Cultural Changes: The Effect on Art You’re an artist during WWI, bombs exploding everywhere, innocent people even children losing their lives, how will you express your intense anger and sadness towards the events that are taking place? The frustration towards war and other social, political or cultural changes can bring about different responses from different people. When it comes to art, art movements are created out of the need for people to communicate their reactions to these changes. Whether they admire them or despise them, their central goal is to show how they feel about them.
I’m going to start out with the art movement Dadaism. This movement was roughly between the years of 1916-1924. Some of the major artists were Jean Arp, Marcel Duchamp, George Grosz, Francis Picabia and Man Ray. The Dadaism movement was a protest against the brutality of the War and the strictness in both art and everyday society (Dadaism, n. d. ). Artists were so fed up with everyday life that they did everything they could to go against the norm when it came to art. Whatever art stood for at the time, Dada represented the complete opposite. If art was intended to have a message, Dada went all out to have no meaning. With the order of the world destroyed by World War I, Dada was a way to express the confusion that was felt by many people as their world was turned upside down” (Dadaism, n. d. ). These artists used any public medium they could find to figuratively spit on nationalism, rationalism, materialism and any other -ism that they felt contributed to a senseless war (Esaak, n. d. ). They used this as a way to protest the war and other social injustices. They felt if society was going to handle problems by going to war, they didn’t want anything to do with society or its customs especially when it came to art. Using an early form of Shock Art, the Dadaists thrust mild obscenities, scatological humor, visual puns and everyday objects (renamed as "art") into the public eye” (Esaak, n. d. ). One of the artists even painted a mustache on the Mona Lisa and made obscene notes underneath. The community was completely disgusted, which the artists found very encouraging because that was the reaction they were aiming for. Dada was planned to instigate an emotional reaction of shock or anger and once it no longer did, it became useless. My second movement is Futurism. This movement was roughly between the years of 1907-1944.
Some of the major artists were Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Kasimir Malevich, and Liubov Popova. “Futurism was presented as a modernist movement celebrating the technological, future era” (Futurism, n. d. ). These artists wanted to represent art in terms of the technological age. They hated middle class virtues and the ideas of the past. They also wanted to represent art completely different from the sappiness of Romanticism. Futurism glorified war and supported the development of Fascism. It criticized traditional conventionalism, demanded social changes, and pointed out all of the faults of a corrupt government (McLaughlin, n. . ). The Futurist painters used repetition of lines, wide range of angles, brilliant colors, and flowing brush strokes to create a dimension of time and the illusion of movement. (Futurism, n. d. ). Futurists thrived on the imitation of speed, noise, and machines (McLaughlin, n. d. ). It embraced everything that the new world was creating and used new techniques and technology to produce the work. The nature of futurism was intended to instigate public anger and amazement, to stimulate controversy, and to attract widespread attention (Pioch, 2002).
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My third movement is Fascism and Socialist Realism. This movement was roughly between the years of 1920-1940. The fascist building style conveyed power and control (Order from Stone, n. d. ). This is something that is completely characteristic of Nazi principles. It was also another way for Hitler to show his power to the world. The buildings needed to be impressive and intimidating to express Nazi ideals of order and strength (Order from Stone, n. d. ). Architects used stark facades with columns, pilasters, and clean lines on a massive scale to create a new aesthetic (Order from Stone, n. . ). “They cultivated an aesthetic of order, using minimal decoration and emphasizing straight lines” (Order from Stone, n. d. ). Symmetry was important to Hitler because this was believed to create the image of order. Hitler wanted the buildings to be resilient and noticeable representations of Nazi ideals. Hitler also worked with architects to create massive assembly halls and grounds where the German people could gather and show their patriotism during speeches and rallies. “Like all other forms of art during the Nazi regime, architecture was a tool of the state” (Order from Stone, n. . ). This architecture was just another way for the Nazis to control the lives of the German people. Fascism also showed itself in Socialist Realism. Some of the major artists were Semyon Chuikov, Sergei Gerasimov, Arkady Plastov, Sergei Merkurov, and Vera Mukhina. Socialist Realism was a type of art in Soviet Russia and other Communist countries that involved an objective reflection of real life to educate and inspire the masses, and an uncritical glorification of the State (Chilvers, 1999). This art movement portrays the working class as being heroic.
Socialist Realism paintings were mostly of domestic scenes, portraits, landscapes, farms, and patriotic scenes. As for sculptures, the usual creation was of heroic statues. This art was severely restricted in form and content. It was also seen as a powerful propaganda tool and as long as it followed the guidelines set by the communist party, it was accepted. Finally during the Post War Era we have the Abstract Expressionism movement. This movement was roughly between the years of 1945-1965. Some of the major artists were Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston and Robert Motherwell. Abstract expressionism was specifically an American post-World War II art movement” (Abstract Expressionism, n. d. ). “After WWII, with images of the Holocaust everywhere, it seemed redundant for socially-aware artists to paint these same images when a photograph was much more powerful” (Abstract Expressionism, n. d. ). With so much death and destruction after the war, artists wanted to focus on producing paintings that were more lively, fun, and colorful. Artists began to look at color and shape and were painting whole canvases orange or blue. These works were formed in a particular geographical setting and showed a specific attitude.
Artists also paid close attention to the surface quality as well as texture and used large canvases. Abstract Expressionism emphasized the portrayal of emotions rather than objects and most painters favored large canvasses, dramatic colors, and loose brushwork (Art History: Abstract Expressionism, 2009). Artists of this movement wanted to give emphasis to the accident or chance in their paintings, but they mostly planned how they were going to carry it out. Therefore, artists took advantage of any mistakes that occurred during the painting process. Abstract Expressionist paintings consisted of shapes, lines, and forms meant to create a separate reality from the visual world” (Art History: Abstract Expressionism, 2009). Artists saw painting as an expression of emotion and as a way to visually communicate to the public. There are two types of Abstract Expressionism, Action Painting and Color Field Painting. Action painters wanted to show paint texture and the movement of the artist’s hand. Color Field painters were concerned with color and shape in order to construct peaceful and spiritual paintings without the representation of a theme. The philosophy of Abstract Expressionism searches for answers to the questions of human existence and addresses personal psychological battles, the external struggle between man and nature, and the hunt for spiritual comfort” (Art History: Abstract Expressionism, 2009) In conclusion, we can see that these art movements were created out of the need for people to communicate their reactions to social changes. Whether they admired them or despised them, artists expressed their feelings about them in some way. Dadaism was a protest against the brutality of the War and other social injustices.
Their paintings expressed an anti-war and anti-norm attitude. Futurism celebrated technology and thrived on speed, noise, and machines. It despised middle class virtues, ideas of the past, and Romanticism. The fascist building style needed to be impressive and intimidating to express order and strength. It was also a way to have complete control over the German people. Socialist Realism was meant to inspire the masses and glorify the state. During the post war era, abstract expressionism searched for answers to human existence and used a style meant to create a separate reality from the visual world.
It wanted to get away from painting the harshness of the war and focused on expressing a more colorful, lively, and fun feeling. All of these movements are similar in that they were a response to the social, political, and cultural changes of the time. In addition, the artists intended to send a message to its viewers. These messages were meant to control the actions of or get a specific reaction from its audience. In some way or another, they all managed to accomplish this. ? Bibliography Abstract expressionism (Late 1940’s – early 1960’s). (n. d. ) Retrieved January 20, 2010, from http://www. untfor. com/arthistory/C20th/absexpress. htm Art history: Abstract expressionism: (1940-1955). (2009, September). Retrieved January 20, 2010 from http://wwar. com/masters/movements/abstract_expressionism. html Chilvers, I. (1999). Socialist realism: A dictionary of twentieth-century art. Retrieved February 14, 2010, from http://www. encyclopedia. com/doc/1O5-SocialistRealism. html Dadaism(1916-1924). (n. d. ). Retrieved January 20, 2010, from http://www. huntfor. com/arthistory/C20th/dadaism. htm Esaak, S. (n. d. ). Dada - Art history 101 basics: The non-art movement (1916-23).
Retrieved January 20, 2010, from http://arthistory. about. com/cs/arthistory10one/a/dada. htm Futurism (1909-1914). (n. d. ) Retrieved January 20, 2010, from http://www. huntfor. com/arthistory/C20th/futurism. htm McLaughlin, N. (n. d. ). Futurism art. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from http://virtualology. com/hallofartmovements/futurismart. com/ Order from stone: Nazi architecture. (n. d. ) Retrieved January 20, 2010, from http://sitemaker. umich. edu/artunderfascism/architecture Pioch, N. (2002, October). Futurism. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from http://www. ibiblio. org/wm/paint/glo/futurism/
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