being restricted by guild regulations. The turmoil of the early years of the Republic, with displaced artists from the South moving north and the loss of traditional markets in the court and church, led to a resurgence of artists guilds, often still called the Guild of Saint Luke; in many cases these involved the artists extricating themselves from medieval groupings where they shared a guild with several other trades, such as housepainting.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn - Sampling Officials of the Drapers' Guild

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn – Sampling Officials of the Drapers’ Guild

Several new guilds were established in the period: Amsterdam in 1579, Haarlem in 1590, and Gouda, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Delft between 1609 and 1611. The Leiden authorities distrusted guilds and did not allow one until 1648.
Later in the century it began to become clear to all involved that the old idea of a guild controlling both training and sales no long worked well, and gradually the guilds were replaced with academies, often only concerned with the training of artists. The Hague, with the court, was an early example, where artists split into two groups in 1656 with the founding of the Confrerie Pictura. With the obvious exception of portraits, many more Dutch paintings were done “speculatively” without a specific commission than was then the case in other countries – one of many ways in which the Dutch art market showed the future.

There were many dynasties of artists, and many married the daughters of their masters or other artists. Many artists came from well-off families, who paid fees for their apprenticeships, and they often married into property. Rembrandt and Jan Steen were both enrolled at the University of Leiden for a while. Several cities had distinct styles and specialities by subject, but Amsterdam was the largest artistic centre, because of its great wealth.

Dutch artists were strikingly less concerned about artistic theory than those of many nations, and less given to discussing their art; it appears that there was also much less interest in artistic theory in general intellectual circles and among the wider public than was by then common in Italy.  As nearly all commissions and sales were private, and between bourgeois individuals whose accounts have not been preserved, these are also less well documented than elsewhere. But Dutch art was a source of national pride, and the major biographers are crucial sources of information. These are Karel van Mander (Het Schilderboeck, 1604), who essentially covers the previous century, and Arnold Houbraken (De groote schouburgh der Neder­lantsche konstschilders en schilderessen – “The Great Theatre of Dutch Painters“, 1718–21). Both followed, and indeed exceeded, Vasari in including a great number of short lives of artists – over 500 in Houbraken’s case – and both are considered generally accurate on factual matters. The German artist Joachim von Sandrart (1606–1688) had worked for periods in Holland, and his Deutsche Akademie in the same format covers many Dutch artists he knew. Houbraken’s master, and Rembrandt’s pupil, was Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627–1678), whose Zichtbare wereld and Inleyding tot de Hooge Schoole der Schilderkonst (1678) contain more critical than biographical information, and are among the most important treatises on painting of the period. Like other Dutch works on the theory of art, they expound many commonplaces of Renaissance theory and do not entirely reflect contemporary Dutch art, still often concentrating on history painting.

History Painting

This category comprises not only paintings that depicted historical events of the past, but also paintings that showed biblical, mythological, literary and allegorical scenes. Recent historical events essentially fell out of the category, and were treated in a realist fashion, as the appropriate combination of portraits with marine, townscape or landscape subjects. Large dramatic historical or Biblical scenes were produced less frequently than in other countries, as there was no local market for church art, and few large aristocratic Baroque houses to fill. More than that, the Protestant population of major cities had been exposed to some remarkably hypocritical uses of Mannerist allegory in unsuccessful Habsburg propaganda during the Dutch Revolt, which had produced a strong reaction towards realism and a distrust of grandiose visual rhetoric. History painting was now a “minority art”, although to an extent this was redressed by a relatively keen interest in print versions of history subjects.

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Article publié pour la première fois le 14/01/2014

Hannah-Höch---Cut-with-the-Dada-Kitchen-Knife-through-the-Last-Weimar-Beer-Belly-Cultural-Epoch-in-Germany

History of Modern Art: Dada

Dada was an informal international movement, with participants in Europe and North America. The beginnings of Dada correspond to the outbreak of World War I. For many participants, the movement was a protest against the bourgeois nationalist and colonialist interests, which many Dadaists believed were the root cause of the war, and against the cultural and intellectual conformity—in art and more broadly in society—that corresponded to the war.

Marcel Duchamp - Fountain

Marcel Duchamp – Fountain

Many Dadaists believed that the ‘reason’ and ‘logic’ of bourgeois capitalist society had led people into war.They expressed their rejection of that ideology in artistic expression that appeared to reject logic and embrace chaos and irrationality.For example, George Grosz later recalled that his Dadaist art was intended as a protest “against this world of mutual destruction.”

According to Hans Richter, Dada was not art, it was “anti-art.”Everything for which art stood, Dada represented the opposite.Where art was concerned with traditional aesthetics, Dada ignored aesthetics. If art was to appeal to sensibilities, Dada was intended to offend.

As Hugo Ball expressed it, “For us, art is not an end in itself … but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.”

A reviewer from the American Art News stated at the time that: “Dada philosophy is the sickest, most paralyzing and most destructive thing that has ever originated from the brain of man.

Art historians have described Dada as being, in large part, a “reaction to what many of these artists saw as nothing more than an insane spectacle of collective homicide.”

Years later, Dada artists described the movement as:

a phenomenon bursting forth in the midst of the postwar economic and moral crisis, a savior, a monster, which would lay waste to everything in its path… [It was] a systematic work of destruction and demoralization… In the end it became nothing but an act of sacrilege.

tribal art

Western Painting – Tribal Art, Native Art from the West

Tribal Art is the objects and artifacts made by the tribes in the rural areas, for religious reasons rather than as an example of artistry. Its numerous uses differ from tribe to tribe. They could be used to decorate objects of daily use or can even be used for spiritual ceremonial functions. Very often tribes are isolated from civilisations, with no tradition of literacy. Hence, art is a good way to demonstrate and preserve tribal traditions, mythology, and history. In the Western Art scene, the most widely known Tribal Art categories are from the tribes of the remote areas of Central and South America. While the primary influence on Tribal Art is the geography and the climate of a region, the social and religious needs of a tribe and the availability of resources are also other important factors determining its evolution and proliferation. Because there is no access to technology, the artisans use hand-tools made of materials, like stone, wood, tusks, bones, skin of animals, dyes made from minerals, baskets woven with natural grasses, pottery made of clay, and sand for painting etc. The designs and symbols used represent favourable weather, good crops, successful hunting, illness cures, and other common experiences of the tribe. The images of dream and supernatural visions constitute the most creative works of Tribal Art. Since the tribes are isolated from the outside world, tribal art is unchanging in style. The tribes usually sustain themselves on the internal trade exchanges among the tribes.

Genres of Tribal Art

Inuit – It refers to the culturally similar group, residing in the Arctic region of Canada, Greenland, Russia, and the United States. The art forms here are from ivory & bone sculptures and figurative works on soft stones, such as soapstone & argillite.  The usual subjects are hunting, whaling, and other everyday activities.

Navajo Folk Art – Is the Tribal Art from Bluff town in Utah, US. With considerable exposure to the civilized world, this art form has diverse interesting creations, such as vibrantly painted wooden chicken, cowboy riding buffaloes, dog in business suit, etc. Horsehair, wool, and leather are mainly used. The Navajo pictorial rugs, pottery, and sand paintings are famous all over the world.

Hopi Tribe – resides in the high desert plateaus of North Arizona. Art is inherent in this deeply religious tribe, including hand woven kilts & sashes, baskets & pottery, jewellery, Katsina carvings, and Kachina dolls, & toys for children.

Iroquois Confederacy Homelands – They are in the upstate New York and across the border into Canada. They have a culture rich in tradition and history. Their motifs include   animals, sun, moon, and other natural elements. The various art forms of this tribe include basket weaving, beadwork, pottery, cornhusk artifacts, stonework, woodwork, and metal carving etc.

The uniqueness of each form of Tribal Art stems from the history and culture of the respective tribe. The recognition of tribes by the Federal Government along with the rights granted to the civilized world to interact with tribes had a major impact on Tribal Art and culture, giving way to Contemporary Tribal Art. Tribal artefacts are found in museums and souvenir stores all over the world.

Featured Image: Provided by Author – source captivedecals.com

Article by James Vasanth

James Vasanth writes a blog on Scottsdale Art Auction, about Western Arts, Fine arts and connecting the dots between online and offline.

 

Article publié pour la première fois le 08/03/2013

1937 Cord automobile model 812, designed in 1935 by Gordon M. Buehrig and staff

History of Modern Art: Art Deco

Hi folks, welcome back to our journey in the history of modern art.

Today we’ll be reviewing Art Deco!

Art Deco or Deco, is an influential visual arts design style which first appeared in France during the 1920s, flourished internationally during the 30s and 40s, then waned in the post-World War II era. It is an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. The style is often characterized by rich colors, bold geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation.

U.S. Works Progress Administration poster, John Wagner, artist, ca. 1940

U.S. Works Progress Administration poster, John Wagner, artist, ca. 1940

Deco emerged from the Interwar period when rapid industrialization was transforming culture. One of its major attributes is an embrace of technology. This distinguishes Deco from the organic motifs favored by its predecessor Art Nouveau.

Historian Bevis Hillier defined Art Deco as “an assertively modern style…[that] ran to symmetry rather than asymmetry, and to the rectilinear rather than the curvilinear; it responded to the demands of the machine and of new material…[and] the requirements of mass production.”

During its heyday Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.

The first use of the term Art Deco has been attributed to architect Le Corbusier who penned a series of articles in his journal L’Esprit nouveau under the headline 1925 Expo: Arts Déco. He was referring to the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts).

The term was used more generally in 1966 when a French exhibition celebrating the 1925 event was held under the title Les Années 25: Art Déco/Bauhaus/Stijl/Esprit Nouveau. Here the phrase was used to distinguish French decorative crafts of the Belle Epoque from those of later periods.

Georges Rochegrosse, The Slave and The Lion

What is Orientalism?

Orientalism is a term used by art historians and literary and cultural studies scholars for the imitation or depiction of aspects of Middle Eastern and East Asian cultures (Eastern cultures) by writers, designers and artists from the West. In particular, Orientalist painting, depicting more specifically “the Middle East”, was one of the many specialisms of 19th-century Academic art, and the literatures of European countries took a similar interest in Oriental themes.

Since the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism in 1978, much academic discourse has begun to use the term “Orientalism” to refer to a general patronizing Western attitude towards Middle Eastern, Asian and North African societies. In Said’s analysis, the West essentializes these societies as static and undeveloped—thereby fabricating a view of Oriental culture that can be studied, depicted, and reproduced. Implicit in this fabrication, writes Said, is the idea that Western society is developed, rational, flexible, and superior.

Note: Orientalism paintings contain nudity. If that offends you, don’t read the article!

John Frederick Lewis, The Reception, 1873

John Frederick Lewis, The Reception, 1873

“Orientalism” refers to the Orient or East, in contrast to the Occident or West, and often, as seen by the West. Orient came into English from Middle French orient (the root word is oriēns, L). Oriēns has related meanings: the eastern part of the world, the part of the sky in which the sun rises, the east, the rising sun, daybreak, and dawn. Together with the geographical concepts of different ages, its reference of “eastern part” has changed. For example, when Chaucer wrote “That they conquered many regnes grete / In the orient, with many a fair citee” in Monk’s Tale (1375), the “orient” refers to countries lying immediately to the east of the Mediterranean or Southern Europe; while in Aneurin Bevan’s In Place of Fear (1952) this geographical term had already expanded to East Asia — “the awakening of the Orient under the impact of Western ideas”.

“Orientalism” is widely used in art to refer to the works of the many Western 19th-century artists, who specialized in “Oriental” subjects, often drawing on their travels to Western Asia. Artists as well as scholars were already described as “Orientalists” in the 19th century, especially in France, where the term, with a rather dismissive sense, was largely popularized by the critic Jules-Antoine Castagnary. Such disdain did not prevent the Société des Peintres Orientalistes (“Society of Orientalist Painters”) being founded in 1893, with Jean-Léon Gérôme as honorary president; the word was less often used as a term for artists in 19th century England.

Eugène Delacroix, The Women of Algiers, 1834, the Louvre, Paris

Eugène Delacroix, The Women of Algiers, 1834, the Louvre, Paris

Since the 18th century, Orientalist has been the traditional term for a scholar of Oriental studies; however the use in English of Orientalism to describe the academic subject of “Oriental studies” is rare; the Oxford English Dictionary cites only one such usage, by Lord Byron in 1812. The academic discipline of Oriental studies is now more often called Asian studies.

Design by Léon Cogniet for a ceiling decoration in the Louvre depicting the 1798 Egyptian Expedition

Design by Léon Cogniet for a ceiling decoration in the Louvre depicting the 1798 Egyptian Expedition

In 1978, the Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said published his influential and controversial book, Orientalism, which “would forever redefine” the word; he used the term to describe what he argued was a pervasive Western tradition, both academic and artistic, of prejudiced outsider interpretations of the East, shaped by the attitudes of European imperialism in the 18th and 19th centuries. Said was critical of this scholarly tradition and of some modern scholars, particularly Bernard Lewis. Said’s Orientalism elaborates Antonio Gramsci’s concept of hegemony and Michel Foucault’s theorisation of discourse and relationship between knowledge and power. Said was mainly concerned with literature in the widest sense, especially French literature, and did not cover visual art and Orientalist painting. Others, notably Linda Nochlin, have tried to extend his analysis to art, “with uneven results”. Said’s work became one of the foundational texts of Postcolonialism or Postcolonial studies.

The Moresque style of Renaissance ornament is a European adaptation of the Islamic arabesque that began in the late 15th century and was to be used in some types of work, such as bookbinding, until almost the present day. Early architectural use of motifs lifted from the Indian subcontinent has sometimes been called “Hindoo style”. One of the earliest examples is the façade of Guildhall, London (1788–1789). The style gained momentum in the west with the publication of views of India by William Hodges, and William and Thomas Daniell from about 1795. Examples of “Hindoo” architecture are Sezincote House (c. 1805) in Gloucestershire, built for a nabob returned from Bengal, and the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.

Anonymous Venetian orientalist painting, The Reception of the Ambassadors in Damascus, 1511, the Louvre. The deer with antlers in the foreground is not known ever to have existed in the wild in Syria.

Anonymous Venetian orientalist painting, The Reception of the Ambassadors in Damascus, 1511, the Louvre. The deer with antlers in the foreground is not known ever to have existed in the wild in Syria.

Turquerie, which began as early as the late 15th century, continued until at least the 18th century, and included both the use of “Turkish” styles in the decorative arts, the adoption of Turkish costume at times, and interest in art depicting the Ottoman Empire itself. Venice, the traditional trading partner of the Ottomans, was the earliest centre, with France becoming more prominent in the 18th century.

Chinoiserie is the catch-all term for the fashion for Chinese themes in decoration in Western Europe, beginning in the late 17th century and peaking in waves, especially Rococo Chinoiserie, ca. 1740–1770. From the Renaissance to the 18th century, Western designers attempted to imitate the technical sophistication of Chinese ceramics with only partial success. Early hints of Chinoiserie appeared in the 17th century in nations with active East India companies: England (the British East India Company), Denmark (the Danish East India Company), the Netherlands (the Dutch East India Company) and France (the French East India Company). Tin-glazed pottery made at Delft and other Dutch towns adopted genuine blue-and-white Ming decoration from the early 17th century.

Algerian shops, by Louis Comfort Tiffany

Algerian shops, by Louis Comfort Tiffany

Early ceramic wares made at Meissen and other centers of true porcelain imitated Chinese shapes for dishes, vases and teawares. Pleasure pavilions in “Chinese taste” appeared in the formal parterres of late Baroque and Rococo German palaces, and in tile panels at Aranjuez near Madrid. Thomas Chippendale’s mahogany tea tables and china cabinets, especially, were embellished with fretwork glazing and railings, ca 1753–70. Sober homages to early Xing scholars’ furnishings were also naturalized, as the tang evolved into a mid-Georgian side table and squared slat-back armchairs that suited English gentlemen as well as Chinese scholars. Not every adaptation of Chinese design principles falls within mainstream “chinoiserie.” Chinoiserie media included imitations of lacquer and painted tin (tôle) ware that imitated japanning, early painted wallpapers in sheets, and ceramic figurines and table ornaments. Small pagodas appeared on chimneypieces and full-sized ones in gardens. Kew has a magnificent garden pagoda designed by Sir William Chambers. The Wilhelma (1846) in Stuttgart is an example of Moorish Revival architecture. Leighton House, built for the artist Lord Leighton, has a conventional facade but elaborate Arab-style interiors, including original Islamic tiles and other elements as well as Victorian Orientalizing work.

Frederick Goodall, A New Light in the Harem, 1884

Frederick Goodall, A New Light in the Harem, 1884

After 1860, Japonisme, sparked by the importing of Japanese woodblock prints, became an important influence in the western arts. In particular, many modern French artists such as Monet and Degas were influenced by the Japanese style. Mary Cassatt, an American artist who worked in France, used elements of combined patterns, flat planes and shifting perspective of Japanese prints in her own images. The paintings of James McNeill Whistler and his “Peacock Room” demonstrated how he used aspects of Japanese tradition and are some of the finest works of the genre. California architects Greene and Greene were inspired by Japanese elements in their design of the Gamble House and other buildings.
In architecture, Egyptian revival architecture was popular mostly in the early and mid-19th century, and Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture or Moorish Revival architecture, covering a variety of general Islamic or Indian features, in the later part of the century; “Saracenic” referred to styles from Arabic-speaking areas. Both were sometimes used in the Orient itself by colonial governments.

Orientalist Art

Depictions of Islamic “Moors” and “Turks” (imprecisely named Muslim groups of southern Europe, North Africa and West Asia) can be found in Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art. In Biblical scenes in Early Netherlandish painting, secondary figures, especially Romans, were given exotic costumes that distantly reflected the clothes of the Near East. The Three Magi in Nativity scenes were an especial focus for this. In general art with Biblical settings would not be considered as Orientalist except where contemporary or historicist Middle Eastern detail or settings is a feature of works, as with some paintings by Gentile Bellini and others, and a number of 19th century works.

Sultan Mehmed II, attr. Gentile Bellini, 1480

Sultan Mehmed II, attr. Gentile Bellini, 1480

Renaissance Venice had a phase of particular interest in depictions of the Ottoman Empire in painting and prints. Gentile Bellini, who travelled to Constantinople and painted the Sultan, and Vittore Carpaccio were the leading painters. By then the depictions were more accurate, with men typically dressed all in white. The depiction of Oriental carpets in Renaissance painting sometimes draws from Orientalist interest, but more often just reflects the prestige these expensive objects had in the period.

Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702–1789) visited Istanbul and painted numerous pastels of Turkish domestic scenes; he also continued to wear Turkish dress for much of the time when back in Europe. The ambitious Scottish 18th-century artist Gavin Hamilton found a solution to the problem of using modern dress, considered unheroic and inelegant, in history painting by using Middle Eastern settings with Europeans wearing local costume, as travellers were advised to do. His huge James Dawkins and Robert Wood Discovering the Ruins of Palmyra (1758, now Edinburgh) elevates tourism to the heroic, with the two travellers wearing what look very like togas. Many travellers had themselves painted in exotic Eastern dress on their return, including Lord Byron, as did many who had never left Europe, including Madame de Pompadour. Byron’s poetry was highly influential in introducing Europe to the heady cocktail of Romanticism in exotic Oriental settings which was to dominate 19th century Oriental art.

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