Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Smarthistory - An overview of the period 1907-1960 - AP Art History Assignment

René Magritte, La Condition humaine, 1933

Next in our series of blasting through modernism is this installment from Smarthistory (please listen to their podcast-link in post title). It's a wonderful dialogue that echoed many things we have been referencing in class - the modeling of the figure, classicism, and the use of dark and light (chiaroscuro). Plus there are some of the ideas we talked about at the last DMA Late Night - exploring the the nature of color, reducing objects down to their simplest forms, and manipulating the viewer's eye and mind.

Ah, the glory of art!! I do love it so! The "isms" this post covers are Picasso (they talk about cubism, though do not feature a piece from that movement in this podcast), surrealism and and "Neo-Plasticism" (a term Mondrian termed to characterize a non-representational form that consisted of a grid of vertical and horizontal black lines with the use of the three primary colors). Enjoy the ride, mis niños!


Anonymous said...

The contrast in this picture is amazing and the lines are very distinct. The focal point in this piece is the window and it looks like a little more effort was put into it than the rest of the piece

-CA 7-3

Laura said...

Their discussion was very stimulating because they brought up things that I would never have thought of on my own. One thing that was striking to me was their whole discussion of Broadway Boogie Woogie and how they tie it into a bigger idea of relationship to fundamentals. They said that it was going back to classicism because it was simple. The thought that the simplicity of the shapes in the Mondrian piece can be related to Giotto's paintings, and such, blew my mind for a second. But it makes sense. The body is a combination of shapes and everything is made up of very simple shapes (squares and circles - Leonardo's Vitruvian man) and that is what the greats used to get their figures to be so realistic. And Mondrian's abstraction is a sort of deconstruction of the world to see the basics. They are both related even if at first you don't see the connection.

AJ Capleton said...

I particularly enjoyed the video of the art during 1907-1960. I was especially surprised by the non-cubism piece by Picasso. His style in this painting is said to be that of Neo-Classicism, as he copies Giotto's use of monumental figures. My favorite piece is the Human Condition by René Magritte. He creates an illusion of reality on a two-dimensional plane. At first glance, the piece actually looks as if there is just a scene of an open window with a tripod. The piece is very realistic as he depicts the painting of a painting. I wasn't fond of the third abstract geometric piece.

Anonymous said...

The piece by Picasso was very interesting because it is so different from his other works. It calls to mind the chiaroscuro of Da Vinci. It also reminds me of the three muses in Botticelli's Primavera.

The Magritte piece reminds me of Escher in the way the painting seems to be the view outside. I though of the "This is not a pipe" art piece, since it is a landscape that is not a landscape. I does call to mind the skill of the artist, as they were talking about.

The third piece looks, to me, like a circuit board. Possibly mixed with a map of the underground. Or possibly an old version of Pac Man. I'm not very fond of it. I do like the right angles though, because I enjoy mathematical correctness. However, while I like perfection in everyday things, I personally do not enjoy the precision in art.


rosaura said...

I think I can live with the Picasso piece and I was a bit taken aback by the fact that they were women because at first glance I honestly thought that they were men. This is different from what I've seen from Picasso because when I see his work I see definite figures, squares and cubes, and I like how they compare this piece to classical art especially to Leonardo because I kind of do agree with them, and it makes it seem as of there is still something left of the classics before it becomes consumed by all the modern stuff.

I like the Magritte piece due to the world background that it was painted in. They state that Fascism and depression were being laid out on the world stage and here is this painting that seems almost calm and dreamlike, as stated by them. So the fact that something this soothing was made at a dark period in the world is quite nice.

I definitely did not like the Mondrian piece. As opposed to the Picasso piece which seems to still hold some of the classical aesthetics from the masters, this piece completely throws them out of the window to me and reminds me why I have an extreme dislike towards the majority of modern art.

Theo said...

This painting is AMAZING. It shows an almost perfect transition between the colors and contrast of the fore- and background. You lose sight of the canvas as you think you are gazing through a window. Then you realize the landscape has been replicated almost exactly. A captivating composition.

Theo Adama
1st period

Elliese said...

Ah! This painting likes to play with your mind and sight! I remember you have another painting like this one in your room.

Well, these kinds of paintings puzzle me. Colors, contrast, and unity! They all come together to make the "outside" fool us.

Wait a minute! Oh my goodness! I knew the three legs couldn't of held a painting as big as the window! I can now see the outline of the painting. That is why Rene Magritte angled the painting that way! The angle shows form... kind of...

But, I don't really like the colors. It makes everything look very dry and faded, but it still looks real.

Samuel said...

This artwork is very stimulating to me. I like the image of the painting within the painting. It is portrayed so flawlessly in the picture it took me a few seconds to fully understand what I was seeing.

Samuel Fernandez
4th Period

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed how the artist placed the tripod underneath the window, it gave me a feeling like she was trying to say that real life is the best art.

-- sumner ingram
Period 2

Alex J. 1st Period said...

I like this picture very much. I like the simplicity of it. The scenery outside of the window gives the illusion of space as it looks like the scenery extends on and on.The three little post inside the room in front of the window seem kind of odd, but when I try to imagine the picture without them it seems off.Thye little post seem to add a balance to the picture. All in all I like the picture because of its simple brilliance.

Alex J. said...

hmmm. After taking a second look at this picture, I realize tha perhaps it is not a window but a painting. Beacuse the outside is emphasized, it looks like a window but i now think the post are holding up the painting.

Sarah (CA 8-3) said...

This photo is so cool! I love the movement and how your eyes just have to look around to understand. It really makes you think. The lines make the "window" really show. Very nice!

-Sarah P (CA 8-3)

Alan Sullivan said...

This is one of my favorite pictures. It has a lot of meaning to it. The contrast when looking out of the window is very beautiful. The way the artist intensifies the lines is another reason why this painting is one of my favorites. The way I take this painting is talking about how art can some times represent what happens in the real world.

Emily Ramsey said...

I really liked the video. I learned a lot about Picasso, especially that he did not only paint in the cubist style. The first piece chosen was so different from everything that I have ever seen from Picasso, and seeing the differences was stimulating. I really liked how they pointed out the figure poses and the use of light and dark, connecting it to artists of the earlier days. The second piece was by far my favorite. It really made you wonder if it was an actual window or if the three legs were holding up the canvas with a window painted on it. I really enjoyed the conversation about dreams and artwork. I never really thought about the two being connected. These videos really help me see new ways to view art.

Benny Renard said...

I have always loved this painting about the human condition. I love the nature in the piece, how the colors fade out in the distance, how you can tell by the disruption of the white space that something is wrong--that everything is not how it seems. The artist excellently shifts the painting vs. window frame to the left a tad bit, further clarifying that the painting is covering something up. Then, the slight contrast between the light sky and the darker totem-looking thing poking out over the top of the canvas-in-the-painting that is blurred by distance makes the viewer almost certain that something is being covered up--the human condition. I enjoy how the artist uses the piece as a conduit through which people can connect with a piece of his/her ideas. I especially like this latter part, that the artist shows his/her opinions with the work. I greatly enjoy this particular expression of this particular artist's transmitted via a medium of (canvas?) and love seeing it here. Hope everyone else enjoyed it as well!

~Benny Renard~
(I'll send this twice to make sure it gets in. Please delete any duplicates if they occur)

Paula Conway said...

I'm in love with Picasso's art. I hadn't seen one that wasn't under a cubism type presentation. This painting was very... renaissance based.

I like the way as the years go on, i can begin to tell the newer type painting from the older, more... portraiture paintings.

As we progress today, our paintings become more... abstract than before. Picasso's painting reminds me of some of Da Vinci's work.

Magritte goes in a completely diferent direction than Pablo Picasso. Magritte doesn't use cubism, but Picasso is known for it.

Mondrian's painting seems like it is the most modern of them all. Most of this time period's paintings are more to do with emotion than reality.

All in all these paintins are amazing. I think we can identify better with these paintings, but we all may not much care for thses as much as earlier paintings.

Ivana said...

In the video I learned alot about Picasso and his different techniques and styles. This particular piece was very interesting. At first I thought it was a painting of an open window with the scene in the background. It was very realistic and confused me as his other pieces did as well.

Glendon Plumton said...

The Picasso piece is, in my opinion, from one of his better periods. It has more influence from neoclassical and renaissance art than his cubist pieces. Its interesting how it combines some of the western classical traditions with nonwestern traditions.

The René Magritte is interesting in how it shows a painting of a painting. I have to wonder exactly what Magritte intended it to mean, because most of the time, the viewer’s interpretation is going to be different from what the artist intended. This one is nice in that it prompts us to think about what reality is, and if our own perception of reality is as artificial as our depictions of reality.

The Mondrian piece is from his period after he stopped making art. At this point, he was making works that are literally indistinguishable from something I could cobble together in 10 minutes with a random number generator and Microsoft Paint. I have trouble buying the “reduced form” idea, because he’s reduced it to well beyond anything that can be remotely recognized. Once it’s been reduced beyond having any meaning, than no matter how much art critics talk about its meaning and the profound message that he showed, they are just imposing their own psychological construct, on something that has been proven to be indistinguishable from randomly generated pictures*, and no skill or ability is required from Mondrian to provide this slate for other people to interpret in their own manner.

*Article about Mondrian’s debunking is here, along with the real/false Mondrian quiz can be found here:

Katrina said...

My favorite piece from the 3 was Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie because it was the most interesting and pleasurable for me to view. The fact that his piece could represent many aspects of his experience in New York simultaneously is very intriguing.

I personally find illusionist painting very interesting when it is sincere, but the Dutch artists who created The Human Condition was actually bringing light to the faults of illusionist painting. I thought his piece was boring compositionally and more intellectual than artistic.

I liked Picasso's piece but did not love it. Aesthetically, I found it to be more impressive than many of his cubist pieces. I like the theory that he was just plying with representation and modeling in this piece and that the composition might reflect the three muses. These interpretations are interesting. Stylistically, I like that this piece incorporates many "ism"s.

Anonymous said...

I find the connection made between Picasso’s Three Women at the Spring to Leonardo da Vinci interesting. During the Renaissance da Vinci argued that painting was superior to sculpture, for the painter had to create solid, modeled forms on a two-dimensional surface. In this painting, Picasso, diverging from his Cubist style, was able to depict heavy forms that are made lifelike with his use of light and shadow, characteristics that are drawn from Classical art.

Both Maginette, the surrealist painter, and Picasso play with the Western traditions of art to depict an illusionist reality on canvas. Maginette paints a painting that is a perfect replica of the landscape that is seen through the window. The landscape exhibits the Renaissance characteristics of receding space, atmospheric perspective, and one of the Roman painting traditions of the view from a window. The use of these Classical traditions does not overpower the artist’s own style, however. The painting set against the landscape fools they. This surrealist feeling evokes emotion from the viewer.

Mondrian’s use of squares and rectangles of varying sizes and primary colors in Broadway Boogie-Woogie create an aerial view of a grid-like design. At first glance I only saw a grid, but after a few seconds the pure unmixed dabs of color, laying side by side, created an image of blurred city lights and static movement.

-Bianca Medina

Miguel AKA Your Royal Freshness said...

The René Magritte piece is interesting it blends the background and foreground almost perfectly and has a painting in a painting i think thats interesting. Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie it can represent alot of things he experienced in New York so its cool and the most fun to look at.

jackie said...

I thought the video was great.
I remembered picasso's piece and was glad to hear more on it. It really helped to explain some cubist concepts, such as the portrayal of subjects.
The Magritte piece was so cool! I liked the trickery of it, as well as the message of art being the "human condition".
Broadway Boogie-Woogie was interesting, too, as it discussed modernism, and how the idea of exploring the pure means of art, and the formal properties of the medium itself feels classical-- Greeks explored pure geometry, elemental forms, elemental ideas, and also had interest in simplicity and fundamentals.

Kelcey said...

The narrators' discussions on these art works are very stimulating and keep me entertained and wondering things that wouldnt come to mind when looking at these paintings. Picasso's Three Women at the Spring, was pretty interesting, to say the least. Picasso's physical depiction of the women as big and bulky make them look more like scupltures than actualy paintings. Renee Magritte's the Human Condition is not as great in my opinion. I like these kind of landscape paintings but at first glance, its not as stimulating as some of the paintings we've seen that come from past styles and movements, but i guess thats just me. In a way, i did enjoy Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie mainly for its whole different perspective. I can see how it resembles the city lights and its restless motion. The simplicity this work carries and Mondrian's use of primary colors does not make me fond of the art, but it got my attention.

Desiree said...

During the video I loved how they described the different types of art during the period of 1907 -1960. This is probably one of my faviorite pieces as well because its confusing. When I first looked at it I didn't know if it was a painting or an actaul view.