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Futurism | Dada | Surrealism | Abstract Expressionism | Colour Field Painting
Minimalism | Op Art | Pop Art | Photo-Realism | Post-modern Art | Bibliography

 

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After Cubism the new movement of Futurism emerged in Italy. It was led by Italian poet, Filippo Marinetti (1876-1944). In a 1909 manifesto, Marinetti angrily introduced this new movement. He wanted to have new art that strived to represent "violence, energy and boldness," and to be free from the "tyranny of… harmony and good taste." (Fichner: 429). They denounced institutions, and felt they were unimportant to culture. This manifesto was published in French on the front page of the Paris newspaper, Le Figaro on Feb. 20, 1909. In Italy copies were made and sent to leaders throughout the country.

Theories:
In theory, Futurist paintings and sculptures were made to glorify life and the, "unceasingly and violently transformed by victorious science." (Fichner: 429). In many Futurist works an influence of Cubism can be seen.
The most important term in Futurism is dynamism. It is the theory which says that "force or energy is the basic principle of all phenomena." (Fichner: 429)

Umberto Boccioni, a key figure in this movement said:
"Everything moves, everything runs… owing to the persistence of images on the retina, objects in motion are multiplied, distorted, following one another like waves though space." (Fichner: 429)

Characteristics:
Characteristics of Futurism include irregular, agitated lines that communicate the energy of movement. Futurists wanted to illustrate images in perpetual motion, and many key Futurists were sculptors.
There was a period of Russian Futurism as well, which was lead by Kazimir Malevich. This movement lasted from 1912-1915. Malevich referred to it as "Cubo-Futurism."

Key Artist : : Giacomo Balla
Giacomo Balla is a Futurist painter, and he felt that subjects were less important than the "dynamic sensation" that they portrayed and emitted.

Street Lamp 1909 is a painting that expresses the excitement and dynamism of light and movement. The light of the lamp penetrates through the dark of the night. Balla uses V-shaped brushstrokes to show the perpetual movement of light.

On March 11, 1915, Balla and Fortunato Depero issued a manifesto called, "Furturist Reconstruction of the Universe". In this piece they claimed that "gesture is no longer a fixed moment, but shall be a dynamic sensation." (Baritt: 180) Futurists wanted to depict the world not as it was, but how it was experienced.

Dynamism of energy:
In Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash 1912, the image is based on the study of multiple exposure. With the advent of the camera people were able to see the stages of movement that the normal eye does not notice. In Girl Runing on a Balcony 1912, Balla uses a mosaic style, by breaking up the image and repeating the representation of the subject. By doing so, we see the girl in the blurred stages of her movement.

Energy was an important subject for these artists, and they wanted to express the constant and transcendent energy that blurs in an image that is representational of movement. Futurists never tried to define motion, instead they showed the consequences of it. The sculptures often avoided straight representation of their subjects. But, even though Futurist work is very abstract, there is always an element of representation in them.

 

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Dadaism is a short-lived art movement that began in 1916 and ended in 1922. It was an international movement that declared itself against art. Dadaism was responding to the absurdity of war, and was attacking the established bourgeois rationality and morality that allowed it to happen. Dadaism was manifested through frustration, and anger at the world. "The bourgeois regarded the Dadaist as the dissolute monster, a revolutionary villain… (that) thought up tricks to rob the bourgeois of his sleep," says Hans Arp (Britt: 203) Dadaists created art that reflected the pathetic state of the world. They regarded art as ridiculous and irrelevant, and therefore must be destroyed. Dadaism turned to the absurd, primitive and elementary. But in order to convey their ideas against art they created art themselves. Dadaism lived in a state of constant irony. This contradiction predicted it's ultimate downfall.

The meaning of Dadaism:
Dadaism had major centres in Zurich, Paris, Berlin, Cologne and New York City. The word Dada is supposedly a randomly chosen word from a dictionary. It is a nonsense term that best describes this movement, which strived for meaningless, absurdity and unpredictability. The translation of Dada in French is "hobbyhorse". There is debate about whether the term is actually randomly chosen, but the element of chance is definitely important in Dadaism. Dada poetry consisted of a nonsense combination of random words. Also, Dada collages often were constructed with objects found by chance. However meaningless that the artists wanted their works to come across, they were not interpreted as meaningless at all. The early twentieth century was dominated by theories in psychoanalysis, so if this art was speaking of something at all it was definitely saying something about the artist.

Dadaists of course were nihilistic is nature. They declared that their purpose was to make clear to the public that all established values have been made meaningless due to the horrors of the war. Obviously, if the world was allowing war something was wrong with the morality and rationality that it houses. And if this is the accepted rationality of the world there would be no way for people to create new intellect and forms of protest.

Dadaism's demise:
Due to debates, and increasing animosity between the different centres, Dadaism collapsed in 1922. Though, Dadaism was not completely negative. There was an encouragement of freeing the world of conventional views in order to create new forms of rationality and morality that was different from the established, and accepted bourgeois mentality. With the increasing interest in psychoanalysis and experiments in juxtaposition, Dadaism provided the basis for Surrealism in the early 1920s.

Key Artist : : Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp is the key figure of Dadaism. He was born in 1887 in France. In Paris he studied at the Academie Julian until 1905. Dadaism explored the ideas of the context of an object. And with this idea of context they attempted to negate, insult and ridicule art. Dadaism preached nonsense and anti-art. His Mona Lisa (L.H.O.O.Q.) 1919, was the most direct slander at the nature of art. In this painting he appropriated Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, and painted a moustache and goatee on it.

Ready-mades:
One main concept in Dadaism was to turn the utilitarian into the aesthetic. Marcel Duchamp's ready-mades are a prime example of this. Duchamp would take every-day objects, sign them, and place them in a gallery in order to call it art. His trademark pieces include Fountain 1917, and Bicycle Wheel 1913. By doing this he created some of the most debated issues in Dadaism. Ready-mades often created two debates. The first was did this gesture simple elevate the ordinary into a work of art, or did it just reduce all objects, everyday and high art, to the same level.

Resisting aesthetics:
Marcel Duchamp's work, which is often the basis of all Dada studies, raises complex issues about the nature of art and anti-art. Today there is no doubt that his ready-mades are regarded as high art. But at the time he claims that his purpose was not to turn the everyday into art. In fact, he found it difficult to find the right object for his work, because his purpose of displaying objects in this manner was to create a reaction of indifference in the viewer. But, he found that viewers couldn't resist the look of the object, and it became an aesthetic emotion that viewers had when regarding a piece. Duchamp wanted his pieces to have an absence of good or bad taste, therefore reiterating the bad effects of an accepted bourgeois morality by trying to create a new mentality. He died in 1968 in France.


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At the end of World War I, a new art movement emerged from a literary movement. Surrealism is based on writings and manifestos of the "non-rational". It is natural that these new Surrealists were influenced by Dadaists. Both these groups began with literature, and they focused on the practice of automatic writing. This is a type of writing that allows the writer to be free from any purposeful thought, and explores the subconscious when it is free of associations. People would write down whatever came into their heads and didn't consider the rational or relationship of the different elements at the time. The words didn't denote meaning, but rather they symbolized the activities of the unconscious mind.

The Surrealist manifesto:
Surrealist writers left Dadaism, because they felt it was too academic. The leader of the Surrealist movement was Andre Breton. He wrote the Surrealist Manifesto in 1924, which inspired many.

Breton outlines some of the basic principle of Surrealism by saying:
"Pure psychic automatism by which it is intended to express either verbally or in writing, the true function of thought. Thought dictated in the absence of all control, exerted by reason…"
(Fichner: 437)

Types of Surrealism:
There are two types of Surrealism.
1. Illusionistic Surrealism: These works of art are composed of irrational content, absurd juxtapositions and metamorphoses of dreams into a higher illusionary state. Salvador Dali, Yves Tanguy and Rene Magritte were Illusionists.
2. Automatist Surrealism: this is directly derived from automatic writing. These pieces express the subconscious through abstraction. These works are created free from conscious associations. Automatists include Joan Miro and Andre Masson.
In the 1930s, Adolph Hitler rose to power and threatened war onto Europe again. Many leading figures in art field fled to the United States, and overnight New York became the new center of the art world..

Key Artist : : Salvador Dali
Salvador Dali (1904-1986) was the celebrity of the Surrealist movement. He is originally from Spain, and led an unusual and somewhat surreal life. His life sometimes preceded his art. He will always be known for his trademark moustache, arrogant behaviour and illusionistic imagery.

Before Surrealism:
Dali began his painting career adapting to the techniques of Impressionism, Pointillism and Futurism. He studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Madrid, where he began Illusionistic realism, and in his life he never stopped exploring this subject.

He joined the Surealist movement in 1928. His paintings provoke questions about the possible realism in dreams, so symbolic imagery is very important in his pieces. Some of his work refers to a sexual symbolism, as many other Surrealist work do as well. Dali's paintings focus great importance on the ideas of association between objects, coincidences and, of course, dreams.

The Persistence of Memory:
The Persistence of Memory 1931 is his signature piece. It is a painting of a barren landscape, where everything including time has expired. The main subjects are melting watches, which are covered with insects. There is a strange figure in the middle of the piece, which looks like half of a person's face. This face is said to resemble Dali. This piece conveys the images of a strange dream, and Dali uses odd juxtapositions to create a new meaning. But even though this piece looks like a dream there is a haunting reality lurking in it.

The uncontrollable subconscious:
Surrealists borrowed many concepts from psychoanalysis. And they believed that the unconscious held universal imagery. And through translating their dreams and subconscious, and though the process of automatic writing they would be able to unleash these images. But even though they tried to have free thoughts and expressions, a certain amount of control is unavoidable.

 

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Abstract Expression is the term used to describe the movement that prevailed for a decade after World War II. This was the first major movement that came out of New York, the new capital of the art world. This movement and had a powerful impact on European art.

In the time of post-war America, artists wanted to find a new way to express themselves that was free of representation. Characteristics of Abstract Expressionism include the spontaneous execution of painting, large gestural brush strokes, abstract imagery, and the idea of exploring the physical qualities of paint itself.

Translation of subconscious:
Though Abstract Expressionism and Automatist Surrealism have no aesthetic resemblance to each other, they both had in common the fact that they wanted to translate the subconscious onto canvas. Often Abstract Expressionism is seen as heroic and self-indulgent.

Paint properties:
Artists of this movement believed that paint was not just a passive element that can be manipulated, but that paint stored an intense energy that needed to be released. Also, they felt that the dynamic of painting not only depended on the type of paint that was being used but also the gestures of the body, at what speed and impact the paint was being applied, and its interaction with other paints on the canvas.

By exploring these methods the surfaces of these paintings came alive, but the artist is of course the ultimate source of energy. So, it was the act of painting that was important. Often these artists would use huge canvases that would allow them to paint with their bodies, not just their hands. Artists such as Jackson Pollock abandoned the idea of the brush stroke. Artist William De Kooning never gave up the brush, but he still had a passion for the process of painting.
Clement Greenberg, a critic from New York, preferred the term "painterly abstraction" instead of Abstract Expressionism because of the movement's lack of representation, and the loose use of the brush.

Key Artist : : Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock is one of the best-known Abstract Expressionists. He was born in Cody, Wyoming, in 1912, but in 1930 moved to New York to study under Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League. His focus was on the gesture. Pollock's work can also be classified as "drip painting" or "action painting". He worked in the late 1940s-50s and many people are familiar with videos and photographs of him dripping paint onto large canvases. He made many innovations in the movement that influenced others.

Action painting:
The term "action painting" was created by art critic Harold Rosenberg in 1951. It is used to describe paintings whose surfaces imply a sense of activity, and was created by brushing, dripping or splattering paint quickly and impulsively.
Pollock would walk across the surface of a canvas, and he dripped paint in accordance to his impulses and unconscious thoughts. The element of accident is an important composition in his paintings. His work is non-representational, as it doesn't have clear subject matter, just paint itself and the focus on depth, texture, energy and process.
His work is barely contained in his massive canvases. The surfaces of his pieces are unified and un-sectioned. His technique of overlapping paint creates a dynamic "web" that creates infinite depth.

Pollock and Psychoanalysis:
Pollock was in psychoanalysis at the time of his paintings, and he believed in the unconscious, accidents and spontaneity when creating art.

He had his first solo show at The Art of This Century Gallery in New York, in 1943. Two years later he married Lee Krasner, and lived in East Hampton, New York. Even though his work has been exhibited around the world, Pollock never travelled outside the United States. He died tragically in a car accident in 1956.

 

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Colour field painting is the next dimension in Abstract Expressionism. For some artists the focus on colour was more important than the act of a gesture. Colour field painters used convases that were massive in order to envelop the viewer with colour, and to emphasize the subtleties and vivaciousness of them:
"To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside of your experience… paint the larger picture, you are in it. It isn't something you command. (The painting) is no longer object in environment, it is environment itself." Mark Rothko (Baritt: 269)

Evoking emotions:
Within one artist's body of work the images were often very similar, especially in the case of Mark Rothko. But, due to differences in the palette used, each piece was its own entity and evokes a different emotion.

Many colour field painting is described as having a "contemplative" stillness or intensity. These painters respected the integrity of the canvas and field, so there is often no center of action or attention. And, the shapes they use reaffirm and repeats the field and the colour used. This type of painting creates a cloudy depth and unique atmosphere.

This movement of simple non-representation, and focus on the perpetual presence that the piece appeared to have influenced Minimalism.

Key Artist : : Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko (1903-1970) was born Marcus Rothkowitz in Russia. He immigrated to the United States at age ten. During 1921-23 he attended Yale University on a scholarship. He left Yale without obtaining a degree to move to New York. He then studied at the Art Students League under Max Weber.

Rothko had his first solo show in New York at the Contemporary Art Gallery in 1933. In 1935 he founded the group "Ten". This was a group of artists whose work was influenced by abstraction and Expressionism. In 1947 and 1949 he taught at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Rothko also founded the Subjects of the Artist School in New York in 1948.

Developing a style:
He began painting figures in urban settings in the 1930s and experimented with surrealistic imagery in the early 1940s. But it wasn't until he began his colour field paintings that gave him his fame. He is renowned for paintings that consist of, "large, floating, hazy edged colour fields" (Fichner: 447).
In the 1950s his work constantly displayed rectangles floating above one another. These rectangles interacted with the background colour. The large scale of them absorbs the viewer in colour.

Colours dictate mood:
Early in his career he painted with pale rich colours, but in the 1960s his work became more muted. Often his hues would be mixed with blacks and greys. This may be caused by the turmoil he was having in his personal life.
Rothko suffered through depression during the last years of his life. And in 1968 he was diagnosed with heart disease. His second marriage ended a year after that. He eventually committed suicide in the winter of 1970.

 

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Minimal art or Minimalism began in the 1960s. It was a movement that was inspired by Abstract Expressionism, colour field painting, and mathematics. It attempted to purify images and the painting process in order to reflect intellectual theories and mathematical systems. Minimalists reduced objects to their basic geometric shapes, and searched for the essence of an object. They wanted to evoke an emotion and aesthetic pleasure from their work.

Characteristics of Minimalism:
Characteristics of Minimalism include, "precise, hard-edged, unitary geometric forms; rigid planes of colour-usually cool hues or commercially mixed colours, or sometimes just a single colour; non-hierarchical, mathematically regular compositions, often based on a grid; the reduction to pure self-referential form, emptied of all external references; and an anonymous surface appearance, without any gestural inflection." (Guggenheim Collection Web Site)

Minimalism has also been referred to as, "ABC art, cool art, imageless pop, literist art, object art, and primary structure art." (Guggenheim Collection Web Site). It rejects the heroics of Abstract Expressionism, and bases its success on the viewer's relationship with the piece. Though the public often did not understand Minimal art. And, due to the fact that it stressed simplicity of form, and clarity of idea there was sometimes an emptiness that prevailed in the pieces. Though some found Minimalist art extremely transcendent, because it is so simple and free of subject matter.

Simplicity and precision:
Often these pieces consisted of large simple canvases, were painted with one colour, and with minimal detail. There was a concentration on grids and simplicity. There were also Minimalist sculptors who focused on the precise construction of their simple pieces. Minimalism lasted longer than expected, and the intellectual theories behind it strengthened as it developed.

Key Artist : : Donald Judd
Donald Judd was born in 1928 in Missouri. He attended the Arts Student League in New York in 1948, but later transferred to the College of William and Mary, Virginia. In 1949 he went back to New York to study philosophy at Columbia University, and at the same time he returned to the Arts Student League to take art courses.

Judd had his first solo exhibit in 1957 at the Green Gallery, New York. During 1962-64 he taught at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Science. In 1984 he began designing furniture. In 1992 he was elected as a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm.

Industrial materials:
He is famous for his use of industrial materials that were in a readily available form. He was concerned with the properties and characteristics of his installations, and used materials such as plywood, iron, stainless steel, aluminium and plexi-glass for his pieces. Judd disliked being called a sculptor because, to him, it implied carving.

Minimalism rejected illusionism, and wanted the viewer to focus on what work of art was presently in front of them now, the characteristics of the object, and how they occupied that space:
"I don't know what happened to the pragmatic, empirical attitude of paying attention to what is here and now; it is basic to science, it should be basic to art too." Donald Judd (Modern Art Web Site)

Installation process:
The importance in his work lay in the precise arrangement and construction of them. The proportion and spacing of his pieces were very important, as well as repetition. Though Judd often had to rely on assistants to help him execute concepts for his huge installations. This act was as impersonal as the materials he used.

Through his career he promoted Minimal Art, and defended it when critics said it lacked intellectual thought and had no meaning. Two volumes of his essays were pubished in 1975 and 1987. Judd died in 1994, in New York.

 

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Optical Art or Op Art is a movement where artist would try to create an optical illusion with their paintings. Op artists were concerned with the process of how we see. They felt that we took for granted how we use our eyes, and how we perceive the world. Op Artists felt that we should be more aware of this important sense. They knew that our eyes often deceive us, and concentrated on how to exercise this phenomenon.

How Op works:
Op Artists would manipulate our eyes by repeating and/or distorting patterns with lines, colours, and shapes to produce visual illusions. By doing this they were experimenting with three dimensionality on a two dimensional space. This work was always non-representational.

Element of disorientation:
The effects that they created are meant to be disorienting. Sometimes these pieces would give a sense of movement, because of their use of receding shapes and lines, through colour. They had to understand how the foreground interacted with the background to be successful in their effect. Due to these techniques Op Art was a more scientific movement, and some critics believe that it never lived up and developed to its full potential of unlimited possibilities.

Op Art is concerned with the act of perception, and needed an active response from the viewer. Op Art is sometimes seen as a branch of Kinetic Art, as both are concerned with movement and the energy created within a piece.

Key Artist : : Bridget Riley
Bridget Riley was one of the important figures in Op Art in the 1960s. She was born in 1931, in London, England. During the war she lived in a little cottage in Cornwall. In 1952 she went to the Royal College of Art, where she was faced with confusion and frustration, due to an out-dated faculty, and her own feeling of displacement in arts.

She didn't develop much in college, because she didn't know what type of a painter she wanted to be, though she knew she wanted to be one. Riley had a nervous breakdown in the late 1950s due to family tragedies and her frustration with art, but later found a job working at the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson in London.

Riley's inspiration:
She was about to give up painting entirely, but then attended a Jackson Pollock exhibit in 1958 in London. Here she realized that modern art was alive, and this influenced her to pursue painting again:
"I decided to paint one last painting, entirely black. But even then there was a small voice still in me, which looked at the painting and said: 'This doesn't express anything. What's wrong?' It had no contrast. So I put in white… It seemed good. And I told myself, 'O.K., just one more painting.' I was off."
Bridget Riley (New York Times Web Site)

The Black and white:
Riley's career began in 1961 with a series of slick black and white paintings. Later she began to work with colour after she travelled to Egypt, and was impressed with how Egyptian art only used a few colours, but was still very powerful. Her paintings consist of mesmerizing patterns and colours. Often she would use thick repetitive lines, but later worked with waves of patterns.

Patterns and rhythms:
Riley relates her paintings to music, due to the patterns and rhythms that are prominent in both. Most of her paintings are not entirely painted by her. She has always had assistants paint them, based on her drawings. She sometimes worked with coloured paper pasted on grids. She says that she uses assistants not in order for her work to be mechanical, but so it would be perfect. She wants the result of her pieces to be how she originally envisions them.

In 1968, she was awarded the painting prize at the Venice Biennale. She was the first woman to accomplish this. Riley's work gave the English art scene a startle, because they had not seen this type of bold abstraction before.

 

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Pop Art is a movement that is described as one of the most, "enticing, surprising, controversial and exasperating." (Ficher: 451) It was a reaction against the seriousness of Abstract Expressionism. They felt that non-objectivity had been exhausted, and began to work with familiar icons of the everyday. It became both an art movement and a lifestyle trend. The word "pop" was created by English critic Lawrence Alloway in 1954, and it refers to the universal images that mass media evokes, such as movie posters, advertisements, billboards, magazine photos, etc.

Questioning the nature of art:
Pop Art uses subject matter that is commonplace and familiar, and it challenges the conceptions about high art, commodity culture, and the upper class. This movement is the first one that brought together high and popular culture, by using icons of popular culture and putting it into the context of the high culture of art. Work from this movement was often colourful and bold. Pop Art questioned art by saying it can be mass-produced. Though, now the "aura" of the work of art comes into questionable.

Pop Art consists of intertextual references:
"Intertextual references are emblematic of the hyperconscious of postmodern popular culture: a hyperawareness on the part of the text itself of its cultural status, function, history, as well as of the conditions of its circulation and reception." (Marris: 380)

Depicting mass culture:
Therefore, in order to better understand the work you must understand the how the icons or objects are normally viewed in everyday life. And these references in art are good indication of how mass culture perceives specific subjects and attitudes.

This movement depicts the mundane, the mass-produced and the familiar. They used objects bluntly in order to create a representation of middle America. These artists used commercial culture as their subject matter, but they didn't necessarily believe that it was evil or should be changed. Even though Pop Art was highly developed in America and used American icons, this movement originated in England in the 1950s. Richard Hamilton (b. 1922) is one of the originators of Pop Art. He was influenced by Marcel Duchamp's idea that we should question the meaning and function of art.

Mixture of mediums:
Pop Artists found different mediums to best express their views. Andy Warhol found fame with the silk-screening process, Robert Rauschenberg combined painting with found objects, Jasper Johns painted as well, but played with the meaning of icons and familiar objects, and Roy Lichtenstein painted comic strip images that were made up of dots and black outlines.

Key Artist : : Andy Warhol
Born Andrew Warhola in 1928, Pittsburgh, Andy Warhol's name is larger than his art. He epitomizes Pop Art. His famous quote is, "Everybody has their fifteen minutes of fame." Warhol's silk-screens of famous figures made him a notified artist, but it was his persona and lifestyle that made him a star. He was always seen around New York with his white wig, and black glasses. His work both criticizes and celebrates commodity culture, and corporate representations.

Warhol received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. He moved to New York in 1949, the same year as his graduation. He began his career in New York by drawing I. Miller shoes for magazines.
The celebration of icons

He often chose banal subject matter for his work. One of his trademark pieces is "Campbell Soup Cans". With the process of silk-screening he printed row after row of Campbell soup cans, so the viewer is faced with a multitude of this corporate logo. He did the same thing with Coco-cola bottles. By repeating these icons he is giving a statement about commercialization, and the melting pot of a commodity culture that represents middle-class America.

His portrait silk-screens include images of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Mao Tse-Tung, Elizabeth Taylor and Liza Minelli. He never shyed away from the controversial, and in the 1960s he reproduced multiple photographs of disasters that he saw in newspapers. He also made underground films that strived for repetition and boredom.

Mass-produced art:
He created the first mass-produced art (that wasn't photography) that was still considered fine art. He had many assistants that helped him with his silk screens, and his "Brillo Boxes" in the infamous "Factory" which was his studio in New York. And often he hardly touched any of these pieces. Even though silk-screening can be seen as detached and impersonal, due to his unique aesthetic his prints are undeniably have his touch. Warhol died in 1987.

 

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Photo-Realism, Superrealism or the New Realism are terms used to describe the movement where artists rendered subjects with sharp and precise photographic precision. Often these artists used a photograph as their starting point, and would project it onto a huge canvas. And then break up the canvas into squares, therefore each grid would be painstakingly painted in order to produce this realism. Often they would use an airbrush to achieve their effect.

Hyper-real paintings:
Theorist's Jean Baudrillard would claim that this type of painting is hyper-real because it is based on something that is not real at all, but a simulation of reality:
"The definition of the real has become: that of which it is possible to give an equivalent reproduction… The real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is always already reproduced: That is, the hyperreal… which is entirely in simulation." (Baudrillard: 146-7)

The camera vs. the eye:
Photorealists worked in this manner not just to show-off their technical ability, but they were concerned with how the eye captures an image, as compared to how a camera captures an image.

Though Photorealism was short-lived due to its lack of subjective debate. Photorealism began in the early 1970s, and owes much to Pop art to their unapologetic objective depiction of the subject and culture. Again this is another movement that is a reaction towards the non-representation of Abstract Expressionism.

Key Artist : : Chuck Close
Chuck Close graduated from the University of Washington in 1962. He also attended Yale University. Though he was diagnosed as dyslexic, and people discouraged him from academics, now he is celebrity in the art world. In ARTNews Magazine he is listed as one of the 50 most influential people in art.

Close is best known for his massive portraits of heads and extreme precision. These images are often imposing, and resemble something that is beyond reality. Close often chooses friends and family for his subjects. He has painted portraits of Cindy Sherman, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg with his technique.
Systematics of photorealism

Big Self-Portrait 1968 is one of Close's famous paintings. This piece took four months to finish. His working methodology is that he would take many photographs of himself, then choose one to project. He then made two copies of this photograph. One was used as the projection source, and the other he would draw a grid over it, and number the squares accordingly. Photorealism is a very systematic process.

Close was interested in how a photograph precisely captures detail, but also wanted to study the camera and how it captures some elements as in focus and others out of focus. This was important in creating a superreal image as well.

Tragedy and new beginnings:
In 1988, Close was faced by a tragedy. A blood clot was found in his spinal cord and left him a quadriplegic (a paralysis of both arms and both legs). But he did not let this downfall ruin his painting career. He created a new way of painting by having assistants draw out grids on canvases, and then he would use his mouth to hold the brush. He would paint within the little grids to create a unified painting when viewed in its entirety.

 

< P o s t - m o d e r n A r t > top
Post-modern art is as diverse as the term Post-modernism itself. Jean Francois Lyotard defined Post-modernism as, "the incredulity towards meta-narratives." (Barry: 86), instead mini-narratives prevail. These mini-narratives are dictated by a distinct voice that is specific to a group, class, time, place, etc. These voices are personal and often temporal. Characteristics of Post-modernism include, the "overly familiar and mass-produced; …eclecticism, … cultural specificity, and re-articulation." (Marris: 376). Post-modern art is socially relevant, and does not just dictate one attitude, but encompasses many mediums.

Appropriation:
Key figures in Post-modern art include Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, and Sherry Levine. Appropriation, the act of "borrowing" or taking images/references from another source, is a big issue in Post-modern art. Barbara Kruger creates huge images that are indicative of advertising to comment on how we react towards corporate influence. Kruger has been criticized for appropriating photographs from old advertising, but in order to clearly give her message she must use this working methodology.

The question of originality:
Sherry Levine uses appropriation as the main source of discussion for her work. She re-photographs famous photos to question the idea of originality. In 1981, Levine re-photographed original Edward Weston photographs of his son Neil. She printed "her" photographs, and this raised issues about whether they were her images or not. Clearly she took the photograph, and printed them herself, so they are her interpretation of the photographs, but they are not her images. Levine never denies that she doesn't appropriate images. This also raises issues concerning the process of photography.

Key Artist : : Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman was born in 1954 in New Jersey. She came to the New York art scene in the early 1980s, and was a part of a new group of artists that wanted to depict the representations of our "media-saturated" world. Sherman graduated from the State University College, Buffalo in 1976 where she received a Bachelor degree in Photography.

Untitled Film Stills:
Cindy Sherman caused an uproar in photography through her portraits. She always uses herself as the subject, but her images are not "self-portraits" by any means. She began her prominent career at age 23 by creating black and white film stills of herself entitled Untitled Film Stills in 1977. She photographed a blonde woman in different clichéd situations indicative of B-movies to represent how women were depicted in film culture. These images were subtle, successful and established her reputation in the art world.

Moving towards the grotesque:
She was always labelled as an artist that always depicted the female representation. Later in her career she began to explore the idea of the grotesque of the body, mechanical images and material disintegratation. From her simple stills she evolved to having elaborate fantasy set-ups complete with costume and make-up artists. Her exhibits have become strongly controversial due to their disturbing imagery. One of her recent exhibits was sponsored by Madonna. Perhaps it is her commercial success that has caused her to create work that was more "unsaleable".

Exploration of others using self:
Sherman never looks the same in two series of images, and her friends claim that none of the portraits actually resemble her. Sherman has appropriated images from film, magazines, fashion, portraiture and sex. She directed her first feature horror film, Office Killer, which was released in 1997. Sherman is one of the few woman fine art photographers that has risen to celebrity and critical success.




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Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory. Manchester University Press: Manchester, 1995.
Baudrillard, Jean. Simulations. Semiotext(e): New York, 1983.
Benjamin, Walter. Illuminations. Harcourt, Brace, and World, Inc: New York, 1968.
Britt, David. Modern Art: Impressionism to Post-Modernism. Thames and Hudson Ltd: London, 1989.
Fichner-Rathus, Lois. Understanding Art. Prentice-Hall Inc: New Jersey, 1995.
Jansen, H.W. History of Art. Harry N. Abrams Inc: New York, 1979.
Lyotard, Jean-Francois. The Post-Modern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, 1984.
Marris, Paul and Thornham, Sue. Media Studies: A Reader. New York University Press: New York, 2000.
Wells, Liz. Photography: A Critical Introduction. Routledge: London, 1997.

Internet Resources
Art Talk - http://loh.loswego.k12.or.us
Artsconnected - http://www.artsconnected.com
Guggenheim Collection - http://www.guggenheimcollection.org
Modern Art - http://www.modern-art.ch
Museum of Modern Art - http://www.moma.org
New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com
Salon.com - http://www.salon.com

 

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