Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Art defining man's nature and itself

Back for a new month and I have been so busy listening to audio courses over the internet, I have forgotten all about the blog.  Well I have decided to add another post today on a lovely lecture, which I have listened to for the 10th time.  This particular lecture is "lecture 5 art and the Post-War "Crisis of Meaning"".  The lecture is from the course called "Interpreting the 20th Century: The Struggle over Democracy".

Professor Pamela Radcliff
The course has been around for some time, but it’s still available off The Teaching company’s website.  It is taught by Professor Pamela Radcliff.  So then, why do I listen to this particular lecture so many times? even though there are 48 lectures in the course.  Do not get me wrong, I do listen to some of the other lectures, but this one grabs my attention for a number of reasons.  Basically I am interested how high art and culture affects and inspires society. The other reasons are that this lecture is highly informative on some of the major art movements after the turn of the war.  Within this lecture it discusses Dadaism, Surrealism and futurism art movements.

To be honest, art analysis can be difficult to understand, so the next reason why I replay this lecture is that some notes are not so easy to take in, but it’s worth the time because understanding art makes you understand the period or time the art was set.  This then lends to your cultural understanding of artist movements.

So then? What are these art movements and why were they formed?  You might have noticed that I mentioned these art movements sprung up after the Great War or World War I.  If there was high culture influencing nationalism, imperialism and man's reason to fight, then after a devastating war, there must be a counter culture.  These were some of the movements. 

The first being Dada or Dadaism.  Its main point was to state that everything means nothing, I mean everything is nonsense.  Do not try to even bother to understand or interpret dada because you will be sucked into meaningless confusion.  Dada was a criticism of the rationality that drove the great nations to war. It was an attack on colonisation and superiority over others.  Aimed at the masses, Dada hoped to push its message across that everything is meaningless.

Dadaist Art
Next we move on to another big art movement called Surrealism, which actually came out of a mix of Dadaism.  Surrealism relied heavily on producing art which seems to come out of someone’s dreams.  It looks so real, but then the art is odd, what the art defines cannot possibly exist and yet it is right before us in its representation.  No more do we have art representing the landscape, the trees or portraits, no much pictures representing religion.  We now have art representing the impossible, the imaginative the sublime.  Surrealism lent itself not only to art, but also the philosophical theories, to literature and films. If you want to look into surrealist art then Salvador Dali is a good start, but there are many others.

Gala and the Tigers, Surrealist art
Next we move onto the last of the major art movements after the Great War and this would be the futurist movement or futurism.  The main point of this movement was the look towards the future.  Futurists are sick and tired of anything old. The old art is slow, distant and boring.  Now we get art that emphasis speed, technology and most of all the future.  Pamela gives a great example of how futurists see themselves, she gives an example of a person getting into a car and driving off, but futurists see themselves moulding with the car. The see the car as something completely different, they see movement as a potential for violence. 

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space
Every so often I tend to visit the Tate modern museum and up on the top floor you will see pop art and the famous “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space" by Umberto Boccioni.  Notice that even though the art is still, it defines speed and movement. You can just imaging the human moving at great speed.

One thing to notice about these movements is that they lend themselves to the Postmodern tradition.  It can be very hard to work out what the actual paintings, sculptures or designs mean.  The representation is all over the place and that’s the way these artists like it. This is one defining feature of Postmodernism, which is a critic of modernism. Or a critic of what came before it.

If you ever get hold of this course, you will enjoy this lecture.  Pamela's lecture style isn’t too exciting, but she makes up for it in sheer detail and information, which is why I come back again and again.

1 comment:

  1. My God Mat - you have surprised me buddy - you really know your stuff!!!!

    Do I have to call you sir now? HA!

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