Posts Tagged ‘Cubism’

This post comes to us from artist and NBMAA docent Ronald Abbe.

Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, 1912 by Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) was among the most radical works exhibited at the 1913 Armory Show. Oil on canvas, 57 7/8 x 35 1/8 in. Philadelphia Museum of Art.

One hundred years ago New Yorkers reacted with shock and awe to the Armory Show of 1913. This was their first encounter with European modernism as represented most notably by Picasso and Matisse.  When the show moved on to Boston and Chicago the reception slipped to actual dismay.  Students at the Art Institute of Chicago burned paintings by Matisse (in effigy).


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Abstraction, 1913. Max Weber (b. 1881–1961). Pastel, charcoal, and collage on paper, 24 1/2 x 18 3/4 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, Charles F. Smith Fund, 1953.04.

Cubism and Abstraction, which developed in Europe in the early twentieth century, represented radical tendencies. The Cubists Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Georges Braque (1882-1963) were considered revolutionaries because they reinterpreted space and form without regard for traditional perspective. They were motivated by a wish to replace objective reality with a subjective approach, triggered in part by their study of ancient Spanish sculpture and African art. The writings of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) freed them to explore the subconscious. In response to this movement, Max Weber (1864–1920) visited Paris and emulated the French Cubists and Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) opened his New York gallery 291, which became a beacon for radical modernists. He championed the young Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986), whom he married in 1924, and together they set about creating a new vocabulary for American art characterized by simplification and strong emotional content. Sculptor William Zorach (1887–1966) was inspired by his study of indigenous art from Africa and Central and South America. Alexander Calder (1898–1976) declared that the underlying concept of his abstract mobiles was the organization of the universe. The American Abstract Artists, a group formed in 1936, espoused completely nonobjective art. (more…)

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