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« Elsewhere | Main | Which Movie Couple Are You? »

August 29, 2003

Chaos of History: Art from 1920

Michael:

This is the next posting in my continuing, if wildly idiosyncratic, survey of art. My organizational method is not narrative, but strictly chronological, with the goal of showing something of the diversity of painting from a given moment in time. Although previously I’ve been moving forward in time decade by decade, I realized that I somehow skipped over art from around the year 1920, so I’ve decided to back up and fill in this gap.

The dominant formal characteristic of art c. 1920 was linear design. As you can see below, most of the paintings function as something closely akin to colored drawings. Even the Guy Rose, in his painting of Point Lobos has, for all his Impressionist technique, emphasized the linear quality of his composition, rather than its atmospheric effects. (Partly, one suspects, that this is a tribute to the cultural prestige enjoyed in 1920 by Cubism, and partially the mediumistic quality of visual artists, always testing the art-ether with their antennae.)

FEMALE PORTRAITS


J. Gris, Portrait of Josette Gris, 1916; E. Coonan, Girl in Dotted Dress, 1923

LANDSCAPE


C. Burchfield, Noontide in Late May, 1917; G. Rose, Point Lobos, Carmel, 1918

FEMALE NUDES


P. Picasso, Large Bather, 1921; A. Modigliani, Standing Nude (Elvira), 1918

METAPHYSICAL MOOD PIECES


W. Kandinsky, Yellow, Red, Blue, 1925; F. Johnston, Serenity:Lake of the Woods, 1922

Be honest: doesn’t that “Serenity: Lake of the Woods” make you want to move to Canada and take up painting?

Cheers,

Friedrich

posted by Friedrich at August 29, 2003




Comments

Great selections, many thanks. I'd love to know a bit more about some of the less well-known artists, hint hint.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 29, 2003 12:46 AM



Mr F,

I'd be more likely to want to move to Canada and take up painting if there weren't that nasty smokestack belching smoke in the background. And the black, spiky clouds moving into the picture on top--perhaps all is not really fine in Paradise?

Posted by: Deb on August 29, 2003 9:47 AM



I think I might rather move to wherever "Noontide in Late May" is. Or Carmel...

Posted by: annette on August 29, 2003 10:08 AM



You know, Deb, for some people nothing and nowhere is never quite good enough, is it?

As for "Lake of the Woods," well, I've been there and my mother taught in the mythical "one room schoolhouse" there for many years.

One data point: You do not, DO NOT, want to be there in anything that even vaguely resembles winter. Your serenity will be seriously shattered as will the rime of ice that forms on around your mouth when you breathe.

Posted by: Van der Leun on August 29, 2003 12:50 PM



Van der Leun,

I live in Wisconsin. One memorable winter not too long ago we had -20 weather for 29 days in a row. I live in a 100 year old farmhouse that seriously needed some insulation and new windows. I baked every day before lunch so that the kitchen was warm enough to eat in. When it warmed up to -10 below, I took the kids to town to window shop just to celebrate. Cold doesn't bother me, much.

However, a painting of wilderness with a smokestack in the background tells me that perhaps the artist was concerned about encroaching industrialization and its effect on the serenity of the scene. I see this painting which, I admit, I know nothing about as an environmental statement as well as a pretty picture. Given that it was painted in 1922, 4 years after the end of WWI, I wonder if there isnt something deeper going on here than just a picture of a lake. That, of course, is pure speculation.

Posted by: Deb on August 29, 2003 3:39 PM



You know, Deb, for some people nothing and nowhere is never quite good enough, is it?

As for "Lake of the Woods," well, I've been there and my mother taught in the mythical "one room schoolhouse" there for many years.

One data point: You do not, DO NOT, want to be there in anything that even vaguely resembles winter. Your serenity will be seriously shattered as will the rime of ice that forms on around your mouth when you breathe.

Posted by: Van der Leun on August 29, 2003 4:17 PM



Either something went wrong with the posting, or Van ser Leun didn't think much of Deb's reply.:)

Deb and I have both freely admitted to a lack of formal training in painting. But I must admit, it does seem that those black, spiky clouds are right out of a suspense movie...announcing something sinister has arrived...

Posted by: annette on August 29, 2003 5:10 PM



"One data point: You do not, DO NOT, want to be there in anything that even vaguely resembles winter."

Away with your beastly stereotypes!

I think it got below freezing here last year for a sum total of 40 minutes, similarly the year before, and most of the others I can remember with only a few notable exceptions. Our winters are milder than just about every where else on the globe. Likewise, our summers.

Granted, I live on an island in BC, but an island, I want to point out, in which we neither have winter, nor summer, nor wildfires, just perpetual spring followed by autumn, followed by spring.

And, yes, almost everyone I know at least tries their hand at painting at some point. Living here, you are tempted to conclude that climate really is destiny.

Posted by: tonio on August 29, 2003 6:16 PM






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