Published on September 30, 2008
Chapter 23 Postwar Modern Movements in the West Abstract Expressionism Pop Art Minimalism Site Works Installations Earth Art Modern Sculpture Feminism Performance Andy Warhol, Mickey Mouse
Abstract Expressionism A mainly American movement of artists who came together informally, Abstract Expressionism began in the 1940's, influenced by European abstraction and Surrealism. Many artists from World War II Europe came to America and became major influences on artists before, during, and after World War II including Ernst, Mondrian, and Hans Hoffman. Major figures of Abstract Expressionism were Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. Common elements included a certain spiritual nature of the work, the elements of chance and the unconscious, and the absence or distortion of objective reality. The movement was at its height during the early 1950's; several sculptors can also be considered abstract expressionists. Jackson Pollock, detail of Autumn Rhythm, 1950
Jackson Pollock Jack the Dripper "Action Painting“ the large drip paintings of Pollock Autumn Rhythm , 1950 an influential American painter and a major force in the Abstract Expressionist movement.
Other Abstract Expressionists De Kooning, Woman, 1949 Helen Frankenthaler, Mountains and Sea, 1952 Robert Motherwell, Mural Fragment, 1950
Color Field Painting Mark Rothko Magenta, Green, Black on Orange, 1949 Orange and Yellow, 1956 No. 10, 1950 Rothko painted in oil only on large canvas with vertical formats. This considerably large proportion was utilized in order to overwhelm the viewer, or in Rothko’s words, to make the viewer feel enveloped within the painting.
Robert Rauschenberg This hard-to-characterize boundary breaker has worked with America's best-known avant-garde artists, musicians and choreographers, and is a very important cultural figure in post-WWII America. Generally classified as Early Pop Art. Canyon, 1959 Monogram, 1955-59 Pilgrim, 1960
Pop Art An American non-organized movement, Pop Art is well-known as a late 1950's, early 1960's art movement. A reaction to Abstract Expressionism and the new consumer culture in the United States, Pop's early figures were Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol; Claes Oldenburg is a Pop Art sculptor. Pop artists generally wanted to make art that was 'cool' as opposed to the strong emotion of Abstract Expressionism; Images were generally taken from advertising and the contemporary world. Styles of Pop ranged from painterly to hard-edge. Jasper Johns, Target with Four Faces, 1955 Jasper Johns, Flag, 1954
Andy Warhol Andy Warhol worked as a fashion illustrator and commercial artist before turning to the fine art scene. His early work included huge enlargements of comic strip pictures that were used in the display windows of large New York department stores. During the 1960s, at a time when popular culture became a dominant force in both society and the arts, Andy Warhol became the guru of Pop Art. Using the most ordinary objects, Coke bottles, Campbell's soup cans, and the most popular personalities of American culture, Warhol gave them heroic scale and turned them into art. What Warhol created was a new kind of still life in a twentieth-century mass-media, popular-culture mode, rather than the illusionary manner of the nineteenth century. Warhol renounced originality, confused the boundaries of mass art and high culture and continually challenged the conventions of the gallery and museum. He said, "In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes." 100 Soup Cans
Marilyn Mick Jagger Liz Taylor popular personalities of American culture
Roy Lichtenstein The Sponge, 1962 A prominent American Pop Artist, his work was heavily influenced by both popular advertising and the comic book. Drowning Girl, 1963 Wham!, 1963
Claes Oldenburg (Pop art and site works) Bat column, 1977 Floor Cake, 1962 Trowel 1, 1971-76 a sculptor, best known for his public art installations typically featuring very large replicas of everyday objects. Another theme in his work is soft sculpture versions of everyday objects.
Minimalism Not an organized movement, minimalism began in the 1960's, predominantly in the United States. Its main thesis is "less is more," a reaction against the highly emotional nature of Abstract Expressionism. Large sculptures and paintings consist of bare geometric forms - squares, cubes, sometimes in more complex arrangements, and often limited in color. Donald Judd's minimalist sculpture consists of large, heavy cube forms. Although it can be a sterile form of expression in the hands of an artist of limited depth, Judd's cubes express a forceful finality and strength, and are an expression of our times in terms of the lessening influence of the natural world and more influence from our industrial, geometric environment. Donald Judd, Untitled, 1977 Untitled, 1969
Site Works Artists began creating works that are inseparable from the sites for which they were designed. In Site-specific works, the artist’s sensitivity to the location determines the composition, scale, medium, and even the content of each piece. Site works are environmental constructions frequently made of sculptural materials designed to interact with by not permanently alter the environment. Claes Oldenburg, Cherry and Spoon Oldenburg, Shuttlecock
Christo Site work of artist Christo – Running Fence, Sonoma County, California The nylon fence was 18' high and 24 miles long involving thousands of people. The fence itself was not presented as the art object but rather the focal point was the people, process, object, and place working together. Coming from Europe to America, Christo is one of the best known environmental site artist. He creates temporary works that are a combination of natural and manmade, often involving large numbers of workers to construct the projects.
Earth Art This international movement began in the 1970's, and used the natural world as its material and content, generally making large 'earthworks'. Environmental artists work as individuals, rather than as part of an organized art movement. Earthworks consist of natural materials, such as large rocks, arranged in patterns over a large and perhaps isolated area, such as Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson. Spiral Jetty, Salt Lakes, Utah - 1970 (is now submerged below water's surface)
Installations Made for a specific space, exploiting certain qualities of that space. Installations may be temporary or permanent. A work of art created for a specific location and designed to relate to that location. 3D use of constructing and assembling a work.
Sculptors are also blurring distinctions and boundaries of sculpture into large spaces, creating not just a mass that takes up real space but creating an entire indoor environment. Judy Pfaff in Neither Here Nor There created installation pieces so complex that they transform the whole of the interior, allowing the viewer to truly interact and become engulfed by the art.
Andy Goldsworthy Andy Goldsworthy is a brilliant British artist who collaborates with nature to make his creations. Besides England and Scotland, his work has been created at the North Pole, in Japan, the Australian Outback, and in the United States. Goldsworthy regards all his creations as temporary. He photographs each piece once right after he makes it. His goal is to understand nature by directly participating in nature as intimately as he can. He generally works with whatever he notices: twigs, leaves, stones, snow and ice, reeds and thorns.
Modern Sculpture Alberto Giacometti Swiss sculptor, painter, draftsman, and printmaker. Giacometti was a key player in the Surrealist Movement, but his work resists easy categorization. Even after his excommunication from the Surrealist group, the end products were an expression of his emotional response to the subject. He attempted to create renditions of his models the way he saw them and the way he thought they ought to be seen. He once said that he was sculpting not the human figure but "the shadow that is cast." Surrealist Table, 1933 Cage, 1930 Woman of Venice, 1956
Henry Moore Reclining Figure in Wood, 1936 Reclining Figure, 1934 Reclining Figure, 1979 Moore's signature form is a reclining figure. His exploration of Mayan figures lead him to increasing abstraction as he turned his thoughts towards experimentation with the elements of design. Moore's earlier reclining figures deal principally with mass, while his later ones contrast the solid elements of the sculpture with the space, not only round them but generally through them as he pierced the forms with openings.
Louise Nevelson Royal Tide, 1964 Dawn Wedding Chapel, 1959 Black Chord, 1964 Nevelson is known for her abstract expressionist “boxes” grouped together to form a new creation. She used found objects or everyday discarded things in her assemblages.
Alexander Calder: Kinetic Art Southern Cross, 1963 Blue Feather, 1948 American sculptor and artist most famous for inventing the mobile. In addition to mobile and stabile sculpture, Alexander Calder also created paintings, lithographs, toys, tapestry and designed carpets.
Duane Hanson: Super Realism Shopper, 1963 Queenie, 1988 Young Worker Hanson's super-realist sculptures are cast from human models and rendered in polyvinyl, auto body filler (bondo), or bronze. The "skin" of the sculptures is painted in such detail as to resemble human flesh. The sculptures are then finished with clothing, hair, jewelry and other accessories.
Feminist Art Movement The feminist art movement refers to the efforts and accomplishments of feminists internationally to bring more visibility to women within art history and art practice. Corresponding with general developments within feminism, the movement began in the 1960s, flourished throughout the 1970s, and the effects of it continue to the present. The increased prominence of women artists within art history as well as contemporary art practice can be attributed to this movement. Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial by Racheal Whiteread, 2000; also known as Nameless Library. It is a work in cast concrete with the walls made up of rows of books, with the pages rather than the spines turned outward; this can be regarded as a comment on Jews as a "people of the book" and the Nazi book burnings. On one of the walls is the negative cast of double-doors.
Feminism Judy Chicago: The Dinner Party This is a work of art, triangular in configuration, 48 feet on each side, which employs numerous media including ceramics, china-painting, and needlework to honor women's achievements. An immense open table covered with fine white cloths is set with 39 place settings, thirteen on a side, each commemorating a goddess or historically important woman. Though many are largely unknown, their names, says the artist, should be familiar to us as the male heroes whose exploits we absorb from childhood through art, myth, literature, history, and popular entertainment. The Dinner Party suggests that these female heroes are equally worthy of commemoration as are those hundreds of others (999) whose names are inscribed upon the Heritage Floor. Chicago thinks of the piece as a "reinterpretation of The Last Supper from the point of view of those who've done the cooking throughout history."
The Guerrilla Girls Proclaim War on Sexist Practices in the Art Establishment The Guerrilla Girls are a group of women artists, writers, performers, film makers and arts professionals who fight discrimination. They wear gorilla masks to focus on the issues rather than their personalities. Using humor to convey information, they intend to expose sexism and racism in the art world.
Louise Bourgeois Bourgeois’s early sculpture was composed of groupings of abstract and organic shapes, often carved from wood. By the 1960s she began to execute her work in rubber, bronze, and stone, and the pieces themselves became larger, more referential to what has become the dominant theme of her work—her childhood. The anthropomorphic shapes her pieces take—the female and male bodies are continually referenced and remade—are charged with sexuality and innocence and the interplay between the two. The One and Others, 1955 The Nest, 1994
Performance Art Sometimes, the artist is part of the installation, in which case the installation becomes performance art. The term "Performance Art" got its start in the 1960s in the United States. It was originally used to describe any live artistic event that included poets, musicians, and film makers in addition to visual artists. It's worth noting that, even though we're referencing the 1960s here, there were earlier precedents for Performance Art. The live performances of the Dadaists, in particular, meshed poetry and the visual arts. The German Bauhaus, founded in 1919, included a theater workshop to explore relationships between space, sound and light - a good 20 years before the 1960s. Stephen Taylor Woodrow: "The Living Paintings", artist and friends at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, NYC, 1988.
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