Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

16: Europe and North America during the Modernist Revolution of 1904-1914

  • Page ID
    219619
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    Introduction

    Paris had established itself as the center of the Western Art world for quite some time by the beginning of the 20th century, and two artists were gaining much attention. Henri Matisse and the Spaniard, Pablo Picasso, were competing with one another for attention and influence. Western patrons like Gertrude and Leo Stein financially supported artists like Picasso and helped young artists establish a following. However, with the radical painting Les Demoiselles da Avignon, Picasso alienated many of his admirers. The painting is so shocking it abandons all previous art conventions and establishes a new order and direction for art. It destroys the past and moves ahead in uncharted waters.

    Influential concepts put forth in the Modernist Revolution will arise from the influential Bauhaus school in Germany. A house for building, as the German name suggests, will push concepts such as Form follows Function and Less is More, both vital ideas in the Modernist Movement. Abstraction ties into the concept of Less is More in that it can be a process of elimination and simplification. Less certainly can be more in visual art, however less can also leave the viewer wanting more in what appears to be an overly simplifies or unfinished work. This will become the grey area and struggle for many artists and designers in the years to come.

    clipboard_e242f58d3151c7fdcabb622bc1e30b112.png

    Mountains at Collioure, 1905 André Derain

    André Derain continued to explore flattening of the space represented on the canvas in paintings like the Mountains at Collioure. The bold brushstrokes and the application of adjacent complementary colors used by Van Gogh is pushed even further in these new works. We also see the popular Art Nouveau style coming through in the organic lines. The color saturation is pushed to the limits and was disconcerting to the salon critiques who compared the group of artists, including Matisse, as acting like fauve (the French word for wild beasts). The term has remained attached to the work and artists from this time and they are referred to as the Fauvists with the art style termed Fauvism.

    16: Europe and North America during the Modernist Revolution of 1904-1914

    Matisse 3 copy.jpg

    As we reflect on art in history, understand that paintings by artists like Vincent Van Gogh were not always accessible in their time. Matisse was unaware of Van Gogh's paintings until he was introduced to them by van Gogh's friend, and fellow painter, John Peter Russell. Seeing the color palette, joy, and energy expressed in Van Gogh's work inspired and encouraged Matisse to explore his own direction. This took courage from a man who was rejected and scorned for his lack of artistic abilities. Artists like Matisse were considered outsiders in the inner circles of the established art world by successful artists such as Bouguereau. For some modern painters we study today, creating successful visual art did not come easily. These artists struggled, yet persisted, in creating and advancing the techniques and approaches to visual art. How many influencial modern artists were rejected by the prestigious art schools and programs of their day? Matisse was one of those artists who was challenged by the rigors of academic art training, and considered the training too restrictive. He left the Académie Julian and was initially rejected by the the École des Beaux-Arts, but, by 1886, was elected as associate member of the Sociéte Nationale, enabling his paintings to be displayed at he salon.

    Matisse discarded traditional ways of representing space and depth and experimented more with shapes and color interactions, simplification, and abstraction. In the painting Joy of Life, we see Matisse experience freedom in the placement of figures, include aspects of Art Nouveau's curvilinear forms, and distill painting down to the essence of the art elements of line, texture, color and shapes. The painting is flattened by the elimination of a recognizable light source and the use of the same color intensities of hue and value running from foreground to background. A more traditional approach to the subject is shown below demonstrating what the painting would look like with a light source (backlighting coming from the opening in the trees), the figures in a more natural size and scale, and shadows.

    Matisse 2 copy.jpg

    clipboard_e61627b565604c2ca399b58d90f906c55.png

    clipboard_e187794bfde21d9d53acd5f73c69fe3b6.png clipboard_e5aa09eca6a67950afdd21cc352a05768.png

    The influence on contemporary concept designers, animators, and artists can be seen in the opening credits for the animation Monsters, Inc. We see Matisse's Red Studio reflected in the animated door sequence. Paying homage to the artists who created paintings, sculpture, and architecture in earlier art periods is an important link to the past that artists often employ. Although often recognized by the discerning few, it helps to reinforce the Renaissance idea that art is meant for the educated. Of course, art can be appreciated by any viewer who takes the time to look and see the work.

    clipboard_e031185e55833a3cabeacc528ffdf07e8.png

    clipboard_e0f466de8e26099cb62a7261e9f08e4cb.png

    clipboard_e56fdeae55ddf141dd24074aad667f423.png

    clipboard_e5ec48f7082197f9e251dc7297ae16c78.png

    clipboard_ed8344ba699d2bcaea7e9e5cc63df2248.png

    clipboard_e3bc4aa7476f3630a6e85be438a04285a.png

    clipboard_e004f18f8e3a327adcd72808ce0ec99b5.png

    clipboard_e14add1f6e82eceaa5f43a5c033879734.png

    clipboard_e7adf0051a34ecd89ab11c1c91ce95dd5.png

    clipboard_ead06a1c382325fb40c67f70b7dc78956.png

    clipboard_ead0ad3da5bdecf11cea58fcfb93eb1f6.png clipboard_ee4c68792c0d0a024565812fdc6c139d8.png

    clipboard_ee6280d7fbea9a2f469f9d44b808f2d64.png

    clipboard_e856bf736e35add9e67e6505ae05c9399.png

    clipboard_e8e1477744270c9091a29eab799bace0a.png

    clipboard_e6cb66ca760eb75ffca9b769ef09b785e.png

    clipboard_e015a41aca054b7903d9bdce9a4fabbb0.png

    clipboard_ec395c74ed3839c0e0135a9982aaa15c5.png

    clipboard_e46681db10113ad376ca2b4a39d282395.png

    clipboard_e1f7dc3a400609fc8898c175fff9510cb.png

    clipboard_ebd834cd89f2636466a91512fcaba2690.png

    clipboard_eed8caf110e40789faa20a7fd4bd14077.png

    clipboard_e230ffa7ca6072588986469bb2ecb4c2f.png

    clipboard_e81ea9ba37657a74a180408a90cfebd6a.png

    clipboard_e5d7f857f4ddfc646fd76d04d0414326f.png

    clipboard_e272df880cf9a3ea8ec71954ba02aa337.png

    clipboard_e660e75f8c1e5d9efe1aa576284deed6b.png

    clipboard_e9978aac32bd0b08145bbc3bff365e1db.png clipboard_efafcd282d9b398ee21364a05892427ae.png

    clipboard_e393d27f3afff824ac00bed665bc72934.png

    clipboard_eae8411de52d0b83abd0dbbaa4049d0d8.png clipboard_e3eadf33c37d7a2597a66187a8b1e7d21.png

    Brancusi (1909) Rodin (1889)

    Rodin represents the physical passions of an embrace. The emotions and desires of both male and female are on display. The fact that they are nude adds to the universal message (clothing would place it both in time and place). Brancusi, on the other hand, gives us a “PG” version. It represents the idea of love through a kiss and embrace. This is further enhanced by one stone used to carve the two figures (monolithic mass). This is more abstract in concept and execution.

    Both sculptures are art: same subjects, with very different meanings.

    clipboard_e0c367e10f80feb7ca6af23060a94c40d.png clipboard_ea53e495897bed50a52619c655fa3efd5.png

    clipboard_e623794178cedb35c16a64f309df6ebe4.png

    clipboard_e82e3d04628d8bcd51f9382b4601233d0.png


    16: Europe and North America during the Modernist Revolution of 1904-1914 is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

    • Was this article helpful?