A Picture Is A Poem Without Words


Let’s learn about 19th and early 20th century art – huzzah!
I’m not going to go too in-depth, just touching upon a few of the artistic movements and a major artist associated with it, but you get to look at some pictures, which is always fun =)

–> Realism as far as art is concerned, there were academies that judged art and mostly found: religion, landscapes, rich people, and battles.

  • “The Stone Breakers” by Gustave Courbet (1849) changed the way of art in this time period. Instead of following the grain, he showed commoners doing manual labor in the realm of beauty.

Courbet, 1859

–> Claude Monet was kind of the reigning champ here. In his “Impression: Sunrise” (1872), he focused on capturing light and a fleeting moment.

Monet, 1872

–> This movement focused a lot on death, Gothic aspects, and the supernatural. Arnold Böcklin’s “The Isle of the Dead” in 1881 was one that harbored a lot of attention. Personally, it’s not quite my taste, not enough bright colors. But hey, to each his own.

Böcklin, 1881

Art Nouveau
–> Alphonse Mucha was a leading artist of the Art Nouveau movement. In this movement, the boundary between common art and advertising was kind of blurred, which a cool new twist. It was also known to be in organic form, whatever that means (I’m not an artsy person – a lot of this is over my head, but I appreciate it nonetheless).

Mucha, 1896

Viennese Secession
–> The mentality of this movement was to each age its own art, with the phrase “let’s paint our moment” being a key phrase. A notable artist here is Gustav Klimt, with his “The Beethoven Frieze” in 1901-2.

–> Fauvism harbored an extreme rejection of sexual Victorian ideals, incorporating in the artwork a joyful display of the human body. Artists like Henri Matisse and his “Joy of Life” 1905-6 used dream-scape, vivid colors. Looks a little like this guy dropped a few too many…

Matisse, 1905-6

–> This is Pablo Picasso’s territory, painting a multitude of images like “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” in 1907. Cubism involved the painting of prostitutes, distorted shapes, African masks and unsettling “primitive art”. It also brought the issue of syphilis to the forefront, which is disturbing and gross.

Picasso, 1907

–> Futurists believed that war was “social hygiene”, a cleansing act that was necessary. In Futurism, artists like Giacomo Balla and his “Speed of a Motorcycle” in 1913 shows that speed and machines with emancipatory quality. It was a rush into the future and to get rid of the past.

Balla, 1913

… and finally…


–> Wassily Kandinsky’s work, which included “Untitled” of 1910 was big here. Expressionism was all about taking what art was about and flipping it on its head. It was what we think of as abstract art, and I personally think it’s awesomely crazy.

Kandinsky, 1910

Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the secrets of his soul, and shows to people these secrets which are common to all.    – Leo Tolstoy

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