Modernist Art in Europe 1910-25by Robert l. Herbert
Herberts thesis of his essay is to investigate the arrival of the machine and modern art and its complexities. During WWI, modernist painting and sculpture paid major attention to machinery, science and industry. Modern art during that time has become a central factor in our culture due to its dominance in public art, museums, media and literature. Herbert brings in background information and stated the avant-garde of Pisarro, van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, etc. The industrial revolution had a stronger grip on society during the 19th century, and during this time, modern art was associated with primitive nature. During the rise of industrial art their was a rise of landscapes and paintings of rural everyday life. Also, the new technique and style which became the handcraft to modern art was so avant-garde from the academic art. Modern art was involved with cubism, futurism and vorticism. He explains that all of these arts consisted of the importance of handcraft, creativity, individuality, and original expression. Herbert keeps bringing in the fact the machine was the leading sign of modernity. There was no more of a gap between handwork and the machine. Also, that the machine became so important in modern art because it was now a part of daily urban life, due to subways, telephones, automobiles, sewing machines, bicycles, televisions, cinema, and more advanced photographic and advertising developments. Herbert states that although the machine became a large factor in art that it was not incorporated in the work of all modernists, such as Picasso and Braque. The author then describes the modern art in epic cubism, and how it focused on geometric architecture and structures of mechanical parts with organic rhythm of daily life. And how Italian futurism dealt with modern city life, but with more immediacy, more implied movement. It was similar to cubist but with more calculations. The cubo-futurists in Russia combined machinery with modernity but did not require the latest industrial form. The Russian Revolution of 1917 led to the adoption of the abstract language. Artists were now considered constructor-inventor because they gave engineering a new creative form. But in France there was no equivalence to Bauhaus or the Constructivists schooling. The new artistic energies came from the vanguard. Its government did not want radical change. There was the vanguard embrace of modern industry with aesthetic clarity which is related to French culture. Herbert concludes that in modern art there was a very close relationship between art and industry which considering history was avant-garde for its time. I felt that this essay was very clear and to the point. I found it easy to read and somewhat enjoyable. Although I wasnt too sure of Herberts main thesis I found his essay interesting.