Thursday, April 29, 2010

The following are a few terms that will most likely be reoccurring while I continue to write in this blog. I've tried to add a few different definitions, and then my interpretation of the definition since some terms can be a little confusing. I've added links to Wikipedia articles since they're the easiest to access, however, please be advised that Wikipedia isn't considered a reliable source and portions of their articles may be incorrect. However, I still feel they're worth looking over, especially since several reliable articles I could link are under restricted access or require payment, and that isn't what this blog is about!

Movement: Wikipedia Article. Def from Merriam-Webster: tendency, trend; a series of organized activities working toward an objective; also : an organized effort to promote or attain an end (the civil rights movement).

The way movements work in Art and Literature is that they're a collection of ideas and styles generally used by a group of people at a certain time (see specific movement examples bellow). How these movements work is that they're typically reactionary, either positively by building off of ideas of the previous movement, or negatively by doing the opposite of the previous movement. Cubism would be a negative reaction while Surrealism would be a positive reaction.

Art: Wikipedia Article. Def from Merriam-Webster: The conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.

This term can be really tricky to define as Art can be literally anything to anyone despite all these restrictive definitions we place on it (at least, this is what Modern Art is trying to say). My friend put it best when he said Art is something that has value. He meant it as being based on the value being defined by that particular person, but I'm going to take it further and say it also encompasses what we as a whole generally place value on. So while I as an individual devalue Jackson Pollock, collectively we all acknowledge that his art contains value, and therefore it is art.

Composition: Wikipedia Article. Def from Merriam-Webster: Arrangement into specific proportion or relation and especially into artistic form.

Composition is basically what the definition says, it's the different elements that make up the piece of art, typically visual elements. Examples of different kinds of elements would be the type of media used (pencil, ink, paint, etc), the imagery, and different types of styles and techniques.

Modern Art: Wikipedia Article. Def from Merriam-Webster: From Modernism: modern artistic or literary philosophy and practice; especially : a self-conscious break with the past and a search for new forms of expression.

So technically Modern Art refers to art done during the Modernist movement, but for the intent and purposes of this blog, I'm going to use it as a blanket term for what people generally perceive as Modern Art, which is more about how the art looks (any art that actually belongs to a different movement will be noted as such). This style is normally attributed to a certain amount of whimsy, crazy colors, no real definite figures (fairly abstracted imagery), and is often remarked as looking talentless or pointless as it strays far from the traditional art that we're familiar with.

Cubism: Wikipedia Article. Def from Merriam-Webster: A style of art that stresses abstract structure at the expense of other pictorial elements especially by displaying several aspects of the same object simultaneously and by fragmenting the form of depicted objects.

This movement is when the idea of abstraction starts and attempts to reconstruct figures with geometric shapes. It's redefines the notion of art and paves the way for Modern Art. Notable Cubist artists are Pablo Picaso and Georges Braque.

Surrealism: Wikipedia Article. Def from Merriam-Webster: The principles, ideals, or practice of producing fantastic or incongruous imagery or effects in art, literature, film, or theater by means of unnatural or irrational juxtapositions and combinations.

Surrealism manifested from Dadaism (a movement that began in Germany) and built off of many themes and ideas presented in Cubism, though more in theory rather than literal representation. The figures are easily identifiable, but often associated or put in fantastical elements (hence the term "surreal"). Freud was a major influence for this movement as Surrealists attempted to capture their unconscious thought and feelings (stream of consciousness) in their work. Notable Surrealist artists are Frida Kahlo, though she did not consider herself a Surrealist, and Salvador Dali of melting clocks fame.

Modernism: Wikipedia Article. Def from Merriam-Webster:
1 : a practice, usage, or expression peculiar to modern times
2 often capitalized : a tendency in theology to accommodate traditional religious teaching to contemporary thought and especially to devalue supernatural elements
3 : modern artistic or literary philosophy and practice; especially : a self-conscious break with the past and a search for new forms of expression

Modernism is probably the hardest term and movement to define as its representations involve rejection of an idea, and that idea doesn't necessarily need to be old. At its basis, it is a movement meant to define the break away from antiquity and traditions that were felt unnecessary for a society moving forward in a technological age (hence it being called "modern") and turned to a more scientific way of thinking. This is a loose explanation as to why much of the art produced during this time didn't employ the technical and thematic aspects, often doing the exact opposite, of the critically acclaimed works before it.

Post Modernism: Wikipedia Article. Def from Merriam-Webster:
1 : of, relating to, or being an era after a modern one
2 a : of, relating to, or being any of various movements in reaction to modernism that are typically characterized by a return to traditional materials and forms (as in architecture) or by ironic self-reference and absurdity (as in literature) b : of, relating to, or being a theory that involves a radical reappraisal of modern assumptions about culture, identity, history, or language

It's debatable on whether or not we are truly out of Modernism as Post Modernism shares some similar themes to its predecessor. The main retraction is that Post Modernism rejects the scientific way of thinking developed in the movement before it and often focuses on the relationships between gender, race, class, and so forth. However, many of those same themes are also explored in Modern works, hence why many feel that the line between Modernism and Post Modernism is significantly blurred.

More to come!


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