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1900 - 1920

The crucial years for the modern movement in painting are from 1905 to 1914. It is more straightforward to analyze the whole first half of the nineteenth century in terms of move-ments, styles and techniques than these early years of this century. But the twentieth century only rejected the values of the nineteenth when it had received as much stimulus as it could take.

From 1800 to 1850 in France the three outstanding styles were the Neo-Classicism of Jacques Louis David (1748-1825) and Jean-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) which, from a technical viewpoint, invariably reveals a smooth paint surface beneath the glossy var-nish and a look of high finish; the Romantic-ism of Theodore Gericault (1791-1824) and Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) which gener-ated a more imaginative and expressive use of oil paint; and finally the Realism of Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) in which paint was applied thickly in a straightforward, direct way. As the century progressed, many artists felt less and less need to build a painting up in successive layers according to the methods of the late medieval and early Renaissance masters.

Ingres created a personal, sensual style that moved away from the grand manner of late eigliteentli-centiiry Neo-Classicists, using line witli a new expressiveness and replacing tlie dramatic cross-lighting witli soft, full-face light and opaque shadows (which used non-traditional white). Tlie exposed canvas texture in Oedipus and the Sphinx (1828) was an Ingres innovation; it was unconventional among the Neo-Classicists wlio preferred a smooth finish.

Neo-Classicism continued to influence the teaching methods of the academies and the practice of academic artists. Very few non-academic modern artists have imitated the smooth, highly finished surface of Neo-Classicism. The masters of twentieth-century painting have tended to reject or ignore such methods and practices. A few, including Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), Max Ernst (1891-1976) and Yves Tanguy (1900-1955), did not even attend art academies or schools. On the other hand, an older more potent tradition of clas-sical art, which stresses form rather than sub-ject matter and is represented in seventeenth-century France by Nicolas Poussin (c 1594-1665), embedded itself in the modern move-ment in a new guise with Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), who insisted on structure in painting. At least one art historian, R. H. Wilenski, writ-ing in 1927, regarded Cezanne and the mod-ern movement as fundamentally classical. But Cezanne cannot be summed up by the word 'classical' and the highly eclectic modern movement owes more to Romantic painters.

The aim of Romanticism was the expression of emotion directly and subjectively through color and the actual handling of paint; an idea which Fauvism and German Expressionism brought to twentieth-century painting. The Romantic Movement also led by a different path, that of the imagination and literature, in the direction of Surrealism.

The idea behind Courbet's realism, the shockingly novel idea that art should be con-cerned with what is before the eyes and should be contemporaneous, found a twentieth-century counterpart, in a less legi-ble stylistic form, in Cubism (a fundamentally realist form with classical and Romantic affini-ties). But the way that Courbet applied paint was almost heavy-handed in its directness.

The second half of the nineteenth century in France is a much more complex period. There was an acceleration in the pace of stylistic change; styles and techniques began to multi-ply. The vocabulary of art criticism and art history responded with terms such as 'Impres-sionism', Tost-Impressionism', 'Expression-ism', 'Symbolism' and 'Neo-Impressionism' which tend to oversimplify what happened.

Gustave Coiirbet, the most influential Realist painter, chose subjects alien to both public and critics - middle- and working-class provincial people and rural themes - an employed a lively and uncompromising painting tecfinique which was highly innovative. In La Rencontre, painted in 1854, Courbet has omitted his normal practices of laying in a dark ground over the pale commercial priming, in order to convey the luminosity of the bright light of southern France. Courbet's paint surface were robust and he painted his shadows thickly and darkly. But his technique was basei on the tradition of chiaroscuro. He worke from dark to light; as a painter, he was, lie remarked, the equivalent of the sun lighting up a dark landscape.

Greek Slave (c 1896) by the French academist, Jean Leon Gerome. As a young man, Henri Rousseau was impressed by Gerome's work, and lie gave every inch of his canvases the same punctilious attention and loving execution. This example of ebauche in oil on canvas, displays Gerome's excellent draftsmanship and his careful establishment approach to art.

Year by year, painter by painter, the Im-pressionists modified their aims and tech-niques. In the area of brushwork the densely applied brushstrokes of Claude Monet (1840-1926) (in whose work Impressionism reached its highest point) have gained new significance in the light of American Abstract Ex-pressionist procedures of the 1940s. In the field of color, by lightening the palette, dismis-sing muddy and murky tones in favor of an array of clear, bright pigments, the Im-pressionists opened up immense color possibilities. These were exploited in different ways by four great painters reacting against the naturalistic aims of Impressionism -namely Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) and Georges Seurat (1859-1891). Cezanne turned Impress-ionism into something solid, monumental and profound which provided a basis for the Cubist revolution of 1907-1914. Impression-ism drew van Gogh into a passionately ex-pressive style which was highly influential on the Fauvist bombshell of 1905. Gauguin, by exploring the symbolic possibilities of color, was a precursor of the Symbolists.

The Symbolist painters, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898), Odilon Redon (1840-1916), Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) and their followers, aimed to express literary ideas by associations of form and color. They fore-shadowed the dream images of Surrealism. Gustave Moreau, whose own technique was idiosyncratic and prophetic of Surrealist pro-cedures, encouraged an individualistic and experimental attitude in his atelier among pupils such as Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and Georges Rouault (1871-1958). In 1891 Symbol-ist Maurice Denis (1870-1943) wrote, 'It must be recalled that a painting, before it is a war horse, a nude or some anecdote, is essentially a flat surface covered by color assembled in a certain order.' The importance of this often-quoted doctrine cannot be overestimated. A flat surface means a support. Color means paint. By focusing attention on the painter's materials and support, the statement contri-buted both to the theory and practice of mod-ern painting. It provided a theoretical justi-fication of so-called 'abstract art'; in the abs-ence of a figurative image, a painter is almost bound to explore the properties of materials with intensity.

The Neo-Impressionists or Divisionists, Seurat and Paul Signac (1863-1935), reacting against what they considered the Romantic element in Impressionist naturalism, de-veloped the more scientific technique of Poin-tillism, in which color was applied to the can-vas in separate dabs or dots of color. From the strictly technical point of view this method of applying oil paint to canvas was the most radical departure of all in the nineteenth cen-tury; more radical than Fauvism to which it helped give birth. The procedure had as much in common with the method of the mosaic artist as with traditional oil painting. Seurat's use of the dot technique was probably in-spired by such contemporary developments in color printing as the chromotypogravure.


The Fauve explosion

Fauvism was the first major shock to be admi-nistered by painters to the twentieth-century public. The 1905 Salon d'Automne exhibition of work by Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958), Andre Derain (1880-1954), Matisse and their followers was dubbed an 'orgy of pure colors' by critic Louis Vauxcelles, who went on to name the group Fauves (wild beasts) when he described a restrained sculpture of the torso of a child as 'Donatello among the fauvcs'.

The Fauves were a loose association of painters: Matisse, Albert Marquet (1875-1947), Charles Camoin (1879-1965) and Henri Manguin (1874-1949) worked in the studio of Gustave Moreau; Georges Braque (1882-1963), Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) and Othon Friesz (1879-1949) were from Le Havre; Derain and Vlaminck were from Chatou; Kees van Dongen (1877-1968) came from Rotterdam; Jean Puy (1876-1960), a relatively tame Fauvehad m et Matisse at the Academic Carriere in 1899. Fauvism's later influence was international, affecting Expressionism in Germany and such artists as Alfred Maurer (1868-1932) in America, and the English painters Augus-tus John (1878-1961) and Matthew Smith (1879-1959).

The various individual styles and tech-niques of the Fauves reflected a common aim, the subjective expressiveness of color. Fauvism can be seen not only as an attack on the official art of the academies, but also as yet another reaction against Impressionism in the wake of a series of Paris exhibitions of the great Post-Impressionist painters in the early 1900s. Although considered revolutionary, Fauvism was little more than a combination of the culminating elements in the work of Cezanne, van Gogh, Gauguin and Seurat. No new subject matter was introduced and the subjects - landscape, portrait or still life - re-mained legible despite the nondescriptive liberties that were taken with color. Like Im-pressionism, Fauvism was largely a matter of oil on canvas, the whiteness of the primed canvas often being allowed to enhance the in-tensity and consequent drama of color.

This color was not used for symbolic pur-poses, nor was it used arbitrarily; it was used in response to pictorial demands such as the construction of space. Representational de-mands continued to be set and Fauve paint-ings often retained a rough tonal accuracy in relation to naturalistic vision, an accuracy that is easily apparent when Fauve paintings are reproduced in black and white. Although Matisse, the leader of the Fauves, did sculp-ture during this period, the term Fauvist is not used to describe sculpture, because color not form was the instrument of Fauvism.

Derain, who introduced Vlaminck to Matisse, looked back on Fauvism as in part a violent response to the challenge of photo-graphy. It was, according to the critic and poet Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918), the period of Derain's 'youthful truculence'. The inten-tion of the Fauves was to use color like 'sticks of dynamite' (to use Derain's own words); to express the joy of life (Joic de Vivre [1905-6] was the title of one of Matisse's early paintings); and to prove a dictum of Matisse's that 'exactitude is not truth'.

By the time he painted Large Bathers (1898-1905), Cezanne had broken down everything he painted - a landscape, a still life, the human figure - into a series of facets in order to express the relationship between three-dimensional reality and two-dimensional representation. Each facet expressed the object's color, the effect of light and shade on it, and molded it so that it had a realistic feel. As well, each facet imposed a certain order on a fundamentally abstract structure.

By 1905 when Paul Signac painted Saint-Tropez, the Customs House Pathway, he had. been much influenced by the work of his friend Georges Seurat. Like Seurat and the other Neo-Impressionists, Signac displayed a scientific approach to painting. Because liglit penetrates transparent colors before being reflected back to tlie eye, matt opaque lines were used to obtain far greater light-reflective luminosity. Signac applied mosaic-like blocks of color, varying in tone and hue, which built up the formal structure of the subject. The object was to obtain brighter and clearer secondary colors.


The emergence of Cubism

A radically new vision tends to produce a new style and a new technique. Cubism, as it came to be known, has been the outstanding revolu-tion of vision and style in this century. It re-jected the monocular perspective that had dominated Western art since the Renaissance and created a new kind of pictorial space.

Cubism was the invention of two men, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Georges Bra-que. A third important figure, Juan Gris (1887- 1927) joined them in 1911, about four years af-ter Cubism began.Thereafter, the list of paint-ers in Paris and abroad who either became overt Cubists or were influenced by the move-ment up until 1920 becomes enormous. Cub-ism was a movement that developed dynami-cally from painting to painting.


Early Cubism

Historians have divided the Cubist revolution into three main phases. To the early phase be-long two oil paintings: Picasso's Les demoiselles d 'Avignon(1907) and a famous Braque Nude (1907). These paintings show the influence of Cezanne in the analysis and simplification of form. In Les demoiselles d'Avignon there are other more 'primitive' aspects which can be traced back to an Iberian sculpture and North African masks. Such primitive and exotic sculpture combined a strong conceptual (as opposed to c perceptual) element, with the expressive pow er exerted by magic. Les demoiselles d 'Avignon is a figurative work showing five nudes in a room in a brothel. The painting underwent numerous changes in progress. Original!) there was to have been a sailor seated among the nude women and a man carrying a skul symbolizing death. The pictorial space remains shallow. The color is less explosive thar in Fauvism, but is not so far from Gauguin Having completed this exploratory and expressive painting, Picasso put it away and it remained unseen for years.

In the second phase of Cubism (the first phase perhaps of Cubism proper), known as Analytical Cubism, the use of color was re-strained as Picasso and Braque concentrated on form. In 1908 Braque went to L'Estaque, near Marseilles and the landscapes he pro-duced show, in a less dramatic way than Picasso's Les demoiselles d 'Avignon, the combined in-fluences of Cezanne's analytical method and the force of African sculpture.

The jury of the Salon d'Automne, which in-cluded Matisse, rejected these landscapes. Matisse mentioned to Louis Vauxcelles that Braque had sent in paintings with 'little cubes'. Vauxcelles referred to them as bizarreries antiques (cubical oddities) and the movement was soon christened Cubism.

Gauguin painted Girl Holding a Fan in 7903, the year he died in the Marquesas Islands in the Pacific. He was disillusioned with the Western worhi and its relentless destruction of other civilizations in order to impose its own ideas. He conveyed tins deep-seated pessimism in his paintings, where oflier artists, confronted with the same subjects, would fiave seen only the romantic and the exotic. The brooding, inert figure in Girl Holding a Fan is painted in the pure expressive colors typical of Gauguin, and later seen in the work of the Fauvists.

By 1908 Picasso's still lifes had reached a point near to Braque s landscapes, and the two painters began to work closely together in a spirit of friendship and creative rivalry. The austere, at times almost monochromatic, ele-ment in Analytical Cubism, the restriction of the palette to black and white, subdued ochres, greys and greens was a revolt against the sensuous appeal of the Expressionist styles current, including the Fauves.


Analytical Cubism

Analytical Cubism was concerned with representing nature in the sense of taking a given subject to pieces then reconstructing it again. From various viewpoints it took elements from a still life and then rearranged them in a new order. In the process, a whole new pictorial architecture of interlocking planes was created. This new code for reality included elements of precision and Picasso boldly challenged the Renaissance with his work and the words: 'It is impossible to ascer-tain the distance from the tip of the nose to the mouth in Raphael. I should like to paint pic-tures in which that would be possible.'

In 1911 Braque began to introduce letters into pictures. A letter belongs to another information code system. At the same time printed words are very much a part of ordinary visible life casually observed in a cafe window or a newspaper headline. From here it was a small step to include a real object in the picture.


Cubist collage and Synthetic Cubism

The second, or synthetic phase of Cubism evolved out of the new technique of papier colle (colle means glue) begun by Braque in 1912. Newspaper was a favorite early ingredient, and wallpaper, oil cloth, matchboxes and programs followed. Picasso added other elements such as plaster. Braque combined the new materials with drawing in charcoal or pencil, while Picasso and Gris combined them with oil painting. The almost monochromatic color soon gave way to bright colors.

The detail of Seurat's Seated Boy with a Straw Hat (1883- 1884), was a study for one of tlic seated figures in Bathing, Asnieres. T?ir black crayon drawing on coarse paper shows rigorous tonal modeling technique. Instead of precise outline and distinct hatching, there are subtle gradations of tone, achieved by varying the pressure of the soft, dense crayon.

While Seurat's drawings concentrate on sculpting tonal form, his early oils such as Bathing, Asnieres (1883-1884) celebrate colors in nature. Seurat used his already distinctive and individualistic cross-hatching of color. Tins detail shows how Seurat worked the foreground figures and garments heavily in opaque layers, while the background is thinner and paler.

Gradually pictorial composition became more important than representation, although Cubism was always a realist movement. The physical objects used in the paintings were real in themselves, rather than merely a coded imitation (image). An important later de-velopment was the ambiguous game the artists played when they returned to painting in oil: they simulated the pnpiers colics or collages. Here the interaction of technique and style reaches a climax. A further development was the thickening of pigment with sand and other materials.

From 1918 onwards, Braque began to ex-plore the expressive textural qualities of his materials, but by 1920 - although still influen-tial over half a century later- the movement of Cubism itself had run its course.



On first investigation the possibility of giving a summary account of the techniques of the Futuristic movement in painting looks prom-ising. On 11 April 1910 the Futurists Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), Giacomo Balla (1871-1958), Luigi Russolo (1885-1947) and Gino Severini (1883-1966), published the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting. Unfortunately for present purposes there is nothing technical in the practical sense about this manifesto. The closest it gets to expressing plastic aims are in such phrases as: 'The gesture for us will no longer be a fixed moment of universal dynamism: it will be decisively the dynamic sensa-tion made eternal ... a galloping horse has not four legs, but twenty and their movements are triangular ... a portrait in order to be a work of art cannot and must not resemble the sitter ...
To paint a figure you must not paint it: you must paint the atmosphere around it.' These phrases are a clue to the styles of Futurism painting, but to understand the absence of i practicality or rhetorical tone, it is necessary to I know the origins of Futurism.

Both Fauvism and Cubism, though very i different, were movements rooted in the visual arts. In contrast. Futurism was a pole-mic explosion, an attack on Italy's cultural stagnation initiated by a poet and propagan-dist. F. T. Mannetti (1876-1944) published his first Futurist manifesto on 20 February 1909 in the newspaper Le Fi^aro. It applauded speed, the machine and violence, including war, and scorned traditional social values. Professors, archeologists and antiquarians were especial targets. Marinetti declared that: 'A racing motor, its frame adorned with great pipes, like snakes with explosive breath ... which seems to run on shrapnel, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace'. The 1914-18 war was to put an end to the movement. While it lasted, Futurism took many outward forms including a hybrid form of writing; painting such as
Free-word Painting (1915) by the Neopolitan poet Francesco Canguillo; and the sculpture of
Boccioni, whose Unique Form of Continuity in
Space (1913) is widely regarded as Futurism's outstanding work of art. The movement ex-tended into theater and cinema, music and architecture. The architecture of Antonio
Sant'Elia (1888-1916) never left the drawing board, but its concepts influenced the artists of the Russian avant-garde. Sant'Elia envisaged a modern city where, he said, 'the houses will last for a briefer period of time than ourselves.
Each generation will have to build its own city.'

Futurist painting was stylistically diverse, too diverse to permit useful generalizations. In the realm of technique, but buried beneath the rhetoric and bombast of the Tccfinical Manifesto, was at least one original plastic aim, which distinguished Futurist painting from rival styles or 'isms'. This aim was to represent actual movement by repetition of the image in a given painting, aided by an Italian version of Seurat's Divisionism. Interestingly, the Futur-ist painters denied that they had been influ-enced in their depiction of movement by the photographs of Eadweard Muybridge (1830- 1904) and E. J. Marey (1830-1904).

If the Futurist contribution to the techniques of painting is slight, their achievement in the sphere of techniques of propaganda is more assured. Futurism was speedily interna-tionalized. Its repercussions were felt in Russia, in England and in France; it has even been claimed that Futurist ideas gave a fillip to the development of Synthetic Cubism. Certainly, Futurist painting was an attempt to bring art up to date with what the movement considered to be modern life.


Other movements in Paris and Munich

Only when Fauvism (expressive color). Cubism (form) and Futurism (movement) have been understood is it possible to appreciate the many subsequent developments in style and technique during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Every subsequent movement has points of contact with these three styles, particularly Cubism.
In Paris, Guillaume Apollinaire coined the term Orphism to describe the paintings of Robert Delaunay (1885-1941),exhibited at the Section d'Or in 1912, which he saw as an offshoot of Cubism and moving in the direc-tion of non-representational color abstraction. However, Delaunay himself saw his inter-penetrating and revolving areas of pure color as originating more in the Neo-Impressionism of Seurat than in Cubism. Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979), Francis Picabia (1878-1953), Duchamp, Fernand Leger (1881-1955) and Frank Kupka (1871-1957) were also associated with the movement.


German Expressionism

Stylistically, German Expressionism has much in common with Fauvism, including an in-terest in Neo-Impressionism and van Gogh,although the artists of Die Briicke, an associa-tion established in Dresden in 1905, were as much influenced by the great Norwegian Ex-pressionist painter, Edvard Munch (1863-1944). The founder members of this group in-cluded Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938), Erich Heckel (1883-1970) and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976), three architecture stu-dents who turned to painting, lithography and woodcuts. With the exception of Kirchner they were self-taught as artists and they were later joined by Emil Nolde (1867-1956).

Marcel Duchamp used various references when working on Nude Descending a Staircase (1912), in winch the segmented figure is reduced to simple geometrical forms, and the fragmented nude is multiplied and elaborated to suggest spiraling movement. Preliminary studies and the painting itself clearly show the influence of the work of Etienne Marey, Paul Richer and Ea.dwea.rd Muybridge. Richer published his Physiologic artistique 1'homme en mouvement in 1895. Tlie drawing, Figure Descending a Staircase, based on chronophotographs from the book, reveals how influential such work was to Duchamp.

The image of Chronophotographie d'un escrimeur (1891), is by the French photographer Etienne Marey who developed the technique of chronophotography. It is a method of producing multiple images on a single plate which made it possible to record the movements of a man boxing, a bird in flight, or a child jumping. Marey drew graphs tracing the patterns and rhythms of movement recorded on the chronophotographs. These became the source of inspiration for a number of artists. Duchamp made no secret of the fact that Marey's chronophotographs and subsequent diagrams provided the initial impetus for the paintings he produced which attempted to record movement, and also the passage of time.

Man walking down an inclined plane by Eadweard Muy bridge, the photographer wlio pioneered the recording of movement. His first experiments, pubhshed in 1878 and 1879, analyzed the locomotion of a galloping horse in a series of consecutive photographs. He tlien went on to record the movements of humans and animals involved in various everyday activities.

The German Expressionist Movement reached a high point in Munich in 1911 on the formation of the Blaue Reiter group. The prin-cipal artists were the Russian emigre Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Franz Marc (1880-1916), Gabriele Munter (1877-1962), August Macke (1887-1914) and the Swiss artist Paul Klee (1879-1940). Marc and Macke died during World War I and the group disintegrated.



Vorticism in England, like Futurism in Italy, was an attack on local cultural apathy. It was similar in tone to Futurism in some of its ver-bal manifestations, such as the thick comba-tive magazine with a red cover. Blast! A Review of the Great English Vortex known as the 'Puce Monster', which was edited by writer and painter Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957).

Vorticism developed a characteristic paint-ing style in which the diagonal was stressed rather like an imaginary plastic equivalent of a vortex. It was a style that took much from Cubism and Futurism.

The artists involved included Wyndham Lewis, Edward Wadsworth (1889-1949), Frederick Etchells (1886-1973), David Bom-berg (1890-1957), William Roberts (1895-1980) and in sculpture, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915) and Jacob Epstein (1880-1959). A high proportion of the Vorticists' oil paintings, gouache and watercolors have been lost or destroyed, but virtually all Wadsworth s black and white and colored woodcuts survive.


Developments in pre-Revolutionary Russia

Rayonnism was the style practiced by Mikhail Larionor (1881-1964) and Natalia Gontcharavo (1881-1962) from 1912 to 1914. It aimed to be a synthesis of Cubism, Futurism and Orphism.

In 1915 Suprematism was launched by Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935), who believed that the expression of pure artistic feeling was all that was of value in art. Social and political events and representation were thought to be outside its sphere. Malevich acknowledged a debt to Cubism and Futurism but concen-trated on elementary geometric shapes in his paintings - the purest of which he considered to be the square. Between 1913 and 1919 he graduated from using black and white to a series of white on white paintings. The white square can only be distinguished from its white ground by the different textures created by the brushstrokes.

Another Russian movement, Constructiv-ism, can be seen as having grown out of Cub-ist collage. Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953), the founder of the movement, was familiar with developments in painting in Western Europe. Tatlin used a variety of materials such as wood, plaster, tin and glass in order to do away with pictorial illusion. He developed a doctrine of the 'culture of materials'. The two other important Russian Constructivist artists were Antoine Pevsner (1886-1962) and his brother Naum Gabo (1890-1977). They too took their cue from Cubism but supported the Futurist emphasis on movement in space rather than volume, and favored transparent materials such as perspex. By 1922 the Con-structivist Movement lost its place as the dominant style in post-Revolutionary Russia.



Many artists and commentators have stated that there is no such thing as pure abstraction in art: a picture must be based on something in the visible world. Another argument is that all good art (given that art depends partly on formal qualities) is abstract. The major and characteristic difference between ancient non-figurative decorative painting and twentieth-century art has been non-figurative abstraction. It is useful to divide this sort of abstraction into two parts: the Expressive or Expressionist, and the Geometrical.

Auguste Forel (1910) was painted in oils on canvas by Oskar Kokosclika (1886-1980). Although tlie artist was only 24 wiren he completed this portrait, it is a surprisingly intimate study of the old man. Later in life, Kokosclika's aims altered quite dramatically: using bright, even luminous colors, lie developed an Expressionist style, and before tlie outbreak of tlie Second World War produced some imaginative political allegories.

Expressive Abstract can trace its origins back to late nineteenth-century ideas, but Wassily Kandinsky in about 1911 is generally credited with being the most important artist to produce a consciously abstract work, a work which in the artist's view is freed from land-scape or figure or still life - the usual subject matter of painting. For Kandinsky such a work approached the condition of music.

Geometrical Abstraction originated in Rus-sian Suprematism and Constructivism, and found its greatest figure in the Neo-Plasticism of Piet Mondrian(1872-1944). From the technical point of view, there are as many ways of applying paint to a sur-face as there are abstract painters; abstract art before 1920 produced no technical change as radical as that of Cubist collage.


Dada, Duchamp and Metaphysical painting

Marcel Duchamp, a leading force in Dada, has often been called a one-man movement. Dada originated before 1920 but it is more conve-nient to discuss it in relation to Surrealism. Metaphysical painting (Pittura Metafisica) dates from 1916 when Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978), perhaps the greatest single non-Surrealist influence on Surrealist painting, met Carlo Carra (1881-1966) in the military hospital at Ferrara.

Wyndham Lewis's cover for the second and last issue of the Vorticists' magazine Blast!, which he edited. Stimulated partly by exhibitions of Italian Futurists in 1912 and 1913, and the personal appearance of Marinetti in London, the British Vorticist movement was short-lived. Its name came from a statement of Boccioni, that all artistic creation must originate in an emotional vortex.



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