‘Every moment some form grows perfect in hand or face, some tone on the hills or the sea is choicer than the rest; some mood of passion or insight or intellectual excitement is irresistibly real and attractive to us,—for that moment only.’
NATURALISM / FRENCH POETIC REALISM- attention to very accurate and precise details, and portrays things as they are i.e. depiction of realistic objects in a natural setting. they sought to depict what was truth-to-life and objective view of reality, in contrast to avoiding unrealistic romantic depictions. These French realists positioned themselves against French romanticism.
The achievement of realism in theatre was to direct attention to the physical and philosophic problems of ordinary existence, both socially and psychologically. In plays of this mode, people emerge as victims of forces larger than themselves, as individuals confronted with a rapidly accelerating world.
ITALIAN NEO-REALISM (film)- mostly contend with the difficult economic and moral conditions of post-World War II Italy, reflecting the changes in the Italian psyche and the conditions of everyday life: poverty and desperation. it was heavily influenced from naturalism / French poetic-realism, and it later had an impact on the French New Wave cinema.
At some point in the early years of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, engineering and architecture had come apart, or at least a split had begun to appear between two radically different ways of solving large structural problems. (a split that in different forms goes back at least as far as Plato)
Perhaps the attitudes which finally threatened architecture as conceived ever since the Renaissance sprang most immediately out of an interest in a new material, iron, viewed by most architects as profoundly un-architectural.
For someone used to arched stone, brick or concrete construction, familiar since the Romans, iron bridge appeared to defy basic rules and to take little notice of gravity. The resulting jump in scale is enormous.
Suddenly iron and glass are thinkable for the most monumental constructions. Railway sheds had already employed the new technology.
A crucial step in admitting the new materials to aesthetic respectability occurs with Eiffel’s design for a monumental marker for the Paris Exposition of 1889. His skeletal iron tower, which did nothing to clothe and little to prettify itself, caused shock and consternation but quickly imprinted itself as an unforgettable icon.
Modernism was a revolt against the conservative values of realism. Modernism rejected the lingering certainty of Enlightenment thinking and also rejected the existence of a compassionate, all-powerful Creator God.
The modernist movement, at the beginning of the 20th century, marked the first time that the term "avant-garde“ (non elitist culture, no high design, no craftsmanship, trashy but with humour), with which the movement was labelled until the word "modernism" prevailed, was used for the arts (rather than in its original military and political context).
Despite using Christian imagery repeatedly, Blake was a mystical prophet, not a biblical prophet. He saw the Bible as a very long poem. For Blake, a more genuine bible were the writings of Emmanuel Swedenborg. Blake’s friends nevertheless said he did not see himself as his disciple, but more like a fellow visionary.
He lived at a time when towns were society was entering the Industrial Age, with factories appearing in the landscape. He felt the landscape became a vision of hell and Mankind the subject of a new form of self-imposed slavery. But above all, he also understand that in these times of change, with Revolutions in America and France, Britain needed to have a new vision of the future and the past, and it is here that Blake’s role in history is perhaps at its most important.
Auguries of Innocence by William Blake: “To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.” He shared with the Hermetics that if one could really see, everything was double, micro- and macro-cosmic. To this, he added, that “without contraries there is no progression”.
The future, as the opening verse might suggest, was Blake’s obsession – but so was the past, as the future would restore the glories of the past. Blake not so much romanticised, but “mythicised” the past, especially Celtic-megalithic Britain and a past that he had labelled “Albion”, England’s great mythological past ruled by Druids, which was largely seen as a Garden of Eden – but British in nature.
Blake had not arrived at this framework by reading, even though he was influenced by those who had written about Atlantis; primarily, Blake had experienced. Since childhood, Blake had visions, which, unlike most people, stayed with him throughout life – if not grew in their intensity. He believed that this gift was innate with all, but he had merely retained it beyond childhood.
Blake was true to himself when he stated that "The imagination is not a State: it is the Human existence itself." Blake considered memory to be an aspect of time, and hence what Christianity labelled the “Fallen World”. For him, “Salvation” were imaginary states, where he could transcend time, to look upon “our ancient days before this Earth appeared in its vegetated mortality to my mortal vegetated Eyes.”
William Wordsworth wrote: "There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott."
“These states exist now. Man passes on, but states remain for ever; he passes through them like a traveller who may as well suppose that the places he has passed through exist no more, as a Man may suppose that the states he has passed through exist no more. Everything is eternal.” He added: “This world of imagination is the world of eternity… There exist in that eternal world the permanent realities of everything which we see reflected in this vegetable glass of nature.”
These artists seem to have been in unanimous agreement that it was important to represent, in artistic form, what Swinburne called ‘the bodily beauty of man and woman’, and Pater ‘the worship of the body’.
Nonetheless, some of the nudes are painted with a passionate intensity that seems to draw the observer into intimacy with the painted figure. Others give a crystalline precision to the human form that seems to distance it from human concerns into a world of artistic perfectionism.
Boyce was a special friend of Rossetti, and the entry implies that the artists closest to Rossetti agreed with him, that flesh should be ‘characteristically true and pre-eminent’, while the artists who were closer to Leighton took the other position, that flesh-painting should be ‘of no more value than any other piece of colour’. The ramifications of this discussion go beyond a mere question of technique.
They point to two contrasted ways of thinking about what an art devoted to ‘beauty’, or ‘for art’s sake’ alone, might be like.
Colvin identifies two distinct tendencies: he groups Leighton, Moore, and Whistler together as artists who aim at ‘beauty without realism’, and links Burne-Jones and Solomon with Rossetti as combining beauty with ‘passion and intellect’.
Julia was from a family of celebrated beauties, and was considered an ugly duckling among her sisters. As her great-niece Virginia Woolf wrote in the 1926 introduction to the Hogarth Press collection of Cameron's photographs, "In the trio [of sisters] where...[one] was Beauty; and [one] Dash; Mrs. Cameron was undoubtedly Talent"
However, it was not until 1948 that her photography became more widely known when Helmut Gernsheim wrote a book on her work. In 1977 Gernsheim noted that although a great photographer, Cameron had "left no mark" on the aesthetic history of Photography because her work was not appreciated by her contemporaries and thus not imitated.
The reference is to the final line of a tale in the Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–75), in which the principal character, Alatiel, is the most beautiful woman in the world, and the most sensual; she exchanges sexual delights with eight men before marrying a ninth. In an abrupt reversal of the narrative of inevitable ruin for the fallen woman, Alatiel lives happily ever after, and the final line can be read as a celebration of promiscuity: ‘the mouth that has been kissed does not lose its fortune, rather it renews itself just as the moon does’.
Thus the title is perfectly adapted to the heady sensuality of the picture itself, but, importantly, it was an afterthought: the meanings of the picture were created in visual terms, and the literary content was chosen later to amplify the picture’s ‘aesthetic ideas’.
This was the first of his pictures of single female figures, and established the style that was later to become a signature of his work. The model was Fanny Cornforth, the principal inspiration for Rossetti's sensuous figures.
If Ruskin’s new-found enthusiasm for Venetian painting was one motivation for Rossetti, the work ended in flagrant defiance of Ruskin’s own earlier advocacy of the ‘theoretic’ over the ‘aesthetic’: it is a powerful visual argument in favour of the pleasures of the senses as an appropriate subject for painting, apart from any moral or didactic considerations.
More than that, it presents sensuous and erotic pleasures as inseparable. Holman Hunt was horrified: ‘I will not scruple to say that it impresses me as very remarkable in power of execution—but still more remarkable for gross sensuality of a revolting kind. . . . Rossetti is advocating as a principle the mere gratification of the eye and if any passion at all—the animal passion to be the aim of art.’
Nonetheless, Rossetti’s experiment in the purely ‘aesthetic’ caught on; within the next few years a number of painters in the social circles linked to Rossetti made pictures of single figures that had no evident purpose but to delight the senses.
The painting depicts a banquet scene in which the tall figure of Christ is depicted in the center in a shimmering pale green robe and the surrounding people interact in a turbulence of poly-chromatic splendour at a whole diversity of different positions and poses. The feast is framed by the great pillars and archways of a portico and a staircase to the right.
In all his pictures, save two or three produced in his later boyhood, he avoided any approach to story-telling, and occupied himself exclusively with decorative arrangements of lines and color masses. As an executant he was careful and certain; he drew finely, and his color-sense was remarkable for its refinement and subtle appreciation. Few men have equaled him as a painter of draperies, and still fewer have approached his ability in the application of decorative principles to pictorial art.
He fused the classical and aesthetic movement in a style that was completely his own. The spirit of his art is essentially classic, and his work shows plainly that he was deeply influenced by study of antique sculpture; but he was not in any sense an archaeological painter, nor did he attempt reconstructions of the life of past centuries. Artistically he lived in a world of his own creation, a place peopled with robust types of humanity of Greek mould, and with bright-colored draperies and brilliant-hued flowers.
The various accessories do not define a coherent historical setting: the woman’s draperies are classicizing, but the carp bowl, the decorations of the azalea pot, and the asymmetrical arrangement of blossoms are Japanese in sensibility. Moreover, the mesmerizing rhythms of the compositional lines appear to obey a mathematical logic rather than naturalistic spontaneity.
Although some critics received Azaleas with minimal enthusiasm, they grudging admitted the beauty of Moore's picture. Curious and devoid of any narrative, one critic still found it "brimful of undeniable talent — of genius almost — but daringly eccentric in design and execution". But it was the Pre-Raphaelites who proclaimed Azaleas one of the key pictures of the year. But it was arch-aesthetic Swinburne who blazoned Azaleas as an instance of pure art-for-art's sake.
In this painting Whistler’s combines a Japanese fan with another asymmetrical spray of foliage and curious dresses, reminiscent of early nineteenth-century Regency fashion, with high waists and puffed sleeves.
The picture does not represent music-making; instead, the title indicates
that it is the picture itself that is the ‘symphony’. It is a work of art, analogous to a piece of music, and identified by its dominant colour (white), as a piece of music might be identified by its key (‘Symphony in C’); moreover, it is the third of its kind in the artist’s oeuvre, just as a musical composition might be designated by number.
Perhaps the implication of the particular musical term, ‘symphony’, is that the picture corresponds to absolute music rather than to programme music (music that dramatizes a story) or music set to words.
This equation between non-realist painting and absolute music is perhaps clearest in Whistler’s Symphony in White, No. 3, although Whistler relies on a verbal title to convey his meaning rather than suggesting it entirely in visual terms; indeed, he inscribes the title conspicuously along the bottom of the canvas, an indication of how important it is to the picture’s meaning, and probably also of how novel the idea still was in 1867.
Thus the idea of an analogy with music can suggest a compositional method based on spatial measurements, as music is based on quantifiable acoustic vibrations. Such a method would use geometrical proportions to generate a composition, rather than letting the requirements either of subject-matter or of realistic representation dictate the placement of figures and objects.
As we have seen, Colvin’s article of 1867 comes close to advancing a theory that we might call ‘formalist’: art should concern itself with forms and colours, the qualities proper to its visual medium.
But for the 19th-century artists this did not mean moving towards total abstraction. Instead the artists wished to bring form and content closer together. They sought ways to make the picture generate its meanings in the terms of its own visual medium, rather than merely referring to meanings generated elsewhere, say in a literary source, or even in the natural world.
This is similar to what Gautier meant by an ‘idea in painting’, as opposed to an ‘idea in literature’. In the pictures of 1867 (and many other works associated with art for art’s sake), the artists proposed the analogy with music as one way of moving away from dependence on narrative or ‘literary’ subject-matter.
But are such pictures merely examples of the Kantian ‘agreeable’, offering the ‘interested’ pleasures of visual luxury and erotic appeal? Mirrors are a traditional symbol of vanity, sometimes of lust, and the whole series of images can be read as a celebration of worldly pleasures.
This we might regard as a salutary corrective to the supposed prudishness and visual insensitivity of Victorian England. But as we look longer the mirrors begin to suggest further meanings. The figures absorption in their own beauty is like that of the mythological Narcissus, falling in love with his own reflection; it may be introspective or introverted, not quite permitting the spectator to fathom its secrets; or it may be a figure for autonomous art, sufficient in its own beauty without reference to extraneous purposes or ends.
Swinburne mused on some of these possibilities in a poem, written in response to Whistler’s The Little White Girl. He lets the figure speak, but her self-contemplation remains enigmatic:
I watch my face, and wonder
At my bright hair;
Nought else exalts or grieves
The rose at heart, that heaves
With love of her own leaves and lips that pair.
In most of the pictures the mirror image remains tantalizingly hidden
from view; in the Whistler, the haunting second face in the mirror seems sadder, less serene, and the two figures fail to make eye contact with one another. The mirrors, then, are capable of generating ‘aesthetic ideas’ in the free play of mind of the observer’s response.
Though the painting was originally called The Little White Girl, Whistler later started calling it Symphony in White, No. 2. By referring to his work in such abstract terms, he intended to emphasise his "art for art's sake" philosophy. In this painting, Heffernan wears a ring on her ring finger, even though the two were not married. By this religious imagery, Whistler emphasises the aesthetic philosophy behind his work.
The symbol was apt, for it combined both aspects of his personality—his art was characterized by a subtle delicacy, while his public persona was combative. Finding a parallel between painting and music, Whistler titled many of his paintings "arrangements", "harmonies", and "nocturnes", emphasizing the primacy of tonal harmony
In this painting we note the disposition of the black figure, marking a diagonal across a measured grid of horizontal and vertical lines; the limitation of hue, virtually to a monochrome, emphasizes the simplification of forms. The delicate paint surface varies from an almost ethereal stain in the background greys, through the calligraphic waves and flecks at the left, to the transparent feathery whites towards the centre. We do not need to read these areas as a wall, a curtain, or a lace cap and cuffs to find them beautiful.
In this reading Whistler’s painting has a formal beauty similar to that of an abstract painting, such as one by Piet Mondrian (1872–1944). But, despite Whistler’s protestations, the public has always cared very much indeed about the ‘identity of the portrait’, so much so that—under the familiar title Whistler’s Mother—it is still one of the most famous pictures in the world. We might even suspect Whistler, a consummate self-publicist, of raising the question to call attention to the painting’s strangeness as a portrait. It is utterly memorable, partly because it is so unconventional as a representation of motherhood. The figure is anything but cuddly or nurturing; instead she is angular, stark in profile, immobile and unresponsive, dressed in the strict black and white of Protestant bourgeois rectitude. Suddenly ‘devotion, pity, love, patriotism’ come flooding back into the interpretation of the picture, together with piety, righteousness, and respect.
But is this reading, which takes account of the picture’s content, inconsistent with art for art’s sake? In fact Whistler was lying. At the Royal Academy he had exhibited the portrait with a double title: Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter’s Mother.
Unlike the more strident statement in ‘The Red Rag’, the double title leaves us free to explore a richer set of possibilities, in which the formal elements of the picture (the ‘arrangement’ of lines and colours) and its content (the representation of the artist’s elderly mother) are not mutually exclusive.
This introduces the possibility of an aesthetic response that depends neither on a sentimental reaction to the depiction of motherhood, nor on abstracting away the portrait character of the image. The picture is compelling as a set of abstract, monochrome shapes; it is fascinating as an unconventional representation of a mother. But Whistler’s project is perhaps more daring still. He asks us to make the judgement of taste—‘This is beautiful’—in relation to a painting of an old woman in plain black against a grey background.
To see beauty in form and content together in this picture is a more complex and interesting experiment than the formalist approach that Whistler seems superficially to espouse in ‘The Red Rag’ and other writings.
The motto l’art pour l’art had been controversial from the moment it was introduced, not only because of the misinterpretation that it was tantamount to ‘form for form’s sake’, but principally because of the correct interpretation, that it meant a complete divorce between art and morality. Indeed this phrase, which in other words was ‘pointless objective’, was often seen as a repudiation of the increasing commercialism of the markets for literature and art from the 1830s onwards, a refusal of complicity with the profit-making ethos of bourgeois society.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon wrote perhaps the most swingeing attack of the period on l’art pour l’art, derived from Kant (and implicit in Cousin’s title, ‘On the true, the beautiful and the good’), that there were three areas of human endeavour: for Proudhon there were only two, the moral values of conscience or justice on the one hand, and the logical values of science or truth on the other.
Thus there can be no role for art other than servitude to one or the other (or both). Proudhon’s position was a committed one, but it is also reductive. His binary conception of the human mind leaves no room either for the delights of the senses or for the innovatory potential of the imagination.
Thus the battle lines were drawn anew in the years around the middle of the century—no longer between Classicism and Romanticism, but between the proponents of a pure art, directed to no end beyond itself, and the advocates of a humanitarian art directed towards the goal of social improvement.
Moreover, on the one side are proponents of a socially and politically progressive art, devoted to the representation of modern life and strongly associated with realism, including if necessary the depiction of the ugly. The other side was devoted exclusively to the beautiful and entirely divorced from the promotion of ideological ends of any kind. Once again we seem to have a clearcut polarity.
Charles Baudelaire poured scorn on what he described as the ‘heresies’ of confusing art with morality or scientific truth. Beauty, for the poet of Les Fleurs du mal (‘Flowers of Evil’, published in 1857, dedicated to Gautier, and prosecuted for immorality), may be strange, grotesque, sinister, or macabre. But it cannot be reduced to subservience, whether to noble philanthropism or to petty bourgeois morality, to radical or repressive politics, without losing all its integrity and power.
It depicts a fireworks show in the night sky over Battersea Bridge in an industrial London city park. The gold flecks and splatters represent the exploded fireworks in the night sky. The fireworks light up the sky, producing a glow in the thick air and billowing smoke. The artist was more interested in conveying atmospheric effects than he was in providing details of the actual scene.
Whistler manages to paint darkness while retaining the right degree of colour-laden luminosity. There is a sense of spatial ambiguity set against a structure of line and form. The contradictory qualities of energy and stillness are combined here.
The painting was controversial. Art critic John Ruskin criticized the painting harshly. In response, Whistler sued Ruskin for libel.
Ruskin’s counsel had no difficulty in proving that Whistler had spent less than two days making his Nocturne; by contrast Burne-Jones’s Venus’ Mirror must have required months of careful labour. But something singular happened when Burne-Jones gave his testimony. he found himself utterly unable to deny, under oath, that Whistler’s work might be called ‘beautiful’.
But his testimony was not inconsistent, if we remember the aesthetic debates of the preceding years. The quantity of an artist’s labour, the amount of finish or detail, are matters of fact; the importance of such things is an ethical issue. These matters belong to ‘science’ and ‘morality’, in Swinburne’s tripartite scheme: they have nothing to do with beauty. As Burne-Jones found under cross-examination, any number of logical and moral objections cannot prevent us from finding something beautiful.
Posterity has delivered its own judgement, tending to condemn Burne-Jones and Ruskin for conservatism, and to applaud Whistler’s foresight and courage, in fighting to free art from its ties to representational accuracy and didacticism alike, and leading the way towards 20th-century modernism.
This is the most Pre-Raphaelite of his paintings, set out in the open air with a typically English landscape illuminated by natural early evening light and with close attention to the autumn leaves, the reed choked river's edge and medieval details.
This lady is far younger than the Edwardian woman of his later painting. She is no more than a girl with the wistful, tragic quality of so many of Waterhouse's dreamy heroines. The scene shows the doomed Lady of Shalott setting of on her final voyage along the river to Camelot. The tapestry she has spent her life creating, trails behind her in the water and there is a lantern, candles and a crucifix on the prow of the boat, like a small alter. She looks very innocent in her white dress and loose hair, very definitely the cursed princess. The atmosphere is dreamy and magical, thanks to the mist on the water, the darkness of the forest and the approaching dusk, like a scene from a fairytale.
This makes it more difficult to interpret the picture, as the poem has been on occasions, as an allegory of the fallen woman, a young lady led astray to meet a fate worse than death. The Lady of Shalott dies, singing her own song, in the pursuit of love, fading away before she reaches human company. Art was not enough for her, she yearned for life and action, but the curse was that the lady was not permitted to join the world and live a life of action. This is also seen as an allegory of the artist, doomed to watch rather than act,and of a woman's lot in Tennyson's society.
"The Lady of Shalott" is a Victorian ballad by the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Like his other early poems he recasts the Arthurian legend of Elaine of Astolat which was loosely based on medieval sources (recounted in a thirteenth-century Italian novella titled Donna di Scalotta).
Tennyson focused on the Lady's "isolation in the tower and her decision to participate in the living world, two subjects not even mentioned in Donna di Scalotta."
The beer which is depicted, Bass Pale Ale (noted by the red triangle on the label), would have catered not to the tastes of Parisians, but to those of English tourists, suggesting a British clientele. Manet has signed his name on the label of the bottle at the bottom left, combining the centuries-old practice of self-promotion in art with something more modern, bordering on the product placement concept of the late twentieth century. One interpretation of the painting has been that far from only being a seller of the wares shown on the counter, the woman is herself one of the wares for sale; conveying undertones of prostitution. The man in the background may be a potential client.
The reflection in the mirror permits a hallucinatory view of the figure’s back that is strangely discrepant with the front view, a motif often seen in Ingres’s portraiture. Having noted this, we may observe that the simplification of form for which Manet is famous also has affinities with Ingres’s treatment of the human figure.
The simplified oval of the woman’s face in the Manet, symmetrical and regular, with its deadpan expression, has the abstract beauty of one of Ingres’s female faces. This leads to a startling insight: through Ingres, Manet’s barmaid looks back to Raphael and to the ideal of beauty that Winckelmann had projected back farther still, to classical antiquity. There is a sidelong glance, too, at the pictures with mirrors of the Rossetti circle.
The painting explores the problem of a modern art that can no longer define itself as ‘mimetic’—that is, as a mirror image of the external world. For Manet as for Rossetti and Whistler, the mirror has become a deeply problematic idea.
Manet’s painting presents the problem in a more obviously modern context, an urban place of public entertainment. But we should remember how Baudelaire made ‘beauty’ the key term for a painting of modern life. Manet’s picture shows us what modern beauty might look like; it challenges us to make the judgement of taste about a scene that many contemporaries would have thought vulgar and ugly.
We might say that Manet shows us the ‘eternal’ side of the barmaid’s beauty inextricably with her ‘modern’ side. For Baudelaire both were necessary, and that might explain how Manet’s art has come to have the status formerly enjoyed by Raphael or antique sculpture:
In today’s art history Manet’s modernity has taken its place as ‘antiquity’ (to borrow Baudelaire’s criterion for beauty).
So new was this art that it did not even have a name. According to Desmond MacCarthy (1877–1952), Fry’s co-organizer for the exhibition, numerous alternative titles were proposed and rejected until Fry, in exasperation, exclaimed: ‘Oh, let’s just call them post-impressionists; at any rate, they came after the impressionists’.
Moreover, the notorious shock effect of Fry’s exhibition helped to establish the idea, powerful throughout the twentieth century, that new art should
challenge existing conventions; that to shock or even repel audiences was a mark of the modernity, originality, and vitality of any new art movement.
The American artist Barnett Newman (1905–70) declared that ‘The impulse of modern art was [the] desire to destroy beauty’, which he associated with the outmoded past of the European tradition.
In the twentieth century the basic question was no longer ‘is x beautiful?’ but, rather, ‘is it art?’
He was a Crimean War correspondent, water color painter and illustrator for British and French newspapers.
Robert de Montesquiou wrote a review of Guys that acknowledged Baudelaire's essay, compared Guys favorably to Whistler, and emphasized his portrayal of details of women's clothing, and horse carriages. His subjects were Second French Empire life. In the Dutch novel "Au pair" by W.F. Hermans, one of the main characters is fascinated by Constantin Guys.
Baudelaire’s championing of modern-life subject-matter, which seems specially relevant in the art world that would soon produce the Impressionists. But Baudelaire, like Delacroix, takes seriously the problem of how the artist is to create a work that is not only relative—of its time, or individual to the artist—but also ‘beautiful’ in some more universal sense. This can be seen to go back to the basic Kantian characterization of aesthetic experience as both subjective and universal.
But Baudelaire brings into sharper focus a crucial aspect of that problem, its
temporal dimension: the subjective aesthetic experience, based on a direct and singular encounter with an object, necessarily occurs in the present, the modernity of the beholder. But to put it from our own perspective, why should we take any interest in old French pictures that represent the life of their day, when they are no longer ‘modern’ for us, or relevant to our own social and humanitarian concerns?
The choice of Guys, rather than a major painter such as Courbet or Manet (whose paintings of modern life were just beginning to appear), seems to bias the agenda as Guys’s drawings were made to reflect the passing interests of the moment but if Baudelaire can show that these throw-away drawings of fleeting episodes demonstrate both aspects of beauty—the eternal as well as the transient—he can not only provide a justification for the portrayal of modern life in art, he can potentially elucidate the significance of the modern in aesthetic experience generally.
The subject of the pictures above is ‘modern’ in a different sense: the rapid strokes of the pen seem to capture a moment in the present day of the artist. The sketchy legs of the background horse, for instance, suggest that it is moving, and in another second will not look the same. The informality of the composition assists this; we seem to catch a sidelong glimpse of something happening before our very eyes, not composed in advance. Thus we connect our visual experience of the drawing, which we see in our own present day, with the visual experience of the artist who saw the scene in his present day. Moreover, the summary character of the execution makes it possible for us to grasp all of this virtually in an instant; this again feels modern in that it happens immediately.
As Baudelaire shows, it depends on two distinct stages of visual experience: Guys’s, when he saw the scene; and ours, when we see the drawing. We understand both of these to be ‘modern’, although in slightly different ways: the one was modern when the drawing was made, the other is in our own modernity. But if we connect those two modernities fairly effortlessly, Baudelaire points out the contradiction: we can have this powerful experience of ‘modernity’ only because the first ‘modern’ moment, that of Guys, has passed into the duration of art—probably not literally an ‘eternal’ one (given the fragility of drawings on paper), but long enough, anyway, to allow us to recapture it. That means that what we are experiencing as modern is also lasting, and cannot logically be otherwise, or we could not see it.
But Baudelaire goes a step further to point out that the same must also be true even of Guys’s original impression. Its already an ‘image’ in Guy's mind, a step removed from the raw experience of the scene. When it is ‘reborn upon his paper’ it is removed another step:
‘The phantasmagoria has been distilled from nature. All the raw materials
with which the memory has loaded itself are put in order, ranged
and harmonized, and undergo that forced idealization which is the
result of a childlike perceptiveness. . . .’
The words ‘memory’ and ‘idealization’ immediately remind us of Delacroix. Baudelaire has succeeded, then, in showing how Guys’s ephemeral sketches partake after all of the eternal element of beauty. More than that, he has
also proved his first point: that the transient element—the powerful modernity of the drawing—is inconceivable without the eternal one. And that goes not only for the drawing itself; it is true, too, of Guys’s original aesthetic experience of the scene, and of our experience of the drawing.
Indeed, Baudelaire gives this special emphasis, that Guys did not make his drawings while he was actually looking at the scene, but instead used a two-stage process:
first, drinking in visual experience as intensively as possible, to imprint it on his memory; then, drawing on the memory later to transform it into the drawing. We have seen Delacroix employing some such method in the production of a complex oil painting.
The example of Guys’s drawings gives Baudelaire a kind of limit case, in which our experience of the represented scene is both as direct as we can feasibly imagine, and yet already mediated twice through the ‘eternal’ aspect of beauty. The example of Guys also tests the limits of the problem Kant had raised about the intentionality of the artist.
Guys’s working method, as Baudelaire describes it, comes as close as possible to unpremeditated production: it is ‘as unconscious and spontaneous as is digestion for a healthy man after dinner’. Yet every time Baudelaire suggests the pure immediacy—or modernity—of the process, he qualifies the notion.
So spontaneous is the process that no step in the making of the drawing can be seen as a mere stage on the way towards some more final resolution of the drawing—that would imply that there was a plan or goal towards which the artist was aiming. Therefore, each set of marks, the initial pencil notation, the washes added next, the firm contours drawn later, is an end in itself: ‘at
no matter what stage in its execution, each drawing has a sufficiently “finished” look; call it a “study” if you will, but you will have to admit that it is a perfect study’.
Thus not only the final drawing, but the drawing in progress, with every addition of a mark, is both utterly transient (modern) and utterly finished (eternal).
Modernity is the essential condition of any aesthetic experience (or
any act of artmaking; the two are as closely linked in his account of
Guys as in Kant’s discussion of genius). At the same time, he has
shown that the eternal element—a form of antiquity—is inseparable
from the modern or transient one.
In a sense this resolves the Kantian problem of how beauty can be both subjective (or modern) and universal (or eternal).
Thus he found fault with Ingres, who neglected the ‘modern’ component of beauty by imitating the old masters too slavishly.
And with Realists such as Courbet, who did not distill their raw material sufficiently, through imagination and memory: ‘for any “modernity” to be worthy of one day taking its place as “antiquity”, it is necessary for the mysterious beauty which human life accidentally puts into it to be distilled from it’.
its was an objective recording of nature in terms of the fugitive effects of colour and light. they focused on pure, vivid colours and its technique of defining form with short and distinctive brush-strokes of broken colour, thick application of paint, and real-life subject matter.
They painted while remaining in a close-knit, convivial group. Impressionism had been notorious for its spontaneous representation of fleeting moments and roughness in brushwork
NEO IMPRESSIONISM- used disciplined networks of dots in their desire to instil a sense of organization and permanence. The development of colour theory in the late nineteenth century played a pivotal role in shaping this style. they acknowledged the different behaviours exhibited by coloured light and coloured pigment.
To avoid the dullness, they devised a system of pure-colour juxtaposition. Mixing of colours was not necessary. The effective utilization of pointillism facilitated in eliciting a distinct luminous effect, and from a distance, the dots came together as a whole displaying maximum brilliance and conformity to actual light conditions.
The meticulously calculated regularity of brush strokes was deemed to be too mechanical.
SYMBOLIST- Symbolism was largely a reaction against naturalism and realism, anti-idealistic movements which attempted to capture reality in its gritty particularity, and to elevate the humble and the ordinary over the ideal. These movements invited a reaction in favour of spirituality, the imagination, and dreams; the path to symbolism began with that reaction. Symbolists believed that art should aim to capture more absolute truths which could only be accessed by indirect methods. Thus, they wrote in a highly metaphorical and suggestive manner, endowing particular images or objects with symbolic meaning.
In the English-speaking world, the closest counterpart to symbolism was aestheticism. The pre-Raphaelites were contemporaries of the earlier symbolists, and have much in common with them. important influence on expressionism and surrealism in painting, two movements which descend directly from symbolism proper.
Its roots can be found in Les Fleurs du mal (often translated The Flowers of Evil). The subject matter of these poems deals with themes relating to decadence and eroticism.
POST-IMPRESSIONISM- they felt typical impressionistic art was too casual. they wanted to improve further by exploring emotion in paint. to draw the essence and mood behind the object to be drawn. emphasize geometric forms, reducing objects to their basic shapes , to distort form for expressive effect, and to use unnatural or arbitrary colour. they sought a simpler truth and purer aesthetic in art.
They include van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne, Seurat, Signac and Toulouse-Lautrec. Many were involved with the Societe des Artistes Independants established in Paris in 1884. it was not a cohesive movement.
He can be said to form the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century's new line of artistic enquiry, Cubism. The line attributed to both Matisse and Picasso that Cézanne "is the father of us all" cannot be easily dismissed.
He used planes of colour and small brushstrokes that build up to form complex fields, at once both a direct expression of the sensations of the observing eye and an abstraction from observed nature. His often repetitive, sensitive and exploratory brushstrokes are highly characteristic and clearly recognizable.
The paintings convey Cézanne's intense study of his subjects, a searching gaze and a dogged struggle to deal with the complexity of human visual perception. Cézanne's work demonstrates a mastery of design, colour, tone, composition and draughtsmanship.
The forbiddingly austere, the branches are bare and jagged, the houses are plain and uninviting, and the central tree bisects the picture in an ungainly fashion; all of this is not beautiful in any conventional sense.
But, for Fry at least, the visual relationships among the lines and colours of this canvas demonstrate the greatest qualities of ‘design’. They are ‘expressive’ and move the viewer with profound ‘emotion’. These words denote something that is exclusively to do with the work of art and not with the world outside it.
It should be emphasized that Fry has no quarrel with the fact that the paintings are representational. But this is achieved by ‘a perfect instinct for the expressive quality of tone values’ within the picture, not by cleverly reproducing the appearance of natural effects.
The viewer’s ‘emotion’ is not one of those we experience in everyday life, such as sadness, nostalgia, or compassion; it is special to the contemplation of the work of art. By rigorously isolating ‘pure form’ from the kinds of visual attractiveness, expressiveness, and emotion that we experience in real life, Fry was able to claim that Cézanne’s art was of superlative value, even though it might represent nothing more than a few bare trees in a bleak landscape, and offered little or no human interest.
And the claim has proved utterly persuasive. Despite objections to Fry’s formalism that gathered in force in the late 20th century, his high valuation of Cézanne remains unchallenged to this day.
It can be argued, then, that Fry developed his formalist aesthetic in response to a particular kind of art, the kind he named ‘Post- Impressionist’, and that it was therefore specially adapted to that kind of art. Both Giotto’s Pietà and Cézanne’s The Pool at the Jas de Bouffan are visually compelling, but Fry’s emphasis on ‘pure form’ seems to miss something important about the Giotto, while it makes the Cézanne more exciting than we might have anticipated.
Fry was not only concerned to promote the contemporary art he favoured, he genuinely believed that his formalist method should be extended to the art of all times and places.
Thus Vision and Design includes articles on aboriginal art, African sculpture, Pre-Columbian and Islamic art, as well as a wide variety of European artists.
At the time of his death in 1934 Fry was in the midst of his first series of lectures as Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge. In his initial lectures he had already discussed the ancient art of Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Aegean, Africa, the Americas, China, India, and Greece; moreover, he had dealt with media as diverse as pottery, masks, textiles, jewellery, as well as the traditional ‘high’ arts.
Seventy years later, only a tiny number of university art history departments can cover a global range as extensive as Fry’s, despite massive recent efforts to widen art history beyond its traditional focus on western Europe and on the ‘high’ arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture.
For many art historians of the late twentieth century Fry’s disregard of historical circumstances not only neglected important data, it could seem morally irresponsible, but for Fry all works of art are contemporary, if they are powerful enough to move the observer in the present day.
Most of Fry’s contemporaries saw, in African sculpture, a lack of skill in representing the human body. But when Fry looks at African sculpture he sees, instead, an approach to form that is aesthetically superior to the naturalistic body in western sculpture.
In Fry’s view, human limbs as represented in the western classical tradition lack fine plastic form; they are too long, thin, and isolated from the other masses. The African sculptor, however, rightly prefers plastic expressiveness to naturalism.
But if we attend to the repeating rhythms of the parallel brushstrokes, the even weave of strokes across the surface, the way their slight diagonal orientation plays against the rectangular edges of the canvas, the juxtapositions of intense reds, greens, and yellows with dark contours, we see not just seven apples, but a whole pictorial world, consistent within itself and mesmerizing in its range from light to dark.
For Fry the effect of Cézanne’s pictorial forms was actually superior to that of real apples; Cézanne’s painting could ‘enforce, far more than real apples could, the sense of their density and mass’.
Formalist looking may, then, provide a method of attaining disinterest in the contemplation of objects, and thus of moving beyond what we already know or believe (what apples look like, what characteristics human bodies should display) towards experiences that are unexpected, deeper, or wider-ranging.
‘Associated ideas’ may indeed lead to stereotyped responses that merely confirm our prejudices. Divesting our minds of such ideas to concentrate on the formal characteristics of an object may therefore have a ‘defamiliarizing’ effect, jolting us out of our habitual responses and opening our minds to new and different possibilities. Giving up European cultural prejudice in favour of the ‘associated idea’ that human beings ought to appear agile can allow us to experience a wholly different sense of vitality in the complex, fully plastic forms, such as, of African sculpture.
Despite his emphasis on the word ‘free’, Fry’s characterization of aesthetic response is not open-ended; rather, it depends on ‘cutting off ’ certain kinds of response, as Bell’s ‘aesthetic emotion’ does by excluding the ‘ordinary emotions of life’.
Moreover, both writers at least imply that the properly aesthetic response is available only in relation to certain kinds of objects—for Bell, objects that display ‘significant form’; for Fry, objects that do not depend too much on ‘associated ideas’.
For Fry and Bell a properly disinterested response is possible only in relation to art, because it is only in the contemplation of art that we can cut off the practical responses and emotions of ‘actual life’.
At first thought this may seem reasonable enough, or even attractive: in an unjust world art may offer us the hope, at least, of a kind of experience that is not poisoned by self-interest, commercialism, hypocrisy, or the manipulation of others. But as soon as the aesthetic experience is made to depend, partly, on characteristics of the object under contemplation, the freedom of the Kantian aesthetic is lost.
Once it has been conceded that the possibility of a disinterested judgement depends on something about the object, it becomes reasonable to suppose that some art objects will be more suitable for disinterested contemplation than others.
‘Formalism’ then becomes not merely a way of attaining disinterested contemplation, but a characteristic of objects and, what is more, a criterion for judging them. Thus works that privilege ‘pure form’ over ‘associated ideas’ are to be preferred; a rule for artistic production is created, and with it a hierarchy of artworks past and present.
The mass of observers who bring their own experiences to bear on art (bad) and the sophisticated connoisseur who is attentive to form alone (good). The highly developed illusionism of the European tradition, including Impressionism (bad).
The Red Studio, oil on canvas, 1911 by Henri Matisse.
It is important for its use of color and its flattened perspective, his altering of reality and our perception of space.
He painted it in 1911, after his exposure to traditional Islamic art during a visit to Spain, which influenced his use of pattern, decoration, and depiction of space.
In the lower right-hand corner, where an artist's signature traditionally appears, the chair and sculpture stands form the H and M of Henri Matisse's name.
Its descriptive vocabulary that colour could visually translate a range of emotions which led to experimenting with new possibilities for color in art. The fauves did not attempt to express political statements, ethical opinions, or philosophical or psychological ideas in their paintings Instead they painted subjects that invoked feelings of pleasure, joy, and comfort. The fauves favoured intense colour and vigorous brush strokes. They never painted objects in their natural colours.
Why and how did these artists depart from naturalistic colors? Even if the subject matter of the Fauve painting is often traditional (for example, a portrait, a nude, a landscape or an interior), the Fauve colors were something different. In traditional art, both form and color are “right” or representational.
The artist starts with form and the form determines the color. Colour follows form; the artist cannot start with color. The traditional artist cannot use color alone as a means of expression. Therefore, instead of a naturalistic illusion, modern art often represents the artist’s subjective sensation.
Fauvism was inspired by Pointillism and Post-impressionist art. Its a type of expressionistic style with elements of post impressionism. The fauvism movement only lasted from 1903 to 1908, but the style influenced many artists in Europe and throughout the world. Fauvism also had a great impact on German Expressionism.
The Pool of London in 1906 by André Derain.
At first glance, the apparent freedom of his style seems to deny any skill or technique, but when you begin to analyse his effective use of visual elements you start to realize that there is an instinctive sensibility at work. The key to his success in using such exaggerated colors was the realization that he had to simplify his drawing. He understood that if he intensified the quality of color for expressive effect, he must reduce the amount of detail used in drawing the shapes and forms of the image.
Derain manages to balance the expressive and descriptive qualities of color in 'The Pool of London'. He uses the conflict between warm and cool colors to express the noise and activity of this busy dockyard. An illusion of depth in the painting is created by using stronger and warmer tones in the foreground, which gradually become weaker and cooler towards the background. This organized arrangement of tones in a landscape is called Aerial Perspective. The drawing of the image is typically simplified into shapes and forms whose details can be conveyed by unmodified brushstrokes of roughly the same size. This gives the painting an overall unity that you would not expect in a composition of such conflicting colors.
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