Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Modernity and Modernism: An introduction

Lecture 1

Modernity and Modernism: An Introduction

Modernity-Industrialization, Urbanization – the City
Modern Artists responses to the City
(Artists first started to document the new world around them)
Psychology and subjective experience
Modern Art and Photography
Modernism in design

John Ruskin (1819-1900) first collected and documented artist work, this was called Modern Painter, 1850. Artists who painted modernity where known as ‘moderns’.

The New Woman
Spanish Pavilion
Paris International Exhibition, 1937

Showed new ideals such as equal rights for woman, a new more practical dress sense, a reflection of the new workingwoman.

Tate Modern- hosts all progressive and new art.

Modern- a positive thought, it was progressive, optimistic, improving. There was faith in new technologies.

15, July 1972, 3:32pm
Charles Jencks pronounces the death of modernism when the Pruitt Igoe Development, St Louis is demolished.
This building was supposed to house all the poorer people of the city and tackle crime, but instead in almost became ghetto like and so it really hadn’t solved its problem, and this shows that modern wasn’t always an improvement.

Paris 1900
The most modern city in the world.
Hosted exhibitions of modernity against the British version, they competed for superiority.
This is the emergence of modernity in the city.

People’s lives became very contrasting in compared to their ancestors, for example;
Industrial/ factory work became dominant to agricultural work, farming- Industrialisation
People began to congregate and move to the city, instead of a rural lifestyle- Urbanisation
Time was measured by shift work, rather than sunrise and sunset, it became more regulated.
New inventions;
Railways meant faster travel; you could get to other cities in hours, instead of days.
Telephone meant that people could instantly talk to each other from miles away, a much faster way of communicating.
Also a new concept developed of time when the railways had to standardize a world time.
And then the invention of motorcars, later on into the era.

The world was shrinking in its distance and unfamiliarity. There where rapid changes and developments.

Leisure time also became a new concept, people where now enjoying the cinema, music and shopping, in grand arcades and galleries.
Hyde Park Picture House is evidence of these new leisurely activities that emerged in the modern world.

Enlightenment- late C18th
Scientific and philosophical ideals became more realistic and ideal, people where turning away from superstition and religion- Secularisation.

The City
The Eiffel Tower is a very big indication of the new modern world. It was very industrial in appearance; new materials made it possible e.g. new metals. It was heavily influenced by industry.

Artists were the first to document Modernity, a new style of life and pace.

Impressionists such as Caillebotte began to capture the experience of the city.

The painting below depicts a sense of being amongst more people but being more alone. 

Caillebotte, Paris A Rainy Day, 1877

Old Parisian Architecture was demolished. This had consisted of narrow streets and run down housing, crime had become rife.
Large Boulevards and wide streets where built in place.
This not only accommodated modern life, but it became much easier to police.
However the working class found this a struggle, as it became more expensive, they where pushed further out of the city.

This brought about increased affluence, but divided social classes even further.
There was also a bigger sense of alienation, and not knowing your neighbour unlike before in small rural towns where people would know each other. This has been depicted below:

There was a bigger notion of fashion too. It showed the strangers of the city who you where and what you where about, wealthier people used to dress up and walk around the city showing their status they where known as a Flanuer.
Again depicted by Caillebotte

Caillebotte, Le Pont de L'Europe, 1876

Leisure time also became a new interest of painters, they depicted modernity.

Seurat used a new technique known as pointillism. This was influenced by new scientific discoveries in the area of optics. Seurat used small dots of colour that when looked at as a whole created the bigger picture, this could also be a metaphor for modernity itself.

Seurat, Isle de la Grande Jatte, 1886
 Degas painted a darker scene, the negative effects of modernity.

Degas, Absinthe Drinker, 1876
This painting focused on the psychology of modernity, and reflected upon people who had been left behind the modern world. Struggling to cope they would drink away there sorrows.
The drink itself, absinthe was also drunk by many artists who claimed it made their mind and painting psycho active.
The composition of this painting reflects a modern technique, where the table is cropped out of the image almost like a photograph. It is unlike a classic painting where all the contents of the image are inside the painting.

1883 Kaiserpanorama, Germany
A large communal viewing device. The audience would pay a fee and then would watch slides of things such as Art, Landscapes and even Erotica.
People where now viewing the world in a more mediated way, instead of experiencing it for themselves. This perhaps is the start of things we now know such as television and the Internet. 

Modernism emerges out of the subjective responses of artists/ designers to modernity.
A subjective experience, understanding modern art and the experience of modernity.

Different Styles of Painting began to occur, as painters felt threatened by Photography. The painters tried to depict a more sensory scene

Monet, Gare St.Lazare, 1877
 Monet tried to recreate the smog and noise of the train, a factor of modernity.

Scientific pursuits also influenced new techniques of painting such as Futurism.

 Modernism in Design
  • Anti- Historicism- isn't inspired by the past, contemporary and beyond.
  • Truth to Materials- doesn't hide new materials or processes
  • Form follows Function- practicality over design
  • Technology
  • Internationalism
Cutlery (1920's) Undisguised, anti-decoration, functionality, timeless design(used now)
Adolf Loos 1908, ' ornament is crime' designs should be timeless so don't base it upon something that pre-exsists.

Truth to Materials
  • simple geometric form appropriate to the material being used
  • form follows function
Bauhaus- Re-shaped how art and design was taught. modern teaching.
The building itself reflects the ideals above.

The windows are that big so that there is light for the artists to work, they are also possible due to new materials such as reinforced glass and steel.
Its box shaped as this is the most functional use of space, it provides the most space.
The walls are concrete another new material, it doesn't need to be hidden as something else.
Typeface, sans serif, serifs are extra decoration.

The Bauhaus, Dessau

New Technology= New way of designing

A language of design that could be recognized and understood worldwide, on an international basis.

Herman Bayer
Argued all type should be lowercase
There is no historic or social background


Stanley Morrison, Times New Roman
Made for the Times Newspaper
Connotations of imperialism and nationalism, British greatness.


Fraktur Font
Made for Nazi Propoganda e.c.t
Gothic, Germanic, Superiority, German Nationalism

Key Elements of Design
Mass Production- cheap and widely accessible

Moderity (1759-1960) social and cultral experience
Modern, suggests optimism and improvement
Modernism, emerged from subjective modernity

Vocubulary Style
Art and Design Eduction
Idea of Form follows Function

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