- Количество слайдов: 34
European and American Art: 1920 -1945
Neue Sachlichkeit • Because WWI was fought on European land, it affected European artists more deeply than American artists. • In Germany, WWI gave rise to an artistic movement called Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), comprised totally of artists who had at one point served in the German military. • Their military experiences deeply influenced their worldviews and informed their art. • Their aim was to present a clear-eyed, direct, and honest image of the war and its effects. • Associated artists: Grosz, Beckmann, and Dix.
Eclipse of the Sun George Grosz, 1926. Oil on canvas, 6’ 9” x 6’. Grosz • George Grosz, a former Dadaist, felt anger and horror at WWI. • Instead of depicting the war itself, here he has depicted what he felt were the two causes of the war: militarism and capitalism. • The German president Paul von Hindenburg is shown in his army uniform with war medals, his bloody sword laid on the table. On his head is the laurel wreath of victory. • Von Hindenburg presides over a meeting with four headless ministers – men who act on his orders without question. • Von Hindenburg is revealed to be a puppet leader, as a wealthy industrialist whispers instructions in his ear. • The gullible public is represented by the donkey wearing blinders, which eats news papers (metaphorically “swallows” the propaganda promoted by the government and business-friendly press). • In the upper left, a coin “eclipses” the sun, casting all into darkness. • In the lower right, a skeleton represents the casualties caused by capitalist greed.
Night Max Beckmann, 1918. Oil on canvas, 4’ 4” x 5’. Beckmann • Although initially a supporter of the war who enlisted in the army, Beckmann became disillusioned by the death and destruction that surrounded him. • His work emphasized the horrors of war and of a society that he saw descending into madness. • In this image, three intruders have forcefully invaded a cramped room. A bound woman in the foreground (apparently raped) is splayed across the foreground. Her husband appears on the left, being hanged by one of the intruders, while another dislocates his arm. On the right, another intruder prepares to flee with a kidnapped child. • Beckmann based the husband, wife, and child off of his own family. • The sharp, brusque style with harsh outlines emphasizes the brutality of the scene. Objects seem dislocated and contorted, and the space appears buckled and illogical. • Although the scene does not specifically focus on a war scene, the wrenching brutality and violence pervading the home are horrifying comments on society’s condition.
Der Krieg (The War) Otto Dix, 1929 -32. Oil/tempera on wood, 6’ 8” x 13’ 4”. Dix • Dix also grew disillusioned with the war and humanity during his time fighting. • In the left panel, soldiers march off to fight. • The center and right panels show the bloody carnage of battle set in an apocalyptic hellscape, where corpses are strewn on the ground, riddled with bullet holes. • Dix depicted himself as the ghostly soldier dragging a fellow soldier to safety. • Below, in a coffin-like bunker, soldiers sleep, or are perhaps dead. • Dix intentionally designed this work to resemble an altarpiece, such as the Isenheim Altarpiece. • However, Dix’s altarpiece lacks the sense of hope promised by the resurrection of Christ.
The Degenerate Art exhibition, July 16, 1937. Degenerate Art • Hitler, who was an aspiring artist himself, believed that realistic genre painting represented the height of Aryan art development. Anything that did not conform to that standard, he considered degenerate (immoral). • In 1937, he ordered his minister of propaganda, Josef Goebbels, to confiscate over 16, 000 “degenerate” artwork from artists and museums, and organize a show. • The Degenerate Art (“Entartete Kunst”) exhibition displayed 650 artworks by such artists as Beckmann, Dix, Ernst, Grosz, Kandinsky, Kirchner, Klee, Marc, and Nolde (even though Nolde was a member of the Nazi party). • The purpose of the show was to publically ridicule the artists. The show was visited by over a million viewers. • Hitler also ordered the organization of another exhibition, the Great German Art Exhibition, which ran concurrently and presented an array of Nazi-approved conservative art. • The persecution of the Nazi party had a drastically negative effect on German artists. Some, like Max Beckmann, fled the country, never to return. Kirchner responded by destroying all his woodblocks and burning many of his works, then committing suicide.
Surrealism • In 1924, with the publication in France of the First Surrealist Manifesto, Andre Breton founded the Surrealist movement, which was joined by many Dadaists. • The Surrealists attempted to express, through art, the world of dreams, the psyche the unconscious (Freud/Jung). • Surrealists believed dreams occurred at the level connecting all human consciousness, and could be the place where people could move beyond their environment’s constricting forces to re -engage with their inner self, which society had repressed. • Developed techniques such as automatic writing (spontaneous writing using free association) to tap into the unconscious. • Naturalistic Surrealism: artist presented recognizable scenes that seem to have metamorphosed into a dream or nightmare image. Examples: Dali, Magritte. • Biomorphic Surrealism: Artist used automatism (creation of art without conscious control) to create abstract compositions in which the imagery sometimes suggested natural forms. Example: Miró
De Chirico • An early precursor of Surrealism was Giorgio de Chirico, whose ambiguous paintings of cityscapes are examples of a movement called Pittura Metafisica (Metaphysical Painting). • Although he studied in Munich, de Chirico was an Italian painter, who spent the majority of his career in Italy. • De Chirico found hidden reality revealed through strange juxtapositions, such as those seen on late autumn afternoons, when the long shadows of the setting sun transformed vast open squares and silent public monuments into what the painter called “metaphysical towns. ” • Metaphysics – philosophical branch concerned with questions of existence, reality, objects and their properties, space and time, cause and effect, and possibility. • In Song of Love, de Chirico depicts the dreamlike piazza of an Italian town, deserted. A huge marble head (based on the Apollo Belvedere) hangs above a large green sphere, next to a red rubber glove. In the background, a locomotive puffs smoke • An eerie sense of foreboding permeates the scene, although none of the objects are dangerous or threatening in and of themselves. • De Chirico’s works were popular, and reproduced in periodicals, thereby influencing many Dadaists and Surrealists. The Song of Love Giorgio de Chirico, 1914. Oil on canvas, 2’ 5” x 1’ 11.
Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale Max Ernst, 1924. Oil on wood with wood construction. 2’ 3” x 1’ 10. Ernst • Max Ernst was a German Dada artist, who later joined the Surrealists. He also wrote poetry and unusual biographical notes (such as describing his birth as the day he emerged from an egg, lain by his mother in an eagle’s nest). • His art frequently incorporated found objects, as well as fragments of images from old books, magazines, and prints. • In this, work, Ernst challenged the Renaissance idea that the picture frame was like a “window” looking into a real scene. • He rendered some aspects realistically using linear perspective (such as the wall, bird, and distant city). • However, the sketch-like figures are depicted more loosely, and seem out of place in the realistic setting. • Furthermore, some aspects of the artwork are really three dimensional (gate, building in the foreground, knob), projecting into the viewer’s space. Even the painted area extends onto the frame at the edges. • Ernst painted the title (pulled from one of his own poems) onto the frame, forcing the viewer to think about the ambiguous connection between the words and the imagery.
Dalí Persistence of Memory Salvador Dalí, 1931. Oil on canvas, 9” x 1’ 1”. • The Spanish artist Salvador Dalí was primarily known for his paintings, but he also made sculptures, jewelry, and films. • He used what he called the “paranoiac critical method” to assist his creative process. • As he described it, in his painting he aimed to “materialize the images of concrete irrationality with the most imperialistic fury of precision… in order that the world of imagination and of concrete irrationality may be as objectively evident… as that of the exterior would of phenomenal reality. ” • In other words, he aimed to depict the imagery of fantasy and the psyche as realistically as possible. • In Persistence of Memory, Dalí created a haunting allegory of empty space where time has ended. • What is the feeling given by this landscape? • What unusual things do you notice? • Is this an example of Naturalistic or Biomorphic Surrealism?
The Treachery (or Perfidy) of Images Rene Magritte, 1929. Oil on canvas, 2’ x 3’ 1”. Magritte • Like Dalí, Magritte painted strange, dreamlike images using a precise, realistic style. • Originally from Belgium, he moved to Paris between 1926 and 1930 to be a part of Breton’s Surrealist group. • In 1929, Magritte published an essay in the Surrealist journal La Revolution Surrealiste in which he discussed the disjunction between objects, pictures of objects, and names of objects. • In The Treachery of Images, Magritte demonstrated what he attempted to explain in his article. He painted a highly realistic pipe, then beneath it wrote (in French) “this is not a pipe. ” • What did he mean?
Oppenheim • Meret Oppenheim was a Swiss-born artist who moved to Paris. She associated with the Surrealists, as well as other artists such as Picasso and Man Ray. • One day, during a conversation over tea with Picasso, she showed him a brass bracelet covered in fur that she had designed. He commented that “anything might be covered in fur. ” • Inspired, she created Object (also called Luncheon in Fur), a furcovered teacup, spoon, and saucer. • Object takes on an anthropomorphic quality, animated by the quirky combination of fur with a functional object. • The sculpture captures the Surrealist flair for mystical transformation, humor, and undertones of eroticism or sensuality. Object (Le Dejeuner en fourrure) Meret Oppenheim, 1936. Fur covered cup.
Miró • Joan Miró resisted being grouped with any art movement, but he is considered to be an example of Biomorphic Surrealism. • Miró used a special process to access the subconscious part of his mind. • He began his paintings by making a scattered collage of fragments cut from a catalog for machinery. The shapes of the collage became motifs the artist freely reshaped on the canvas to create silhouettes (solid or in outline). • “Rather than setting out to paint something, I begin painting and as I paint the picture begins to assert itself, or suggest itself under my brush. The form becomes a sign for a woman or bird as I work… The first stage is free, unconscious… The second stage is carefully calculated. ” - Miró • The finished product suggests a host of amoebic organisms, or constellations in outer space. • He finished by adding accents of bright white or color. Painting Joan Miró, 1933. Oil on canvas, 5’ 8” x 6’ 5”
Klee • Swiss-German artist Paul Klee sought clues to humanity’s deeper nature in primitive shapes and symbols, believing them to be evidence of Jung’s idea of a collective unconscious (he cited the use of symbols in “primitive” cultures). • “Formerly we used to represent things visible on earth, things we either liked to look at or would have liked to see. Today we reveal the reality that is behind visible things. ” - Klee • Klee’s process started typically by studying nature, especially in analyzing the processes of growth and change. He made diagrammatic sketches in notebooks of his studies. • Upon starting an image, he would allow the pencil or brush to lead him until an image emerged, to which he would then respond to complete the idea. • Twittering Machine shows bird-like symbols drawn in a childlike manner, perched upon a crank-driven mechanism, giving it an air of whimsy. • The small size of Klee’s work forces the viewer to draw close to examine it, creating a sense of intimacy between the viewer and the artwork. Twittering Machine Paul Klee, 1922. Watercolor and pen and ink on oil transfer drawing, on paper, mounted on cardboard. 2’ 1” x 1’ 7”
De Stijl Furniture by Rietveld • A group of designers and artists in the Netherlands, lead by Theo van Doesburg, formed a new movement in 1917 called De Stijl (the Style), named after the magazine they published. • In the wake of WWI, they felt art needed to be simplified to its fundamentals, to create a sense of order and spiritual unity. • “We demand the construction of our environment in accordance with creative laws based upon a fixed principle. These laws, following those of economics, mathematics, technique, sanitation, etc. , are leading to a new, plastic unity. ” • Attempted to create sense of order and spiritual unity by: - simplifying colors down to only primary colors (red, blue, yellow), black, and white. - Painting emphasized non-objective design using only basic shapes, such as the rectangle. - Clean, precise, straight lines.
Composition with Red, Blue, and Yellow. Piet Mondrian, 1930. Oil on canvas, 1’ 6” square. Broadway Boogie Woogie Mondrian • Piet Mondrian was one of the founding members of De Stijl. His referred to his theories about art Neoplasticism – the new pure plastic art. • “The natural surface of things is beautiful, but the imitation of it is without life… to approach the spiritual in art, one will make as little use as possible of reality, because reality is opposed to the spiritual…” - Mondrian • He believed that all great art had two goals: the attempt to create “universal beauty” and the desire for “aesthetic expression of oneself. ” The first goal is objective, the second is subjective, existing in the artist’s own heart/mind. • To achieve this, the artist must balance the individual with the universal. • Mondrian based his compositions, using the primary colors, plus white and black, on a grid. The color planes were locked into place with strong vertical and horizontal lines. • He strove to maintain a dynamic tension in his paintings using size, position, and color, rather than making everything perfectly symmetrical and balanced.
Schröder House Gerrit T. Rietveld, 1924. Utrecht, the Netherlands. Rietveld • Rietveld was an architect and furniture designer who incorporated the ideas of the De Stijl movement. • He believed in breaking up the basic cube structure of living spaces into flexible, varying parts. • To do this, he designed the second floor of the Schroder house (which included the common living spaces; bedrooms were downstairs) with moveable panels, so that inhabitants could close the panels to make separate rooms, or open them to make one large open room. • Similarly, the exterior of the building has a shifting quality, where railings, free-floating walls, and long rectangular windows give the effect of cubic units breaking up into parts. • As with Mondrian, Rietveld limited his colors to primaries and neutrals.
Organic Sculpture • Although much of the art of the 20 th century focused on the mechanization and growth of technology, not all did. • Artists such as Brancusi and Moore attempted to overcome the emphasis on mechanization by creating artwork that was organic and natural. The Kiss Brancusi
Brancusi • Romanian • Brancusi sought to move beyond surface appearances to capture the essence or spirit of the object depicted. • For Bird in Space, Brancusi had a long process. He started with the image of a bird at rest with its wings folded at its sides, and ended with a gently curving columnar form. • Although it is greatly abstracted, the form suggests a bird about to soar in free flight through the heavens. • The smoothly polished surface enhances the feeling of aerodynamics, implying the speed of a bird in flight. Bird in Space Constantin Brancusi, 1924. Bronze, 4’ 2” tall.
Henry Moore • The British artist Henry Moore admired Brancusi’s elimination of the surface decoration that had cluttered sculpture since the Gothic era. • His sculptures are abstracted, but still recognizable. • Moore placed a strong emphasis on negative spaces, or voids. Although the holes do not represent anything specific, they are nonetheless an integral part of the sculptures. • Moore also believed that each type of material has its own individual qualities, and that it was important to let the beauty of the material of a sculpture show through. • In Reclining Figure of 1939, the contours of the figure follow the pattern of the wood grain. • His reclining female figure represents a powerful earth mother, whose curving forms and hollows suggest nurturing energy. The undulations of her form resemble a hilly landscape, and the negative spaces are reminiscent of natural caves in the earth. Reclining Figure Henry Moore, 1939. Elm wood, 3’ 1” x 6’ 7” x 2’ 6”.
Lounge Chair Charles & Ray Eames Barcelona Chair Mies van der Rohe Wassily Chair Breuer Bauhaus • The Weimar School of Arts and Crafts in Germany was founded in 1906. In 1919, Walter Gropius became the director, and renamed the school Das Staatlich 3 Bauhaus (State School of Building). • Gropius’s goal was to train artists, architects, and designers to accept and anticipate 20 th-century needs, based on four principles put forth in the Bauhaus Manifesto. 1. Positive attitude to the living environment of vehicles and machines 2. The organic shaping o things in accordance with their own current laws, avoiding romantic embellishment/whimsy 3. Restriction of basic forms and colors to what is typical and universally intelligible 4. Simplicity in complexity, economy in the use of space, materials, time, and money. • He believed there was no distinction between artist and craftsman. As such, classes in “crafts” such as weaving, pottery, bookbinding, advertising, carpentry, and furniture design were offered, in addition to the “fine arts” like painting & sculpture. • Gropius emphasized thorough knowledge of machine-age technologies and materials, industry, and mass-production. • Marriage of art and industry.
Shop Block, Bauhaus Walter Gropius, 1925 -26. Dessau, Germany Gropius • After encountering increasing hostility from a new government elected in 1924, the Bauhaus moved north rom Weimar to Dessau in 1925. • The building Gropius designed for the new location in Dessau was the Bauhaus’s architectural manifesto. • The Dessau Bauhaus consisted of workshop and clas areas, a dining room, a theater, a gymnasium, a wing with studio apartments, and an enclosed two-story bridge housing administrative offices. • Of the major wings, the most dramatic was the Shop Block, a three story building that housed a printing shop, a dye works facility, and other work areas. • The Shop Block was built with a skeleton of reinforced concrete, set well back and shrouded in sheath of glass, creating a streamlined and light effect. • Consistent with the Manifesto, the Shop Block design avoided “all romantic embellishment and whimsy” while producing an “economy in the use of space” by allowing the interior of the building to be made of large areas of undivided space. • Gropius believed this open space layout enabled the interaction and sharing of ideas between artists.
Model for a glass skyscraper Mies van der Rohe, 1922. Barcelona Chair Seagram Building Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, 1956. New York. c Mies van der Rohe • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe took over the Bauhaus in 1928, after Gropius, and moved it to Berlin. • Believed “less is more, ” which he put to use in his skin and bones architecture. • His first model of a glass skyscraper, on display at the first Bauhaus exhibition, contained 3 irregularly shaped towers. The two cylindrical shafts contain elevators, stairways, and toilets. The transparent glass walls reveal the horizontal pattern of the floors and their thin support elements. • The illusion of movement was created by the reflections and changes of light on the glass surface. • Later in his career, Mies van der Rohe continued his “less is more” sleek glass aesthetic with the Seagram Building. • The lobby is set back into the building, giving the appearance that the building lifts off the ground on stilts. • The structural framework is hidden, leaving only the outer walls of glass (and the bronze strips which hold the glass in place). • The building is thin, with part of its property left as an open public plaza. • Amber glass and dark bronze convey sense of elegance, sophistication of company.
Le Corbusier • The Bauhaus was closed immediately when Hitler came to power, and its students/teachers scattered throughout Europe and to America, spreading the ideas of the school. • The simple, geometric aesthetic became known as International style, because of its international popularity. • Charles-Edouard Jeanneret adopted his maternal grandfather’s name: Le Corbusier. • Le Corbusier was a Swiss architect who believed functional living spaces were “machines for living, ” and that they should be based on the basic physical and psychological needs of every human: sun, space, and vegetation combined with controlled temperature, good ventilation, and insulation against undesired noise. • At Villa Savoye (VEE-lah SAH-vu-wah), a private residence, the garages, utility rooms, and bedrooms are enclosed downstairs. The roomier upstairs is comprised of living rooms (with strip windows to provide a view of the surroundings) wrapped around an open central court. A ramp leads up to a wind-sheltered rooftop garden. Villa Savoye Le Corbusier, 1929.
Le Corbusier • His later chapel Notre-Dame-du-Haut is a sculptural contrast to the rectilinear Villa Savoye. • Made of steel and mesh sprayed with concrete and painted white (except the roof, which he wanted to let darken naturally over time). • Lighting comes in through deeply recessed stained glass windows. • Roof seems to “miraculously float” above the worshippers (it is supported by a series of blocks), creating a sense of mystery. • Built upon the site of a pilgrimage church destroyed in WWII. • Although it seems monumental, it is in fact an intimately sized chapel (seating only 200 worshippers). • The shape of the roof was designed to evoke: 1. The shape of praying hands 2. The wings of a dove (representing both peace and the Holy Spirit) 3. The prow of a ship (the word “nave” is Latin for “ship”) • Le Corbusier hoped that in the mystical interior he created, and in the rolling hills around the church, men and women would reflect on the sacred and the natural. Notre-Dame-du-Haut Le Corbusier, 1950 -55. Ronchamp, France.
Mexican and American Art, 1930 -45 • The stock market crash of 1929 plunged the U. S. into the Great Depression. Many were out of work, including artists. The limited art market disappeared, and museums cut their exhibition schedules and purchases. • The strain was relieved somewhat by the Treasury Relief Art Project (founded in 1934 to commission art for federal buildings) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), founded in 1935 to relieve widespread unemployment. • Despite the poor economy, the U. S. became a haven for European artists seeking to escape from Hitler and the Nazis, including Leger, Beckmann, Grosz, Ernst, and Dali. • In the late 1930 s, museums began exhibiting the work of the persecuted artists driven from their homelands, as a showing of support for freedom and democracy. • Although many of the German artists returned home after the war, their influence on American modernism was significant. Migrant Mother Dorothea Lange, 1935. Gelatin silver print, 1’ 1” x 9”.
Hopper • Trained as a commercial artist. • Paintings depict buildings, streets, and landscapes that are muted and full of empty spaces, evoking the feelings of overwhelming loneliness and isolation of the Depression-era. • Although his paintings are thematically similar to the Realist paintings of the 19 th century, his simplified architectural shapes reflect the more modern move towards abstraction. • In Nighthawks, four figures sit inside a late night diner, visible through large plate-glass windows, which give the paradoxical sense of creating both a safe refuge and a vulnerable visibility from the outside. Nighthawks Edward Hopper, 1942. Oil on canvas, 2’ 6” x 4’ 8”.
American Gothic Grant Wood, 1930. Oil on beaverboard, 2’ 6” x 2’ 1”. The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere The Birthplace of Herbert Hoover Wood • Iowan artist Grant Wood lead a new movement developing in the Midwest, known as Regionalism (or American Scene Painting), which focused on rural American subjects depicted in an accessibly readable, Realist style (which appealed to those who were uneasy with abstraction). • In American Gothic, a farmer and his spinster daughter wearing simple, austere clothing and dour expressions, stand in front of their small but tidy house (featuring a Gothic lancet window). • Critics stated that it embodied strength, dignity, fortitude, resoluteness, integrity, and the true spirit of America. It showed the simple, hardworking people of the Midwest to be the backbone of a country struggling through the Depression. • However, some Iowans considered the depiction of life in their state insulting. • Another criticism against Wood’s style was that it had political undertones of staunch nationalism. Given the problematic attitude of nationalism in Germany at the time, many observers found Wood’s nationalistic attitude disturbing. • Wood’s paintings, though often sentimentally nostalgic, were accepted as a symbol of reassurance to a country struggling to cope.
Lange • In the 1930 s, the U. S. government initiated the Resettlement Administration (RA), later called the Farm Security Administration (FSA). • The RA oversaw emergency aid programs for farm families struggling to survive the Great Depression. The RA hired Dorothea Lange to document the deplorable living conditions of the rural poor in 1936. • At the end of an assignment photographing pea pickers in California, Lange stopped at a camp in Nipomo where the migrant workers were starving because the crops had frozen. • It was at the camp in Nipomo that Lange captured an image of strength mixed with worry in the weathered face of a mother. • Lange described the encounter: “I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction… There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her, and she seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. ” • Within days after Lange’s photograph appeared in a San Francisco newspaper, people rushed food to Nipomo to feed the hungry workers. Migrant Mother Dorothea Lange, 1935. Gelatin silver print, 1’ 1” x 9”.
Epic of American Civilization: Hispano-America (panel 16) Jose Clemente Orozco, 1932 -34. Fresco in Baker Memorial Library, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. Orozco • Between the two world wars, three Mexican painters (Orozco, Rivera, Kahlo) created a body of works (in both Mexico and the U. S. ) that focused on the indigenous history and culture existing in Mexico before the arrival of Europeans. • The movement these artists formed was part of the idealistic rethinking of society that occurred in conjunction with the Mexican Revolution (1910 -1920). • Orozco was commissioned by Dartmouth College to create a large mural cycle, of which he could choose the subject. • He designed 14 large panels and ten smaller ones which together form a panoramic and symbolic history of ancient and modern Mexico, beginning with the early Aztec mythology of Quetzalcoatl to modern times. • In this section, a heroic Mexican peasant is armed to participate in the Mexican Revolution. Around him are symbols of his oppressors – bankers, government soldiers, officials, gangsters, and the rich. • Money grubbers empty huge bags of coins at the incorruptible peasant’s feet, while a general raises a dagger to stab him.
Ancient Mexico by Diego Rivera, 1929 -35. Fresco, Palacio Nacional, Mexico City. Rivera • Diego Rivera was another Mexican artist revered for his murals. • He was a socialist who believed that the role of the artist was to create art for revolution, putting the interest of the worker first. • He was against non-objective art, stating “when [a painter] refuses to seek or accept a subject, his own plastic methods and his own aesthetic theories become his subject instead… [H]e himself becomes the subject of his work. He becomes nothing but an illustrator of his own state of mind. ” • Rivera’s murals feature large, clearly defined figures and bold colors that make the story easily legible, although the compositions are complex. • He produced a series of murals lining the staircase of the National Palace in Mexico City which depicted scenes from Mexico’s history, of which Ancient Mexico is one. This section represents the conflicts between the indigenous people and the Spanish colonizers. • Married to Frida Kahlo. • Commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller to paint a mural in Rockefeller Center, NYC. Although Rivera was paid in full, the mural was destroyed rather than unveiled because Rivera included a depiction of the communist Vladimir Lenin.
Kahlo • Although Frida Kahlo’s work has Surrealist undertones (and was in fact recognized by Breton as “Natural Surrealism”) she rejected any formal association with the Surrealists. • As a teenager, she was extremely injured in a bus accident (including broken spinal column, pelvis, ribs, crushed foot, 11 leg fractures, and an iron handrail piercing her abdomen). She began painting seriously as a means to pass the time while recovering in bed. Although she recovered, she continued to have extreme relapses of pain that left her bedridden. • She is known for her many self-portraits. “I paint myself because I am so often alone and it is the subject I know best. ” • An avowed Communist, her works are political & personal. • In Two Fridas, she depicted herself twice, once in European garb (left) and once in traditional Zapotec dress. The figures are connected by a thin vein between the hearts (a common motif in Aztec art). One end of the vein ends in surgical forceps, the other in a childhood picture of her husband, Diego Rivera. • This represents both her own heritage (Mexican mother, German father) and the struggle of identity of the country of Mexico between its indigenous roots and European invaders. • Monkeys were traditional symbol of lust, but she used them as symbols of protection as well. Two Fridas Frida Kahlo, 1939. Oil on canvas, 5’ 7” sq.
Calder • Alexander Calder was the son and grandson of sculptors, who initially studied mechanical engineering. • Fascinated by motion, he made an early sculpture that was a miniature circus, where each wire-based miniature performer moved to mimic a real circus. • After visiting Mondrian’s studio in the 1930 s, Calder began creating mobiles (named by Duchamp, who was intrigued by Calder's early motorized and hand-cranked examples of moving abstract pieces), comprised of nonobjective shapes of colorful aluminum suspended in motion from carefully balanced wires. • This new kind of sculpture succeeded in expressing the innate dynamism of the natural world. • In 1939, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in NYC commissioned Lobster Trap and Fish Tail to hang in the stairwell. • Calder carefully planned each non-mechanized mobile so any air current would set the parts moving to create a constantly shifting dance in space. Lobster Trap and Fish Tail, Alexander Calder, 1939. Painted sheet aluminum and steel wire, 8’ 6” x 9’ 6”.