André Breton – Egg in the church or The Snake
Salvador Dali – The Persistence of Memory
René Magritte – Time Transfixed, 1938
Dorothea Tanning – Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, 1943
Tommy Ingberg – Future
Umberto Boccioni (Italian, 1882-1916)
The City Rises, 1910
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 6′ 6 1/2″ x 9′ 10 1/2″ (199.3 x 301 cm)
The most important Italian avant-garde art movement of the 20th century, Futurism celebrated advanced technology and urban modernity. Committed to the new, its members wished to destroy older forms of culture and to demonstrate the beauty of modern life – the beauty of the machine, speed, violence and change. Although the movement did foster some architecture, most of its adherents were artists who worked in traditional media such as painting and sculpture, and in an eclectic range of styles inspired by Post-Impressionism. Nevertheless, they were interested in embracing popular media and new technologies to communicate their ideas. Their enthusiasm for modernity and the machine ultimately led them to celebrate the arrival of the First World War. By its end the group was largely spent as an important avant-garde, though it continued through the 1920s, and, during that time several of its members went on to embrace Fascism, making Futurism the only twentieth century avant-garde to have embraced far right politics.
• The Futurists were fascinated by the problems of representing modern experience, and strived to have their paintings evoke all kinds of sensations – and not merely those visible to the eye. At its best, Futurist art brings to mind the noise, heat and even the smell of the metropolis.
• Unlike many other modern art movements, such as Impressionism and Pointillism, Futurism was not immediately identified with a distinctive style. Instead its adherents worked in an eclectic manner, borrowing from various aspects of Post-Impressionism, including Symbolism and Divisionism. It was not until 1911 that a distinctive Futurist style emerged, and then it was a product of Cubist influence.
• The Futurists were fascinated by new visual technology, in particular chrono-photography, a predecessor of animation and cinema that allowed the movement of an object to be shown across a sequence of frames. This technology was an important influence on their approach to showing movement in painting, encouraging an abstract art with rhythmic, pulsating qualities.
Giacomo Balla (Italian, 1871-1958)
Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash, 1912
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 37.6 in × 45.5 in (95.6 cm × 115.6 cm)
Futurism began its transformation of Italian culture on February 20th, 1909, with the publication of the Futurist Manifesto, authored by writer Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.
It appeared on the front page of Le Figaro, which was then the largest circulation newspaper in France, and the stunt signaled the movement’s desire to employ modern, popular means of communication to spread its ideas. The group would issue more manifestos as the years passed, but this summed up their spirit, celebrating the “machine age”, the triumph of technology over nature, and opposing earlier artistic traditions. Marinetti’s ideas drew the support of artists Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini, and Carlo Carrà, who believed that they could be translated into a modern, figurative art which explored properties of space and movement. The movement initially centered in Milan, but it spread quickly to Turin and Naples, and over subsequent years Marinetti vigorously promoted it abroad.
Natalia Goncharova (Russian, 1881-1962)
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 31″ x 42″ (78 x 105 cm)
Concepts and Styles
The Italian group was slow to develop a distinct style. In the years prior to the emergence of the movement, its members had worked in an eclectic range of styles inspired by Post-Impressionism, and they continued to do so. Severini was typical in his interest in Divisionism, which involved breaking down light and color into a series of stippled dots and stripes, and fracturing the picture plane into segments to achieve an ambiguous sense of depth. Divisionism was rooted in the color theory of the 19th century, and the Pointillist works of painters such as Georges Seurat.
Gino Severini (Italian, 1883-1966)
Sea = Dancer (Mare = Ballerina), 1914
Medium: Oil On Canvas With Artist’s Painted Frame
Dimensions: 39 3/8 x 31 11/16 in. (100 x 80.5 cm)
In 1911, Futurist paintings were exhibited in Milan at the Mostra d’arte libera, and invitations were extended to “all those who want to assert something new, that is to say far from imitations, derivations and falsifications.” The paintings featured threadlike brushstrokes and highly keyed color that depicted space as fragmented and fractured. Subjects and themes focused on technology, speed, and violence, rather than portraits or simple landscapes. Among the paintings was Boccioni’s The City Rises (1910), a picture which can claim to be the first Futurist painting by virtue of its advanced, Cubist-influenced style. Public reaction was mixed. French critics from literary and artistic circles expressed hostility, while many praised the innovative content.
Boccioni’s encounter with Cubist painting in Paris had an important influence on him, and he carried this back to his peers in Italy. Nevertheless, the Futurists claimed to reject the style, since they believed it was too preoccupied by static objects, and not enough by the movement of the modern world. It was their fascination with movement that led to their interest in chrono-photography. Balla was particularly enthusiastic about the technology, and his pictures sometimes evoke fast-paced animation, with objects blurred by movement. As stated by the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting, “On account of the persistency of an image upon the retina, moving objects constantly multiply themselves; their form changes like rapid vibrations in their mad career. Thus a running horse has not four legs, but twenty, and their movements are triangular.” Rather than perceiving an action as a performance of a single limb, Futurists viewed action as the convergence in time and space of multiple extremities.
In 1913, Boccioni used sculpture to further articulate Futurist dynamism. Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913) exemplifies vigorous action as well as the relationship between object and environment. The piece was a breakthrough for the Futurist movement, but after 1913 the movement began to break apart as its members developed their own personal positions. In 1915, Italy entered World War I; by its end, Boccioni and the Futurist architect Antonio Sant’Elia perished. Following the war, the movement’s center shifted from Milan to Rome; Severini continued to paint in the distinctive Futurist style, and the movement remained active in the 1920s, but the energy had passed from it.
Umberto Boccioni (Italian, 1882-1916)
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space. 1913 (cast 1931)
Dimensions: 44” H x 35” x 16” W (111 x 89 x 40 cm)
Carlo Carrà (Italian, 1881-1966)
Interventionist Manifesto, 1953-54
Medium: Tempera, pen, mica powder, paper glued on cardboard
Dimensions: 15 x 11 in. (38.5 x 30 cm)
Nevertheless, Futurism sparked important developments outside Italy. A synthesis of Parisian Cubism and Italian Futurism was particularly influential in Russia from around 1912 until 1920, inspiring artists including Kazimir Malevich, Liubov Popova, Natalia Goncharova and David Burliuk. The developments in Russia made the movement very distinct from the Italian strain, and different aspects of it are often described as Rayonist, or Cubo-Futurist. Cubo-Futurism was also an influence on English art, where it gave rise to the Vorticist movement, which embraced philosopher T.E. Hulme, poet Ezra Pound, and artists Christopher Nevinson, Wyndham Lewis, David Bomberg and Jacob Epstein. Although the impact of Italian Futurism was concentrated in the visual arts, it did inspire artists in other media: Vladimir Mayakovsky was important in developing a Futurist literature in Russia; the Italian architect Antonio Sant’Elia developed a Futurist architecture, and is said to have penned a manifesto on the subject (his designs may have influenced the sets of Ridley Scott’s film Bladerunner (1982)); and Luigi Russolo shifted from painting to creating musical instruments, and later wrote the manifesto “The Art of Noises” (1913), which has been a significant reference point for avant-garde music ever since. Although much of the energy had left the movement by the 1920s, the Futurist aesthetic also became part of the mix of modernist styles that inspired Art Deco.
Georges Braque (French, Argenteuil 1882–1963 Paris), 1911
Medium: Oil and charcoal with sand on canvas
Dimensions: 25 3/4 x 21 5/8 in. (65.4 x 54.9 cm)
Cubism was one of the most influential visual art styles of the early twentieth century. It was created by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973) and Georges Braque (French, 1882–1963) in Paris between 1907 and 1914. The French art critic Louis Vauxcelles coined the term Cubism after seeing the landscapes Braque had painted in 1908 at L’Estaque in emulation of Cézanne. Vauxcelles called the geometric forms in the highly abstracted works “cubes.” Other influences on early Cubism have been linked to Primitivism and non-Western sources. The stylization and distortion of Picasso’s ground-breaking Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (Museum of Modern Art, New York), painted in 1907, came from African art. Picasso had first seen African art when, in May or June 1907, he visited the ethnographic museum in the Palais du Trocadéro in Paris.
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, Malaga 1881–1973 Mougins, France), 1911
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 24 1/8 x 19 7/8 in. (61.3 x 50.5 cm)
The Cubist painters rejected the inherited concept that art should copy nature, or that they should adopt the traditional techniques of perspective, modeling, and foreshortening. They wanted instead to emphasize the two-dimensionality of the canvas. So they reduced and fractured objects into geometric forms, and then realigned these within a shallow, relieflike space. They also used multiple or contrasting vantage points.
Roger de la Fresnaye (French, Le Mans 1885–1925 Grasse), 1911
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 51 1/4 x 62 3/4 in. (130.2 x 159.4 cm)
In Cubist work up to 1910, the subject of a picture was usually discernible. Although figures and objects were dissected or “analyzed” into a multitude of small facets, these were then reassembled, after a fashion, to evoke those same figures or objects. During “high” Analytic Cubism (1910–12), also called “hermetic,” Picasso and Braque so abstracted their works that they were reduced to just a series of overlapping planes and facets mostly in near-monochromatic browns, grays, or blacks. In their work from this period, Picasso and Braque frequently combined representational motifs with letters (1999.363.63; 1999.363.11). Their favorite motifs were still lifes with musical instruments, bottles, pitchers, glasses, newspapers, playing cards (1997.149.12), and the human face and figure. Landscapes were rare.
Sonia Delaunay (Ukrainian-born French Painter 1885 – 1979)
Blaise Cendrars (Swiss-born novelist and poet 1887 – 1961)
La prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France, 1913
4 sheets folio (500 x 359 mm), assembled into 22 parts accordion folded in a narrow binding in-4 (370 x 115 mm).
During the winter of 1912–13, Picasso executed a great number of papiers collés (1999.363.64). With this new technique of pasting colored or printed pieces of paper in their compositions, Picasso and Braque swept away the last vestiges of three-dimensional space (illusionism) that still remained in their “high” Analytic work. Whereas, in Analytic Cubism, the small facets of a dissected or “analyzed” object are reassembled to evoke that same object, in the shallow space of Synthetic Cubism—initiated by the papiers collés–large pieces of neutral or colored paper themselves allude to a particular object, either because they are often cut out in the desired shape or else sometimes bear a graphic element that clarifies the association.
Violin and Playing Cards on a Table
Juan Gris (Spanish, Madrid 1887–1927 Boulogne-sur-Seine), 1913
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 39 1/2 × 25 3/4 in. (100.3 × 65.4 cm)
While Picasso and Braque are credited with creating this new visual language, it was adopted and further developed by many painters, including Fernand Léger (1999.363.35), Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Juan Gris (1996.403.14), Roger de la Fresnaye (1991.397), Marcel Duchamp, Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger (59.86), and even Diego Rivera (49.70.51). Though primarily associated with painting, Cubism also exerted a profound influence on twentieth-century sculpture and architecture. The major Cubist sculptors were Alexander Archipenko, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, and Jacques Lipchitz.
The liberating formal concepts initiated by Cubism also had far-reaching consequences for Dada and Surrealism, as well as for all artists pursuing abstraction in Germany, Holland, Italy, England, America, and Russia.
Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Pop Art: A Brief History
In the years following World War II, the United States enjoyed an unprecedented period of economic and political growth. Many middle class Americans moved to the suburbs, spurred by the availability of inexpensive, mass-produced homes. Elvis Presley led the emergence of rock and roll, Marilyn Monroe was a reigning film star, and television replaced radio as the dominant media outlet.
Yet by the late 1950s and early 1960s, a “cultural revolution” was underway, led by activists, thinkers, and artists who sought to rethink and even overturn what was, in their eyes, a stifling social order ruled by conformity. The Vietnam War incited mass protests, the Civil Rights Movement sought equality for African Americans, and the women’s liberation movement gained momentum.
Jasper Johns; Three Flags, 1958. Encaustic on Canvas, 30 7/8 x 45 1/2 x 5 inches
Inspired by the Everyday
It was in this climate of turbulence, experimentation, and consumerism that a new generation of artists emerged in Britain and America in the mid- to late-1950s. Pop artists began to look for inspiration in the world around them, representing—and, at times, making art directly from—everyday items, consumer goods, and mass media. They did this in a straightforward manner, using bold swaths of primary colors, often straight from the can or tube of paint. They adopted commercial methods like silkscreening, or produced multiples of works, downplaying the artist’s hand and subverting the idea of originality—in marked contrast with the highly expressive, large-scaled abstract works of the Abstract Expressionists, whose work had dominated postwar American art. Pop artists favored realism, everyday (and even mundane) imagery, and heavy doses of irony and wit.
Yet Pop artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein were very aware of the past. They sought to connect fine art traditions with pop culture elements from television, advertisements, films, and cartoons. At the same time, their work challenged traditional boundaries between media, combining painted gestures with photography and printmaking; combining handmade and readymade or mass-produced elements; and combining objects, images, and sometimes text to make new meanings.
Appropriation in art is the use of pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to them. The use of appropriation has played a significant role in the history of the arts (literary, visual, musical and performing arts). In the visual arts, to appropriate means to properly adopt, borrow, recycle or sample aspects (or the entire form) of human-made visual culture. Notable in this respect are the Readymades of Marcel Duchamp.
Inherent in our understanding of appropriation is the concept that the new work recontextualizes whatever it borrows to create the new work. In most cases the original ‘thing’ remains accessible as the original, without change. Wikipedia
Culture jamming (sometimes guerrilla communication) is a tactic used by many anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt or subvert media culture and its mainstream cultural institutions, including corporate advertising. It attempts to “expose the methods of domination” of a mass society to foster progressive change.
Culture jamming is a form of subvertising. Many culture jams are intended to expose questionable political assumptions behind commercial culture. Tactics include re-figuring logos, fashion statements, and product images as a means to challenge the idea of “what’s cool.” Culture jamming often entails using mass media to produce ironic or satirical commentary about itself, commonly using the original medium’s communication method.
Culture jamming is employed as a reaction against social conformity. Prominent examples of culture jamming include the adulteration of billboard advertising by the Billboard Liberation Front (BLF), and contemporary artists such as Ron English. Culture jamming may involve street parties and protests. While culture jamming usually focuses on subverting or critiquing political and advertising messages, some proponents focus on a more positive (often musically inspired) form which brings together artists, scholars, and activists to create new types of cultural production that transcend—rather than merely criticize—the status quo. Wikipedia
The Yes Men
The Yes Men
The Yes Men
The Guerrilla Girls
Banksy – Guantanamo
Banksy – No Loitering
Banksy in Palestine – Cut Out