Art 1001 Art Today
Content Outline

Some basic art concepts


Subject matter



representational (realism)
non-objective (no observation of an object in nature)

Use of color


emotional (feeling)
cerebral (thinking)

Organization of form (composition)



Use of materials


traditional (see below)/non-traditional



"feeling" of work
the artist's implied attitude toward subject



"advance guard" (of an army)
practically interchangeable with "progressive Modernism"
Form vs. Content
  formal qualities = what it looks like
content = what it means
analytic duality


Traditional art materials (media):








Painting = pigment (color) + vehicle (binder, medium)
watercolor (gouache - opaque)
acrylic (polymer medium)
encaustic (wax)



relief (woodcut, linocut
intaglio (steel plate)
serigraph (screenprinting)
lithography (traditionally, on stone slab; works on principle that oil and water don't mix)

Digital programs


2D output (two dimensional)
3D output (three dimensional)



low relief = bas-relief
high relief

subtractive = carving; stone, wood
additive = modeling; clay, wax (for bronze casting)
fabricated/fabrication = mechanical attachments; welding
manufactured = multiples, mass production
mixed media = found objects, mosaic, etc.

Applied art ("crafts" ) & design


earthenware = low temperature fire, needs glaze to hold water
stoneware = medium temperature fire, needs glaze hold water
porcelain = high temperature fire, no glaze needed

fibers = cloth, etc.

utilitarian = useful for some real-life purpose
non-utilitarian = an "art object" for looking at, like a painting

product design = furniture, cars, everyday objects
communication design/graphic design = posters, books, CD covers, TV etc.

Form vs. Content
  formal qualities = what it looks like
content = what it means
analytic duality


Prehistoric art
Pre-history = before written histories


no separate concept of "art"

integral to religious, social, daily events



Classical period
begins 4th century B.C.


Greek culture, imitated by Romans and others

development of humanism = co-existence with gods, not subservience to gods


"athlete of virtue" = beauty equals worth

source of inspiration to European cultures for centuries, to present day



Early Christian
ca. 200 A.D.


at first based on Classical models

develops new iconography (symbolic meanings)

loss of ancient Greek and Roman technical skills



Middle Ages
12th & 13th centuries


great cathedrals expressed unity of religion and daily life



14th & 15th centuries


Renaissance = "re-birth" (of Classical Greek and Roman skills and values)

Classical art and literature becomes "cool"

revival of humanism

revival of realism, anatomy

linear perspective developed

secular criteria for judgment of art

first art "academy"



late 16th & 17th centuries


more personal drama in subject matter

increasing emphasis on earthly detail

increasingly secular (Dutch)

Rococo = late Baroque style in France, playful, pretty, intimate



ca. 1800 - 1850

Jean-Auguste INGRES


influenced by the Enlightenment = experimental science (vs. faith in traditional wisdom), tolerance (vs. religious wars), equality (vs. aristocracy & slavery)

call to return to reason & morality in art

nature as a model of order and harmony

"serious" political themes, comparisons to ancient Greek and Roman history

reaction against "frivolous" Rococo style

enemies of the Romantics within the French Academy



ca. 1800 - 1850



cult of the individual; artist as smarter and more sensitive than everyday people

emphasis on powerful emotions

nature as violent, irrational, wild, chaotic, beautiful

fascination with ruins, ghost stories, true crime, tragic love

emphasis on color

enemies of the Neo-Classicists within the French Academy



Modernism Begins

c. 1850



Salon = official art show in Paris

emphasis on everyday, contemporary subjects

1855 Paris Exposition; Courbet shows his work at his own expense; rejects the Academy

Courbet the model for a "bohemian artist" = ultra-liberal politics, dresses and acts in unconventional way, doesn't care what conservative people think of him


"The act of painting can consist only in the representation of objects visible and tangible to the painter. An epoch can be reproduced only by its own artists."

ca. 1875 - 1900

Claude MONET, Edouard MANET, Edgar DEGAS


new interest in light & color

invention of tube paints, synthetic pigments & portable easels

"plein air" painting = painting outdoors

anti-romantic realism = urban middle-class leisure activities

influence of the then-new technology of photography

"painterly effects" = the brushwork is visible



ca. 1885 - 1900



new approaches to pictorial structure & color

beginnings of abstraction; influence of Japanese art

not an actual movement; named by Roger Fry (1910) as a grab-bag term


" Some advice: do not paint too much after nature. Art is an abstraction; derive this abstraction from nature while dreaming before it, and think more of the creation which will result. . . ."

van Gogh:
"I have tried to express the idea that the cafe is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad or commit a crime. . . all this in an atmosphere like a devil's furnace, of pale sulphur."

"My aim was to make Impressionism into something solid and enduring like the art of the museums." ". . . treat nature by the cylinder, the sphere, the cone, everything in proper perspective so that each side of an object or plane is directed towards a central point."

Maurice Denis :
"It is well to remember that a picture -- before being a battle horse, a nude woman, or some anecdote -- is essentially a plane surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order."

1900s - 1910s



Fauve = French for "wild animal"

wild use of color; breaking old, traditional rules of color

influence of van Gogh & Gauguin


"Expression to my way of thinking does not consist of the passion mirrored upon a human face or betrayed by a violent gesture. . . . What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which might be for every mental worker. . . something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue."

1900s - 1910s




emphasis on artist's subjective psychological response to subject

angst = German word for "anxiety" or "anguish"; the worrying sensation that something is wrong; philosophical term for the anxiety of having to make choices in the present about an unknown future

Die Brücke = "The Bridge" a group of Expressionist artists formed in Dresden, Germany including Kirchener


"Conscientious and exact imitation of nature does not create a work of art."

1900s - 1920s



Paris, France

Cubism = the artist breaks down the natural forms of the subjects into geometric shapes and creates a new kind of picture space

highly abstract

very influential; the "cool" "modern" artists loved Cubism; "old-fashioned" artists hated it

first phase: Analytic Cubism = breaking apart forms, neutral colors

second phase: Synthetic Cubism = collage, 2 phases: analytic and synthetic (collage); African influence


"When I paint my object is to show what I have found and not what I am looking for. In art intentions are not sufficient. . . ." "Art is a lie that makes us realize truth."

Harlem Renaissance



growing emergence of African-American identity and heritage in art, literature and culture

Henry Ossawa Tanner, painter - early role model, won Paris Salon award in 19th century

1921 Harlem Library Exhibition

"Jazz Age"

post-war northern migration (2 million move to north - Phila, Chicago, Boston Balt, San Fran); Harlem pop. tripled by early '20's

W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey (militant self assertion)

Aaron Douglas collaborates w/ Langston Hughes, contributes to Vanity Fair, studies at Albert Barnes Harmon Foundation encourages blacks in many fields

Augusta Savage runs Harlem WPA project




Charles DEMUTH, Charles SHEELER



combines U.S. subject matter with European Modernism

anticipates Photo-Realism







speed and technology as essence of modern life

Cubist influence

beginnings of "performance art" = artists performing live for an audience


F.T. Marinetti
"We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched with a new form of beauty, the beauty of speed."

Orphism (Orphic Cubism)




first non-objective (abstract) works

emphasis on color and movement


"What is of great importance to me is observation of the movement of colors." "Simultaneity in light is harmony, the rhythm of colors which creates the Vision of Man."

Der Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider)




Der Blaue Reiter = "Blue Rider" a group of Expressionist artists formed in Munich, Germany including Kandinsky, Marc, Klee

more abstract/non-objective branch of Expressionism

influenced by Theosophy = belief based on meditation and mystical insight into the nature of god and the soul; founded by Madame H.P. Blavatsky in 1875

color symbolism

analogy between art and music


"Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. . . It is evident that color harmony must rest ultimately on purposive playing upon the human soul. . . ."





politically-oriented non-objective movement

agit-prop = early Russian Communist term, from "agitation" (encouraging people to change social behavior) and "propaganda" (public education)

performance art


"In 1913, trying desperately to liberate art from the ballast of the representational world, I sought refuge in the form of the square." " To the Suprematist the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling, as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth."

De Stijl




socially-oriented non-objective movement

architecture, furniture designs

Oud: "Dutch Protestant iconoclasm"


"Cubism failed in its follow-through" "This attitude of the cubists to the representations of volume in space was contrary to my conception of abstraction which is based on belief that this very space has to be destroyed. . . . I think the destructive element is too much neglected in art." "The truly modern artist is aware of abstraction in an emotion of beauty; he is conscious of the fact that the emotion of beauty is cosmic, universal. This conscious recognition has for its corollary an abstract plasticism, for man adheres only to what is universal."

1st & 2nd decades U.S.

Alfred STIEGLITZ, Arthur DOVE, Georgia O'KEEFFE


New York

most avant-garde of the U.S. "moderns" (modern artists)

championed abstract, non-objective, European work

promotion of photography as equal art form



The "8" (Ashcan School)
1900s -1910s

Robert HENRI


early moderns

more conservative

contemporary subject matter; realism



The Armory Show


first large-scale modernist exhibition in U.S.; New

extremely influential

highly controversial; people loved it or hated it; Matisse burned in effigy

first shown in the 69th Regiment Armory, New York City; then shown in Chicago

idea born in 1911, Assn. of Am. Painters & Sculptors Arthur B. Davies, President

Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase



2nd decade



reaction to the horrors of World War I

began in neutral Switzerland, moved across Europe and America

anti-aesthetic, anti-rational movement

"readymade" = an object that already exists, the artist has found and noticed it, rather than made it

influence of Futurism

performance art; nonsense poetry, noise-music

ironic tone; angry humor


Jean Arp:
" . . . to destroy the rationalist swindle for man and incorporate him humbly again in nature."

Tristan Tzara:
"Dada is a state of mind." "It is more in the nature of a return to an almost Buddhist religion of indifference." "We have had enough of the intelligent movements that have stretched beyond measure our credulity in the benefits of science. What we want now is spontaneity. Not because it is better or more beautiful than anything else. But because everything that issues freely from ourselves, without the intervention of speculative ideas, represents us."

Kurt Schwitters:
"Art is a primordial concept, exalted as the Godhead, inexplicable as life, indefinable and without purpose."

Marcel Duchamp:
"Dada was very serviceable as a purgative"

Hannah Hoch:
"Our whole purpose was to integrate objects from the world of machines & industry into the world of art."

"American Scene" Painting (Regionalism)

Edward HOPPER, Thomas Hart BENTON


rejects European Modernism for realism & U.S. subjects


"I am interested not in subjectivity, but a new objectivity; not abstraction, but a reaffirmation of subject matter and specificity; not internationalism, but the American scene."

Social Realism



U.S., affiliated with international movement in arts

Depression era

committed to political subjects


WPA (Works Progress Administration) Art Project


Diego Rivera:
"I want to use my art as a weapon."




school for integration of fine arts, crafts, industrial design & architecture

"less is more" design ethic

Johannes Itten - basic courses

"bauhütte" - German medieval master mason's lodge

Kandinsky teaches in '20s

Gropius: painters provided a "spiritual counterpoint" to designers

Hitler shuts down school in 1933


"Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible."

1920s - 1930s



Russia, spread to Europe

outgrowth of Suprematism stressing technological application of materials and fabricated sculpture

emphasis on "space"


Naum Gabo:
"Volume of mass and volume of space are sculpturally not the same thing." "Neither Futurism nor Cubism has brought us what our time has expected of them."

'20's & '30's

Salvador DALI, Andre MASSON


Europe, spread to New York during WWII; Art of This Century exhibition 1942 in New York

dream symbolism

same spirit as Dada, but with a purpose: revolution

influenced by Freud's theory of the subconscious

1_realist (verist) surrealism = recognizable subject matter

2_abstract surrealism = non-objective

"automatic drawing" process

"exquisite corpse" = surrealist game

Dali, "paranoiac critical activity" imitating mental illness; anti-rational

influential on '60s artists, MTV


"Surrealism - Pure psychic automatism, by which it is intended to express. . . the real process of thought. Thought's dictation, in the absence of all control exercised by the reason and outside all aesthetic or moral preoccupations." "It is not a question of drawing, it is simply a question of tracing."

"For us, young surrealists of 1924, the great prostitute was reason."

'40's & '50's

gestural: Arshile GORKY, Jackson POLLOCK, Willem DE KOONING, Franz KLINE;
colorfield: Adolph GOTTLIEB, Mark ROTHKO, Barnett NEWMAN


New York

1_gestural style (brushstrokes)

2_color field style

influenced by Surrealist process

Dewey's Art As Experience ('34)

Carl Jung's theories of collective unconscious and archetypes


painterly brushwork

romantic emphasis on metaphysical content

asymmetric compositions with dramatic tonal or color contrast



Pollock becomes new kind of American art superstar


Jackson Pollock:
"On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting. . . . When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of "get acquainted" period that I see what I have been about. I have no fear about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well."

"It is our function as artists to make the spectator see the world our way -- not his way. . . . We favor the simple expression of the complex thought. . . . We assert that the subject is crucial and only that subject-matter is valid which is tragic and timeless. That is why we profess our spiritual kinship with primitive and archaic art."

Barnett Newman:
"We are reasserting man's natural desire for the exalted, for a concern with our relationship to the absolute emotions. We do not need the obsolete props of an outmoded and antiquated legend. . . . Instead of making cathedrals out of Christ, man or "life," we are making it out of ourselves, out of our own feelings."

Post-Painterly Abstraction

Morris LOUIS, Kenneth NOLAND, Frank STELLA
critic: Clement GREENBERG


embodied critic Clement Greenberg's theory of "self-definition"

non-illusionistic flatness - fusion of color & ground
(figure / ground relationship)

acrylic paint (new technology)

shaped canvas

1_stain painting style

2_hard-edge style


Clement Greenberg:
"The ultimate use of art is construed as being to provide the experience of aesthetic value, therefore, art is to be stripped down to this end. Hence modernist 'functionalism,' . . . the urge to purify the medium."

Kenneth Noland:
"We realized that you didn't have to assert yourself as a personality in order to be personally expressive. We felt that we could deal solely with esthetic issues, with the meaning of abstraction, without sacrificing individuality. . . . "

Frank Stella:
"All I want anyone to get out of my paintings, and all I ever get out of them, is the fact that you can see the whole idea without any confusion. . . . What you see is what you see. . . ."




use of mass-produced images and objects anticipates Pop Art

combine painting (collage, 2-D & assemblage, 3-D)

influence of John Cage (modernist musician)

encaustic (wax)


Jasper Johns:
"I am concerned with a thing's not being what it was, with its becoming something other than what it is, with any moment in which one identifies a thing precisely and with the slipping away of that moment. . . ."

Robert Rauschenberg:
"Painting relates to both art and life. Neither can be made. (I try to act in that gap between the two.)"

late 1950s



hybrid of art, theater & everyday
activity; highly symbolic


Pollock influence; Dada, Surrealist influence

life as art . . . happening



Pop Art
late 1950s, 1960s



U.K., U.S.

"ad- mass culture" in high art mode

consumer objects & processes


soft sculpture

often deadpan or "camp" tone


Richard Hamilton:
"Pop art is: popular(designed for a mass audience); transient(short- term solution); expendable (easily forgotten); low cost; mass produced; young (aimed at youth); witty; sexy; gimmicky; glamorous; big business"

Andy Warhol:
"The reason I'm painting this way is that I want to be a machine, and I feel that whatever I do and do machine-like is what I want to do."

Roy Lichtenstein:
"Instead of looking like a painting of a billboard. . . Pop Art seems to be the actual thing. It is an intensification, a stylistic intensification of the excitement which the subject matter has for me; but the style is. . . cool. . . .the techniques I use are not commercial, they only appear to be. . . ."

Claes Oldenburg:
". . . we are talking about making impersonality a style, which is what I think characterizes Pop art, as I understand it. . . ." "I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum. I am for an art that embroils itself with the everyday crap and still comes out on top."


Donald JUDD



"primary structures"

avoided hand-made & overt personality

extension of Post-Painterly self-definition

austere - without representational cues, what to do with it?

"gestalt " = any aspect of a thing that can serve as a perceptual whole and thus serve as a reference point in the processes of seeing and thinking


Donald Judd:
"Three dimensions are real space. That gets rid of the problem of illusionism . . . -- which is riddance of one of the most objectionable relics of European art. . . Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface."

late 1960's



renewed interest in A-E (Abstract Expressionist) process ideas

quirky "signature" materials

art world becoming more and more international



Conceptual Art
late 1960's, early 1970's



art as idea

artist as thinker, not maker


"documentation" of short-lived event

use of photography as documenting tool



Op Art

Bridget RILEY


"optical art"

interest in optical illusion

outgrowth of Post-Painterly movement



Bridget Riley:
"My paintings are, of course, concerned with generating visual sensation, but certainly not to the exclusion of emotion. One of my aims is that these two responses shall be experienced as one and the same."

Victor Vasarely:
"The screen is plane but, allowing motion, it is also space. It does not have two, but four dimensions."

late 1960's, early 1970's

Richard ESTES


camera-based realism


Richard Estes:
"A photo is not sufficiently an object (unified) "But the object, it comes from all the old tricks of the painter, the tricks of the trade. The way you compose and design and relate things to one another, all the devices you can use to unify the picture."

Body/Performance Art
late 1960's, 1970's

Joseph BEUYS


Beuys very influential teacher in Germany; translates his wartime experience into symbolic installations/performances

body activity art medium

influenced by Conceptual Art, Happenings


photo as documentation



Video Art
begins late 1960's

Nam June PAIK


high art prejudice against television

video as art medium

technology as a kind of "new nature"

integrating performance, music, installations & technology possibilities

1965 - Sony video portipak available; '70 - video synthesizer


Nam June Paik:
"My experimental TV is not always interesting but not always uninteresting like nature, which is beautiful, not because it changes beautifully, but simply because it changes."

Laurie Anderson:
"I really try to leave a lot of room and a lot of air so that people can draw their own conclusions. It's not that I don't have my own. . ., but it's the process I'm interested in. For example, a lot of the rhythms are created visually. The music is going, and the pictures are going. . . and that creates a kind of counterpoint between what you're seeing and what you're hearing, a kind of polyrthymic situation that you put together yourself."




manipulation of land as art

gallery mode

site-specific mode

photography as documentation

influence of minimalism; simple gestalt


Robert Smithson:
"...not putting a work of art on some land, but putting some land into a work of art."

Walter De Maria:
"The land is not the setting for the work but a part of the work"

Nancy Holt:
"Words and photographs of the work are memory traces, not art. At best, they are inducements for people to go and see the actual work."

Feminist Art



women's rights & issues

rejection of male-dominated, "boys club" modernist art establishment

"alternative spaces": A.I.R. Gallery & Womanspace



Pattern & Decoration
late 1970's



decorative arts in high art context

re-examination of decoration


some feminist issues included


"Women have always collected things and saved and recycled them because leftovers yielded nourishment in new forms. . . Women's culture is the framework for femmage, and makes it possible. . . to see these traditional aesthetic elements for what they are -- the natural materials needed for spiritual, and often physical, survival."



camera obscura -- 1500s

camera lucida -- early 1800s

Joseph Nicephore NIEPCE -- first "fixed" photo image
Jacques-Louis DAGUERRE -- Daguerreotype -- positive system
William Henry Fox TALBOT -- Calotype -- negative system

Pictorialism -- late 1800s -- Julia Margaret CAMERON -- "soft focus" effects

"F-64" -- early 20th c. -- Ansel ADAMS, Edward WESTON -- sharp focus, immaculate
technique & composition; purist "straight photography" approach

Surrealism -- 1920s -- Andre KERTESZ, Man RAY -- experimentation w/darkroom effects;

American Scene/Social Realism -- 1930s -- Walker EVANS, Dorothea LANGE -- documentation of Americana; Depression hardships FSA (Farm Services Administration)

Photojournalism -- 1940s -- Margaret BOURKE-WHITE -- tied to rise of large-format
photo magazines

"Beat Generation" -- 1950's -- Robert FRANK -- gritty, informal and iconoclastic view of
American life

1960's -- Diane ARBUS, Garry WINOGRAND -- focus on unconventional; informal style

1970's -- Judy DATER -- emergence of feminist approach; multi-media exploration; development of large-scale color formats



ca. 1980 - present


hotly debated label; no one agrees precisely

influence of communication media

dissatisfaction with "precious" Modernism

'70's pluralism recast -- interest in diversity, multiculturalism; no central focus

renewed interest in symbolism and narrative

"death of the avant-garde"




early 1980's

Keith HARING, Jean-Michel BASQUIAT


transformation of subculture popular form into high art

legal surfaces vs. illegal surfaces

"Wild Style" film and the spread of hip-hop culture

Times Square show


Keith Haring:
"Often when I am drawing in the subway in New York City an observer will patiently stand by and watch until I have finished drawing and then, quickly, as I attempt to walk away, will shout out, 'But what does it mean?' I usually answer: 'That's your part, I only do the drawings." "I think the contemporary artist has a responsibility to humanity to continue celebrating humanity and opposing the dehumanization of our culture. This doesn't mean that technology shouldn't be utilized by the artist, only that it should be at the service of humanity and not vice versa."




style revival revolving around German national themes

dealing with Holocaust guilt



U.S. Postmodern "Big 3"

Julian SCHNABEL, David SALLE, Robert LONGO


1980s boom in art prices

new level of art "superstar"; influence of Warhol's career

use of appropriation



Julian Schnabel:
"I want my life to be embedded in my work, crushed into my painting, like a pressed car. If it's not, my work is just some stuff. . . . "




sense of visual energy

active compositions, use of bright colors



"New Realism"



reactivation of realist formats for new examinations of social & political themes


Eric Fischl:
"I think what's going on in painting now is coming out of national identities. People have withdrawn into their own histories to try to find meanings. . . personal matters have broad implications. They refer to social. . . issues."

Leon Golub:
". . . they (mercenaries) arise out of the contemporary world as given to us by the media. . . . This is an American art. I think that a powerful society , generally speaking, has a powerful art. It reflects not necessarily the goals of the society but, rather, the society viewing its strengths, how successful it is and what it can get away with."


Jenny HOLZER, Barbara KRUGER


extension of Conceptual interest in language

non-traditional venues for artwork


Barbara Kruger:
"I'm interested in mixing the ingratiation of wishful thinking with the criticality of knowing better." "I have to say that the biggest influence on my work, on a visual and formal level, was my experience as a graphic designer. . . however, the use of words lent my work a kind of uncool explicitness."

"Staged Photos"



return to fabricated tableaux from 19th century photography

postmodern influence of media



Simulationism (Neo-Geo)



ironic and biting commentary on contemporary consumer society

mix of Pop and Dada

comments on "failure" of Modernism

Koons -- self-parody as art superstar


Peter Halley:
"These are paintings of prisons, walls and cells. Here, the idealist square becomes the prison. Geometry is revealed as confinement. The paintings are a critique of idealist modernism.. . . The misty space of Rothko is walled up. The 'stucco' texture is reminiscent of motel ceilings. The Day-Glo paint is a signifier of 'low budget mysticism.' It is the afterglow of radiation."

Jeff Koons:
"My work will use everything that it can to communicate. It will use any trick; it'll do anything -- absolutely anything -- to communicate and to win the viewer over."

1990's African-American Art



increasing visibility for African-Americans

wide variety of approaches

1994 "Black Male" exhibition at Whitney Museum



1990s Installations

Robert GOBER


significant 1990s trend away from painting (commodity art)

often social, identity issues explored