I freely admit this is not a period of art I am a fan of but unexpectedly discovered Futurism which intrigues me in its brevity and style and have also changed my mind on Cubism too now I am starting to understand it finally!
Developments in artist style seemed to change rapidly with the move away from traditions dating back to the 14th Century and also a growing rejection of Impressionism – Water Lilies which is one of the most famous of Monet’s work was reacted against by Picasso with his Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. The former was illusionistic impression of water with its shimmering colours and the other had jagged forms and harsher colours and handling – one rejects the other and I feel that Monet’s work could be seen as a rejection of the Picasso’s work as much as it is vice versa. You can without question see the primitive art influence on the figures and a heavy erotic overtone in Les Demoiselles – it is thought Ingres’s Turkish Bath may have been a source of inspiration for the work. At this stage of reading the chapter I could happily go back and absorb again the work of the Impressionists – I simply like the softer palette of colours combined with the illusionistic effects that soften the mind and appeal to the senses whereas the work of Picasso jars and reacts against gentle emotions giving feelings of aggression or hostility whilst also intriguing to look deeper.
As I read further to discover Fauvism on the whole this made total sense to me but also appealed to my love of colour – the works of Henri Matisse and Andre Derain appeal to the senses and although so very different to the art that preceded it I have the impression of the Romantic era in the use of colour to convey emotions. Fauvism defines form and depth through colour whilst using bold brush strokes with a looseness and roughness that expresses the mood the artist is trying to convey.
As I moved on to Expressionism and Cubism I again found myself realising that my previous perspective on these art movements was changing but I admit to having to re-read the chapter as I was typing my notes – I have not find it easy to grasp the concepts of the style or what the artists were trying to achieve.
Futurism is the art I really fell in love with reading Chapter 19 – I love the sense of speed conveyed and with a concentration on the action of the body rather than the form. The colours and abstact shapes used to convey the technology, the violence, the life, the youth and yes the violence of the period are all apparent in the art. I also liked the fact this was not solely an art movement but rather a social movement too although I disliked the view that older forms of culture should be destroyed and maybe my view is coloured by the destruction of many buildings of antiquity during a current religious war happening in the Far East. I like the portrayal of the beauty of the time but the beauty is soured by the want of destruction of the art and museums of the cultures that have gone before – that dislike does not however take away from the abstract sculpture and the stunning works of abstract art that conveyed the speed and power of the time.
Abstraction in art is for me something that did not make sense but I have discovered I like it once I understood it! – Expressionism literally expressing moods and emotions in a distorted reality using colour and line as opposed to realistic form and is considered to be influenced by Romanticism. Expressionism is for me full of mystic and the inner workings of the mind of the artist. Cubism appealed due to the mathematical geometrical shapes and limited palettes of colours but understanding it was another matter but now to comprehend the artist vision of a realistic or naturalistic source image and fragmenting it with distortions of light and perspective to express a new impression of reality. Where I find difficulty with Cubism is where there is total abstraction with no representation of the object or figure that inspired the work – my personal preference is the art where there is some indication of representation but I like the fragmentation and the limited use of colour to create the sense of three-dimensional space.
The point at which I realised I had started to fully understand abstract art came in the form of a fellow OCA student – Mini Arora on the Facebook page for Sketchbooks. Mini had posted this photograph of a recent piece she had been working on and asked for comments – my immediate reaction was that it spoke of possible anger mixed with calm or stiller waters on the edge or underneath as if the calm is trying to break through the tension or vice versa. I felt there were raggedy emotions that were mixed up or unsure and I loved the expressive marks and textures used.
Mini was happy that I had picked up on the discordance that she had wanted to portray and further told me that she is trying to use found objects in her work as she is trying to make a statement on being careful of what we discard and about reusing objects hence the bag ties included.
I do have Mini’s very kind permission to use her image and our dialogue in this blog as a demonstration of me finally understanding abstract art and Expressionist art – the ability to convey emotions through the use of artistic media without necessarily having to use recognisable form or line but letting our inner emotions dictate the art instinctively or consciously. Ultimately art is subjective and although I am a huge lover of Renaissance and Baroque art I am now finding a new love in the art of the 20th Century. I think I am finally getting it!
‘ISMS.… this is a short dictionary of some of the ‘isms I have so far come across and needed a dictionary to explain and this will no doubt be added to – excuse the word ‘polemic’ which I also include for my own explanation.
aphorism – a pithy observation which contains a general truth or a precise statement of scientific principal, typically by a classical author
objectivism – 1. tendency to emphasize what is external or independent of the mind. 2. the beliefs that certain things, especially moral truths, exist independently of human knowledge or perception of them
subjectivism – the doctrine that knowledge is merely subjective and there is no external or objective truth
polemic – strong verbal or written attack on someone or something