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What is modernism? Why did artists in the late nineteenth century stop making realistic images of the world and instead start experimenting with form to the point that they invented abstract art? Modernist art arose in the historical period we call modernity, defined by industrialization; urbanization; colonization; revolution and mass war; the rise of mass commodity culture, spectacle and technology; and the emergence of the art market as we know it today. Modernist art sometimes optimistically mimics the new forms of mass visual culture but more commonly reworks or rejects those forms in a critical commentary on their inequities. From the late 19th C to the mid-20th C, primarily in Europe, we will examine the key modernist “isms”: Impressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Suprematism, Purism, Constructivism, and Socialist Realism, as well as the rise of abstraction culminating in Abstract Expressionism.
Tableau No. 2 with Red, Blue, Black, and Gray
oil on canvas
75 x 65 cm