Here are the art history terms to an upcoming Modern Art History exam. I find Art History so fascinating, I thought I’d share. Most of these terms cover the time between 1915 and 1930.
Catalan Modernism – cultural movement associated with the search for Catlan national identity. Close equivalent to Art Nouveau/Vienna Secession. Centered in Barcelona, best known for Architect Antoni Gaudí.
biomimetic architecture - architecture that studies nature’s best ideas and imitates these designs.
Art Nouveau – international style of art/architecture/decor meaning “new art”. Inspired by natural forms and structures, architects tried to harmonize with the natural environment. Furniture was designed according to the whole building, design being made part of everyday life.
Vienna Secession – movement to include painters/sculptors/architects. First president was Gustav Klimt. Objected to prevailing conservatism in Vienna, concerned with exploring possibilities in art outside of confines of tradition. Embraced total design. Wanted to integrate high+low for a better society. Others included Hoffman, Olbrich.
Workshops/Work alliances – Art schools where hands on learning was encouraged. Trained architects, designed schools, embraced machines, allowed for experimentation, often published ideas/theories.
Prairie style – architectural style pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago. Emphasized horizontal lines, overhanging eaves, the open plan, and the fireplace as the heart of the home.
cantilever – architectural principle of suspending a plane with high tensile strength by the use of a counterweight (ie: hanging a textbook over the edge of your desk by placing a counterweight on the textbook).
Austrian Modernism – extreme functionalism in Austria, fathered by Otto Wagner: “necessity alone is the ruler of art”.
functionalism – idea that form follows function.
Expressionist architecture – curvy sweeping lines, futuristic, play of light/shadow, sculptural. Think Poelzig’s Great Theater with muqarnas.
Cabaret Voltaire – place where Dada artists met to do poetry, music, skits. Many writers, some visual elements.
Zurich Dada - movement of art/writing that is anti-rational, iconoclastic, embraces spontaneity, childish, nihilistic, non-utopian, yet still avant garde.
brutisme- noise music of the Zurich Dada movement, played at the meetings, embracing chance.
New York Dada – Headed by Duchamp in New York when Cubists reject his Nude Descending a Staircase. Duchamp realizes the values of intention and context in art. Movement also included Man Ray.
readymade – a common manufactured object elevated to the level of an art object. Proposed the idea that art is “designated” as well as painted/constructed… intention, presentation, and context make an artwork.
Berlin Dada - Richard Huelsenbeck returns to Germany in 1918 to form Berlin Dada. Starting to publish ideas. Forms “Club Dada”. This type of Dada is most political of all, criticizing military/business interests.
photomontage – collage composed of mostly photographic or print materials from mass-produced sources, roots in Victorian popular activity of scrapbooking.
mechanomorphic – depicting humans as machines, especially sexualized.
Suprematism – art movement started by Malevich, reducing painting to simple geometric shapes and colors with the intent of starting at zero to get to a more supreme reality. Art about art.
non-objectivity – not depicting a subject in art/having no subject/object as a starting point.
Constructivism – art about making something from scratch or building something, eliminating the distinctions between technology, science, and art. Avant Garde and experimental.
productivism – the idea of putting art into production for everyday life, intent of making good design a part of each person’s life.
agitprop – derived from “agitation” and “propaganda”, describing stage plays, pamphlets, motion pictures, and other art forms with an explicitly political message. Started in communist Russia.
De Stijl - dutch for “the style” refers to the dutch group who started Neoplasticism, often used to refer to the style itself.
Neoplasticism - seeks to express utopian ideal of order, advocating pure abstraction and universality by a reduction of art and design to form and color. (Piet Mondrian, Theo Van Doesburg, Rietveld)
Bauhaus – was a school in Germany that combined arts and crafts. Gropius said: “The ultimate aim is building… decoration was once the highest art… it is to be rescued by designers/architects/artists… the true spirit of design is lost in “Salon” art…. schools must return to the workshop” Teachers here included: Klee, Kandinsky, Albers, Moholy-Nagy, and Breur. The influence of German Expressionism, while strong in early Bauhaus, had waned by the time the school relocated to Dessau, while it had become completely constructivist. Movement scattered due to Nazi opposition, spreading their ideas.
kinetic art – motion art, sometimes mechanomorphic, combining machine-like and human motions, as exemplified by the “Light-Space Modulator” by Moholy-Nagy.
Surrealism – writers/artists, ideas borrowed from symbolism, romanticism, dada, and Freudian psychology. Quote: “the reality we live in is impoverished due to western culture’s obsession with reason… we want to achieve a higher reality, a sur-reality.” Highly organized by the obsessive writer Andre Breton.
automatism – automatic painting, embracing the doodle/chance accidents/paint drips; then stepping back to analyze the loose lines, elaborating on what you find.
dream imagery – Several terms to know about dreams and the Surrealists: condensation (one object=many ideas), displacement (censor objects of real significance), representation (thought/idea translated to visual images), symbols (replace action/person/idea), secondary elaboration (make story out of various elements).
Surrealist object – visual puns, like a readymade, but there is more intention and craft into the changing of the manufactured objects, often have many layers of meaning.
gender ambiguity – refers to a person of unknown gender. Blurring the lines between male/female.
Mexicanidad – the collective identity of all the people of Mexico, “mexican-ness”.
Santeria – Afro-Cuban religion in which humans aspire to contact God-spirits. Use masks to blend real and spiritual worlds in a trance-like state.
Mexican Muralism – dominant form of art in Mexico after the revolution. Considered art for the people, it was funded by government and painted in public spaces. Portrayed heros as everyday people, tapped into mexicanidad. Diego Rivera is a famous Mexican Muralist.
corrido – folk song/ballad usually about oppression, history, and daily life for peasants.
Harlem Renaissance – 1914ish, African-Americans migrate from South to North to create a renaissance of art, music, literature, and entertainment concentrated in Harlem. Celebrate their prosperity.