Darkness has a history and a uniquely modern form. Distinct from night, shadows, and artificial light, “artificial darkness” has been overlooked—until now. In fact, controlled darkness was essential to the rise of photography and cinema, science and spectacle, and a century of advanced art and film. Artificial Darkness is the first book to historicize and theorize this phenomenon and map its applications across a range of media and art forms.
In exploring how artificial darkness shaped modern art, film, and media, Noam M. Elcott addresses seminal and obscure works alongside their sites of production—such as photography darkrooms, film studios, and laboratories—and their sites of reception, including theaters, cinemas, and exhibitions. He argues that artists, scientists, and entertainers like Étienne-Jules Marey, Richard Wagner, Georges Méliès, and Oskar Schlemmer revolutionized not only images but also everything surrounding them: the screen, the darkness, and the experience of bodies and space. At the heart of the book is “the black screen,” a technology of darkness that spawned today’s blue and green screens and has undergirded numerous advanced art and film practices to this day.
Turning familiar art and film narratives on their heads, Artificial Darkness is a revolutionary treatment of an elusive, yet fundamental, aspect of art and media history.
American and Israeli scholars examine how 19th and 20th century artists have responded to their jewishness through their art.
Complex Identities is a joint effort by American and Israeli scholars who ask challenging questions about art as formed by society and ethnicity. Focusing on nineteenth– and twentieth–century European, American, and Israeli artists, the contributors delve into the many ways in which Jewish artists have responded to their Jewishness and to the societies in which they lived, and how these factors have influenced their art, their choice of subject matter, and presentation of their work.
The contributions reflect a broad range of contemporary art criticism drawn from the history of art, culture, and literature. By analyzing how Jewish experiences have depicted and shaped art, the collection begins to answer how art, in its turn, depicts and shapes Jewish experience. An introduction by the volume editors unifies the essays and gives a historical overview.
"A provocative interpretation of the political and cultural history of the early cold war years. . . . By insisting that art, even art of the avant-garde, is part of the general culture, not autonomous or above it, he forces us to think differently not only about art and art history but about society itself."—New York Times Book Review
Robin Veder’s The Living Line is a radical reconceptualization of the development of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American modernism. The author illuminates connections among the histories of modern art, body cultures, and physiological aesthetics in early-twentieth-century American culture, fundamentally altering our perceptions about art and the physical, and the degree of cross-pollination in the arts. The Living Line shows that American producers and consumers of modernist visual art repeatedly characterized their aesthetic experience in terms of kinesthesia, the sense of bodily movement. They explored abstraction with kinesthetic sensibilities and used abstraction to achieve kinesthetic goals. In fact, the formalist approach to art was galvanized by theories of bodily response derived from experimental physiological psychology and facilitated by contemporary body cultures such as modern dance, rhythmic gymnastics, physical education, and physical therapy. Situating these complementary ideas and exercises in relation to enduring fears of neurasthenia, Veder contends that aesthetic modernism shared industrial modernity’s objective of efficiently managing neuromuscular energy. In a series of finely grained and interconnected case studies, Veder demonstrates that diverse modernists associated with the Armory Show, the Société Anonyme, the Stieglitz circle (especially O’Keeffe), and the Barnes Foundation participated in these discourses and practices and that “kin-aesthetic modernism” greatly influenced the formation of modern art in America and beyond. This daring and completely original work will appeal to a broad audience of art historians, historians of the body, and American culture in general.
That modern art is different from earlier art is so obvious as to be hardly worth mentioning. Yet there is little agreement as to the meaning or the importance of this difference. Indeed, contemporary aestheticians, especially, seem to feel that modern art does not depart in any essential way from the art of the past. One reason for this view is that, with the exception of Marxism, the leading philosophical schools today are ahistorical in orientation. This is as true of phenomenology and existentialism as it is of contepmorary analytic philosophy. As a result there have been few attempts by philosophers to understand the meaning of the history of art--an understanding fundamental to any grasp of the difference between modern art and its predecessors.
Art expresses an ideal image of man, and an essential part of understanding the meaning of a work of art is understanding this image. When the ideal image changes, art, too, must change. It is thus possible to look at the emergence of modern art as a function of the disintegration of the Platonic-Christian conception of man. The artist no longer has an obvious, generally accepted route to follow. One sign of this is that there is no one style today comparable to Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, or Baroque. This lack of direction has given the artist a new freedom. Today there is a great variety of answers to the question, "What is art?" Such variety, however, betrays an uncertainty about the meaning of art. An uneasiness about the meaning of art has led modern artists to enter into dialogue with art historians, psychologists and philosophers. Perhaps this interpretation can contribute to that dialogue.--Excerpted from the author's preface
The picture plane of a painting creates boundaries and perspectives. It governs the relationship of daubs of pigment on a canvas to reality, allowing the viewer to connect with the imagined world of a work of art. Charles Harrison's latest endeavor, Painting the Difference, explores the role of the picture plane in modern painting and the relationships it creates among the artist, the subject, and the spectator. One of the most respected teachers and theorists of modern art, Harrison here offers a bold interpretation of the Modernist canon that uncovers the significance of gender to the functioning of the picture plane.
Arguing that the representation of women in art was crucial to the character of modernity, Harrison traces the history of female subjects as they began to gaze out of the picture to confront and engage their viewers. Combining sweeping conceptual history with telling investigations into the details of particular paintings, Painting the Difference deciphers the implications of sexual difference for the development of nineteenth- and twentieth-century art. Harrison shows how artists, reflecting the underlying anxieties of the time about gender, used female subjects' gazes both to create a sexualized relationship between these subjects and their viewers, and to simultaneously question that relationship. In considering works by artists such as Renoir, Manet, Degas, Cézanne, Picasso, and Matisse, as well as Rothko, Warhol, Cindy Sherman, and many more, Harrison incorporates elements of cultural criticism and social history into his arguments, and generous color illustrations permit the reader to test Harrison's claims against the works on which they are based. Rich with detail and compelling analysis, Painting the Difference offers cutting-edge interpretation grounded in the reality of magnificent works of art.
In the fateful year of 1913, events in New York and Paris launched a great public rivalry between the two most consequential artists of the twentieth century, Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp. The New York Armory Show art exhibition unveiled Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, a “sensation of sensations” that prompted Americans to declare Duchamp the leader of cubism, the voice of modern art. In Paris, however, the cubist revolution was reaching its peak around Picasso. In retrospect, these events form a crossroads in art history, a moment when two young bohemians adopted entirely opposite views of the artist, giving birth to the two opposing agendas that would shape all of modern art. Today, the museum-going public views Pablo Picasso as the greatest figure in modern art. Over his long lifetime, Picasso pioneered several new styles as the last great painter in the Western tradition. In the rarefied world of artists, critics, and collectors, however, the most influential artist of the last century was not Picasso, but Marcel Duchamp: chess player, prankster, and a forefather of idea-driven dada, surrealism, and pop art. Picasso and the Chess Player is the story of how Picasso and Duchamp came to define the epochal debate between modern and conceptual art—a drama that features a who’s who of twentieth-century art and culture, including Henri Matisse, Gertrude Stein, André Breton, Salvador Dalí, and Andy Warhol. In telling the story, Larry Witham weaves two great art biographies into one tumultuous century.
In A Social History of Modern Art, a sweeping multivolume social history of Western art from the French Revolution to World War I, Albert Boime moves beyond the concern with style and form that has traditionally characterized the study of art history and, in the tradition of Arnold Hauser, examines art in a broad historical context. Into his wide-ranging cultural inquiry Boime incorporates not only frequently studied mainstream artists and sculptors but also neglected and lesser known artists and unattributed popular imagery. He examines popular as well as official culture, the family as well as the state, and the conditions of the poor as well as of the affluent that affected cultural practice.
This inaugural volume explores the artistic repercussions of the major political and economic events of the latter half of the eighteenth century: the Seven Years' War, the French Revolution, and the English industrial revolution. Boime examines the prerevolutionary popularity of the rococo style and the emergence of the cult of antiquity that followed the Seven Years' War. He shows how the continual experiments of Jacques-Louis David and others with neoclassical symbols and themes in the latter part of the century actively contributed to the transformation of French and English politics. Boime's analyses reveal the complex relationship of art with a wide range of contemporary attitudes and conditions—technological innovation, social and political tensions, commercial expansion, and the growth of capitalism.
"Provocative and endlessly revealing."—Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Herald Examiner
In this second volume, Albert Boime continues his work on the social history of Western art in the Modern epoch. This volume offers a major critique and revisionist interpretation of Western European culture, history, and society from Napoleon's seizure of power to 1815. Boime argues that Napoleon manipulated the production of images, as well as information generally, in order to maintain his political hegemony. He examines the works of French painters such as Jacques-Louis David and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, to illustrate how the art of the time helped to further the emperor's propagandistic goals. He also explores the work of contemporaneous English genre painters, Spain's Francisco de Goya, the German Romantics Philipp Otto Runge and Caspar David Friedrich, and the emergence of a national Italian art.
Heavily illustrated, this volume is an invaluable social history of modern art during the Napoleonic era.
Stimulating and informative, this volume will become a valuable resource for faculty and undergraduates.—R. W. Liscombe, Choice
While critics have long disparaged commercial television as a vast wasteland, TV has surprising links to the urbane world of modern art that stretch back to the 1950s and ’60s During that era, the rapid rise of commercial television coincided with dynamic new movements in the visual arts—a potent combination that precipitated a major shift in the way Americans experienced the world visually. TV by Design uncovers this captivating story of how modernism and network television converged and intertwined in their mutual ascent during the decades of the cold war.
Whereas most histories of television focus on the way older forms of entertainment were recycled for the new medium, Lynn Spigel shows how TV was instrumental in introducing the public to the latest trends in art and design. Abstract expressionism, pop art, art cinema, modern architecture, and cutting-edge graphic design were all mined for staging techniques, scenic designs, and an ever-growing number of commercials. As a result, TV helped fuel the public craze for trendy modern products, such as tailfin cars and boomerang coffee tables, that was vital to the burgeoning postwar economy. And along with influencing the look of television, many artists—including Eero Saarinen, Ben Shahn, Saul Bass, William Golden, and Richard Avedon—also participated in its creation as the networks put them to work designing everything from their corporate headquarters to their company cufflinks.
Dizzy Gillespie, Ernie Kovacs, Duke Ellington, and Andy Warhol all stop by in this imaginative and winning account of the ways in which art, television, and commerce merged in the first decades of the TV age.
Early in this century, Futurist and Dada artists developed brilliantly innovative uses of typography that blurred the boundaries between visual art and literature. In The Visible Word, Johanna Drucker shows how later art criticism has distorted our understanding of such works. She argues that Futurist, Dadaist, and Cubist artists emphasized materiality as the heart of their experimental approach to both visual and poetic forms of representation; by mid-century, however, the tenets of New Criticism and High Modernism had polarized the visual and the literary.
Drucker suggests a methodology closer to the actual practices of the early avant-garde artists, based on a rereading of their critical and theoretical writings. After reviewing theories of signification, the production of meaning, and materiality, she analyzes the work of four poets active in the typographic experimentation of the 1910s and 1920s: Ilia Zdanevich, Filippo Marinetti, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Tristan Tzara.
Few studies of avant-garde art and literature in the early twentieth century have acknowledged the degree to which typographic activity furthered debates about the very nature and function of the avant-garde. The Visible Word enriches our understanding of the processes of change in artistic production and reception in the twentieth century.