Chapter 19
The Twentieth Century: The Early Years
The Fauves
In 1905, the first signs of this specifically twentieth-century movement in
painting appeared in Paris. In that year, a group of young painters
under the leadership of Henri Matisse exhibited canvases so simplified
in design and so shockingly bright in color that a startled critic
described the artists as fauves (wild beasts). The Fauves were heavily
inspired by non-Western art. In African fetishes, in Polynesian
decorative wood carvings, and in the sculptures and textiles of the
ancient cultures of Central and South America, Fauve artists saw
unexpected shapes and colors that suggested new ways of
communicating emotion. These discoveries led them individually into
paths of free invention. They produced pieces of great spontaneity
and verve, with rich surface textures, lively linear patterns, and boldly
clashing primary colors.
In this work, Derain rejects the harmonies of Impressionism, so expressive of
atmospheric and light conditions, in favor of a distorted perspective
emphasized by the contrast of the non-naturalistic colors against the dark
accents of the arches. Here, color no longer describes the local tones of an
object; instead, it creates the expressive content of the picture,
foreshadowing later nonobjective works whose entire content is the
interaction of color and form.
Andre Derain
London Bridge
Henri Matisse
The Green Stripe (Madame
German Expressionism
• The Bridge
Expressionist Ernst Kirchner was the bedrock of this organization. He
described the lofty goals of Die Brucke in this statement:
“With a profound belief in growth, a belief in a new generation of
creators and appreciators, we summon the entire younger generation-and as the youth which carries within it the future, we wish to provide
ourselves with a sphere of activity opposed to the entrenched and
established tendencies. Everyone belongs to us who portrays his
creative impulses honestly and directly.”
• The Blue Rider
This organization was known for its representation of the human race
as degenerate and society as corrupt, fronted by Franz Marc, who
goes so far in his distaste of humanity as to replace it with animals in
his pictures, finding the animal superior in beauty, strength,
innocence and naturalness. This transformation soon led to total
The Bridge
Die Brucke artists created
scenes in which harsh colors,
aggressively brushed paint,
and distorted form expressed
their feelings about the
injustices of society.
Here, steep perspective,
jaggedly angular forms, acrid
colors, and haunted people
suggest the brittleness and
fragility of life in Berlin as Europe
moved closer to war.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Street, Berlin
Emil Nolde (1827-1956)
The Blue Rider
Franz Marc
The Great Blue
Kandinsky was Marc’s
friend and co-founder
of Der Blaue Reiter
group. The progression
of his work from
representation into total
abstraction and
nonobjectification is an
art history landmark.
Kandinsky carried his
research into the
emotional and
psychological properties
of color, line, and shape
to the point that subject
matter and
elements are entirely
Wassily Kandinsky
Blue Mountain
Kandinsky carried his research into the emotional and psychological
properties of color, line, and shape to the point that subject matter and
representational elements are entirely eliminated. Now that abstract art has
become such a part of our experience, we tend to forget the courage such
a step required and the creative imagination needed to undertake such a
completely new direction in the art of painting.
Wassily Kandinsky
Sketch I for
Composition VII
Amedeo Modigliani (1884 1920)
“What I want to show in my work is the idea which hides itself behind so-called reality.
I am seeking for the bridge which leads from the visible to the invisible, like the
famous cabalist who once said, ‘if you wish to get hold of the invisible you must
penetrate as deeply as possible into the visible’… What helps me most in this task is
the penetration of space. Height, width and depth are the three phenomena which I
must transfer into one plane to form the abstract surface of the picture, and thus to
protect myself from the infinity of space… When spiritual, metaphysical, material, or
immaterial events come into my life, I can only fix them by way of painting. It is not
the subject that matters but the translation of the subject into the abstraction of the
surface by means of painting.” ~Max Beckmann
The New Objectivity
Max Beckmann
José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949)
Diego Rivera (1886-1957)
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
Abstract art in its first official manifestation, Cubism, represents a radical
turning point in the history of Western art. Optical pictorialism is rejected
for compositions of forms abstracted from the world we conventionally
perceive and reproduce within a picture frame. The continuous optical
spread is shattered into its many constituent features, which are then
recomposed with a new logic of design, without reference to the
original optical unit.
•Pablo Picasso
•Georges Braque
•Analytic Cubism
•Synthetic Cubism
Picasso in his Studio
Pablo Picasso
Family of
Pablo Picasso
Self-portrait with Palette
Pablo Picasso
Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon)
Georges Braque
Houses at L’estaque
Analytic Cubism
Developed jointly by
Picasso and Braque, these
artists analyzed the forms
of their subjects from every
possible vantage point
and to combine the
various views into one
pictorial whole.
Paul Cezanne
Can you see the influence
Cezanne had on Braque
and Cubism in general?
Georges Braque
The Portuguese
Pablo Picasso
Glass and Bottle of Suze
Synthetic Cubism
In this new phase, cubism no
longer relied on a
decipherable relation to the
visible world. Paintings and
drawings were constructed
from objects and shapes cut
from paper or other materials
to represent parts of a subject.
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Mandolin and Clarinet
A three-dimensional
composition made from
various materials such as
found objects, paper, wood,
or cloth--a sculptural
Pablo Picasso
Bull’s Head
Marcel Duchamp
Nude Descending a Staircase
This painter and influential theorist
attempted to reconcile Analytical
Cubism with the representation of
motion. In Nude Descending a
Staircase, which caused an uproar of
negative criticism, Duchamp sets the
dislocated panes of a single figure
into a time continuum, suggesting the
effect of a primitive motion-picture
More implied motion…
States of Mind:
The Farewells
Implied motion in
Umberto Boccioni
Unique Forms of
Continuity in Space
Implied motion
in light…
Giacomo Balla
Street Light
And even in the unseen wind.
Giacomo Balla
Abstract Speed
The Car Has
Joseph Stella (1880-1946)
Abstraction in Europe
• Nonobjective Art
The creators of such works strive--not always successfully--to eliminate
even the slightest reference to the world of perceived objects; they
want to have nothing to do with images, even fragments or traces of
them as in the residues of Cubist analysis. Rather than abstracting
forms from an image, they prefer an entirely fresh start, inventing and
constructing forms of the most elemental kind: geometrical--angular,
rectilinear, circular; mechanical; organic--rounded, soft-contoured,
cellular-like living organisms. According to those artists who think this
way, art must be pure form, free from any representation.
Naum Gabo
c. 1923
Gabo called himself a
Constructivist partly because he
built up his sculptures piece by
piece in space instead of
carving or modeling them in the
traditional way.
Piet Mondrian
The beginnings of supersimplification to achieve a
universal expression of perfect
Gerrit Rietveldt
Schroeder House
The architectural counterpart to Mondrian…
Schroder House Interior
Constantin Brancusi
Bird in Space
c. 1928
Brancusi sought in nature “what is
real… not the outward form, but the
idea, the essence of things.”
Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)
World War I stimulated this movement which protested against all art,
modern or traditional, as well as the civilization that produced it. Dada
was born of the war itself, and of the social, economic, and political
calamities that followed it. Humanity had never before witnessed such
wholesale slaughter on so grand a scale over such an extended period
of time. It was against the madness of war that the banner of Dada was
raised in disgust and protest. Dada is a nonsense word picked at
random from a French dictionary actually meaning a child’s hobbyhorse, but the word was sufficiently insignificant for the Dadaists’
contempt for significance. It was more of a mindset that a single,
identifiable style; wherever it arose, its artists were committed to
questioning everything about artistic expression.
Hugo Ball reciting the
sound poem “Karawane”
Hannah Hoch
Cut with the Kitchen Knife
Dada through the Last
Wiermar Beer Belly
Cultural Epoch of
John Heartfield
Have No Fear – He’s a
May 7, 1936
Marcel Duchamp
Found objects that
are exhibited as
works of art,
frequently after
being placed in a
new context with a
new title.
Man Ray
Cadeau (Gift)
The Surrealist movement was marked by its determined exploration
of ways to express in art the world of dreams and the unconscious.
The Surrealists borrowed many of the improvisational techniques of
the Dadaists, believing these to be important methods for engaging
the elements of fantasy and activating the unconscious forces that
lie deep within every human being.
Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Giorgio de Chirico
Melancholy and Mystery of a
Pittura Metafisica
Literally, metaphysical painting.
A style which evokes eerie
feelings of the subconscious.
Max Ernst The Horde 1927
In painting, the
process of
yielding oneself
to instinctive
motions of the
hands after
establishing a
set of
such as
medium or size
of the surface,
within which a
work is to be
carried out.
Joan Miro
Dutch Interior I
More Automatism…
This Belgian painter also expresses the Surrealist idea and method: the
dreamlike dislocation of image and meaning, and the putting together of
images and meanings that are totally unalike.
of Images
Rene Magritte
Euclidean Walks
Rene Magritte
Time Transfixed
Surrealist sculpture--more dislocation of image and meaning, or
in this case, function.
Power Point by Krysten Koehn
Fichner-Rathus, L. (2004). Understanding Art (Ed. 7). Belmont, CA:
Tansey, R. et al. (1996). Gardener’s Art Through the Ages (Ed.10). Orlando,
FL: Harcourt Brace.

Early 20th Century