Manual Ways Around Modernism (Theories of Modernism and Postmodernism in the Visual Arts)

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Many artists continuously move to LA from other parts of the country, making it a most vibrant and dynamic art scene. Which collections or works are you looking forward to sharing with your students? I am particularly looking forward to the visit to the Broad Museum.

Not only for its excellent collection, but for the building itself. UCLA Extension Visual Arts offers individual courses in design, user experience, art history, photography, and fine art. Learn how we can help your organization meet its professional development goals and corporate training needs. Innovation Programs. Student Scholarships. Coding Boot Camp. Lifelong Learning.

The course is taught by Dahn Hiuni.

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We spoke with him about his goals for the course. What museums are you planning to visit, and why? What do you feel is something unique Los Angeles has to offer art lovers? See All Courses. First Name. Are some people intimidated by formal gallery spaces? Should art be easily accessible, or do we need to educate the public for a better understanding? Without these changes we might not have to ask the questions.

How can an artist effectively communicate with the viewer? What is the purpose of making art available for public viewing? What does the viewer bring to an exhibition context, and how can a safe space be created for artists to be vulnerable and expose their work and for viewers to respond? We have heard these questions forever and ever. Many people are afraid to express an opinion about art and rely mostly on what they are told.

They are afraid that if they express what they really think, they would be considered as boors and lacking basic understanding about art, so they keep quiet and accept the expert opinion of the day. So — should we talk about art? Should the artist explain his ideas and feelings involved in his or her creation?

Postmodern Art

Does the artist even care about his ideas being understood? Should all music appreciation classes be cancelled because music should only be heard and not explained? In the past artists did not have the same standing as they do today. They were considered as merely craftsmen a profession dominated by men , who were commissioned to paint mainly religious themes. As almost all people were illiterate and the Bible was read in Latin, the only way the Church could instruct the masses was by illustrating the Bible stories in frescoes, stained glass, windows and paintings.

All the works done in the past were figurative, telling a story and thus relying heavily on narrative. There was very little left to the imagination, the main goal being to make the story clear to the viewer. Since photography was still in its infancy in the 19 th C. They become essentially documentary works, communicating a clear story. Everyone understands realistic representations of things from real life, no mystery there.

This is why purely abstract art tends to appeal to a smaller audience. It is common to want to know what you are looking at so you can place a literal meaning on it.

Modernism in other arts and architecture

But art, even art that is fairly straightforward in its subject matter, has a larger and deeper meaning that goes beyond the literal, and has an emotional component that is very important. Earlier painters such as the Italian Paolo Ucello had depicted great battle scenes, as, of course, figurative paintings, conveying the movement of the battle. But for the viewer, which one of the battle scenes better communicate the horrors of the war? Towards the end of the 19 th c. Beauty was still a very important aspect of art and so we see a new movement in Vienna, the Secessionists, best represented by Gustav Klimt, who died in and whose lush, decorative paintings are a feast for the eyes.

It seems to me that there is no doubt that this painting easily conveys to the viewer feelings of love and tenderness, even though the figures are somewhat abstracted. Then, at the beginning of the 20 th c starting around , a most dramatic change occurs in art.

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With the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, some artists want to express the tremendous liberation and freedom from the old tradition of painting and we see this, now too familiar image by Kazimir Malevitch, painted in It is a total revolution in the visual arts; but what does it communicate to the viewer? I would very much like to know what you think, since this minimalist approach of black on black, white on white, geometric forms, etc.

Do these paintings need an explanation in order to be understood? What do they communicate to the viewer? What is the point of repeating the same ideas over and over again? Here is what Malevich himself says about his painting; after hearing this, think if it helped you to understand the work better. The imprecise outlines of the asymmetrical square generate a feeling of infinite space rather than definite borders.

At the same time, many artists continued producing art based on the figure, such as Matisse and Picasso, although now the figure is less and less realistic, therefore more difficult to understand.

Modernism or postmodernism? (focus on 20th century art history) - Pnina Granirer

This is the first step towards another revolutionary visual transformation: Cubism. How did the public react to these works?

Have these works mellowed through the years, has the public become accustomed to them, do people understand this art? Like anything new, it takes time to digest the novelty of the new shapes and concepts, but we have to ask the question whether this transformation has led to a smaller number of people who understand and enjoy looking at these works, creating some kind of an elite. On the other hand, have these works enriched and expanded our view of the unlimited possibilities of the artistic imagination?

And then the end of the road: colour field and minimalism, after which there was nowhere else to go. Modernism reasserts the two-dimensionality of the picture surface. It forces the viewer to see the painting first as a painted surface, and only later as a picture. This, Greenberg says, is the best way to see any kind of picture. He also believed that painting should have no other meaning than paint on a surface. So — now we reached the point when our initial question of communication between the artist and the viewer becomes relevant.

Now that the figure has disappeared from the painting and the narrative has been eliminated, what are we supposed to think? When one enters the big white box of the exhibition space and is faced with large canvases covered with paint, how does this experience affect us?


Does the power of the colour and the texture of the paint strike one as a strong emotional experience? I know people who said that, when gazing at a Rothko colour field minimalist painting, they broke down and cried. Others, like the group of French tourists I saw once at the MOMA in New York, were laughing and giggling, seeing these paintings as absurd and not at all as art. Could it be that, given the right kind of art education, they would have been able to appreciate these works and gain a better understanding? We see Rothko disdainfully dismissing the collectors of his paintings as insensitive to the strong feelings he tries to express, while on the other hand he craves the fame and recognition that he cannot get without these same collectors.

It may very well be that after Minimalism literally painted itself into a corner with nowhere else to go, the silliness of POP art, which infuriated Marc Rothko, was the only answer left. Andy Warhol, who was a superb draughtsman, understood the American psyche and still is one of the most collected artists in America.

What exactly does it mean for a work of art to communicate with the viewer? Here are a few examples of landscape painting. Which ones are more accessible to the viewer and why? When we examine the sales records of these artists, we see that the more realistic and easy to understand paintings are doing much better commercially than the more abstracted ones.

Does this mean that the more realistic artists communicate their art better than the more abstract ones? Are the artists who simply copy nature easier to understand than the ones who interpret it and give us a new way of seeing it? Or does it simply mean that we need more education in order to understand the more sophisticated images? Post-Modernism is a rejection of the Modernist values, not a rare occurrence in the art world, when a new vision or style comes into being by rejecting the old one.

It caused a furor when it was first exhibited in the Armory Show in New York, with many arguing that it was not art at all. We are shown a dictionary definition of the word chair, a real-life chair that someone could actually sit down on, and a photograph of that chair. This artwork is about different ways to show ideas. It presents one chair and three different ways of picturing this same chair. Showing a dictionary definition of the word chair is one way.

When I read the definition I imagine a chair in my mind. Showing a photograph is another way to picture a chair. And showing a real-life chair that someone could sit down on is still another way to picture a chair. By showing us three different ways to picture a chair, Kosuth makes the point that there are many ways to show an idea. All three versions are good ways of showing a chair but they are also very different too.