Although thought of
as distinctly American, Pop Art actually began in London during the
mid-1950s. Nevertheless, the central figures among the Pop artists are all
Americans, and the movement reached its zenith in New York during the
1960s. Marcel Duchamp was still active at this time and exerted strong influence
on the new generation. Pop derives much from Dada, born from a similar
period of frustration.
The term Pop Art was first used by English critic
Lawrence Alloway in a 1958 issue of Architectural Digest to describe works
celebrating mass production, advertising
The leading Pop pioneers include Robert
Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Roy
Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and, of course, Andy Warhol. Warhol
(1930-87), perhaps the greatest Pop artist, specialized inthe boring and
everyday. He burst upon the public consciousness with meticulously painted
Campbell's soup cans and three-dimensional Brillo boxes. His innovations
have greatly affected art in the 90s.
As a major movement in art
history, Impressionism followed the Realist movement and the invention of
photography. The movement developed primarily in France during the mid 1860s and
throughout the 1870s.
Although it lasted only
about fifteen years in its purist form, it determined in one way or
another nearly every artistic manifestation that has taken place since. Impressionist
artists became fascinated with the transformation light brought upon
natural objects and surfaces. Color is no longer seen as the property of
the object itself but of the moment of perception of light, and
thus changes with the time of day and density of the atmosphere.
The Impressionists were the first to render the full intensity of natural light
and the glow of natural colors.
To quote Paul Signac, a painter of the
nineteenth century who helped transform the Impressionist
style in the 1880s, "The entire surface of the [Impressionist]
painting glows with sunlight; the air circulates, light embraces, caresses
and irradiates forms - it penetrates everywhere, even into the shadows it
The principle Impressionist painters were Claude Monet,
Pierre Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley and Berthe Morisot.
Edgar Degas and Paul Cézanne also painted in an Impressionist style for a
time in the early 1870s.
cultural standard and every form of artistic activity, the roots of Dada
can be traced to the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 1916. Dada, a name
which was intended as nonsense, soon became international. The movement
sought the discovery of authentic reality through the abolition
of traditional culture and aesthetic forms. A group was quickly organized
in New York by Marcel Duchamp, centering around Gallery 291, which
had been founded by photographers Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen.
The ferocity of the Dada offensive unleashed a tremendous amount of
creative activity. The leading spirit of Dada was Marcel Duchamp
(1887-1968). His greatest work, "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors," executed between 1915 and 1923, is a nine foot long construction of
superimposed plate glass layers. This creation has exercised enormous
influence on later art, up to the present time.
America's greatest contribution to the history of modern art is Abstract
Expressionism, which dominated the New York scene for a decade and a half
subsequent to World War II. Though less cohesive as an art movement, its
common thread centered around an opposition to the strict formalism
characteristic of much of abstract art at the time. The movement, which
owed its existence to a new evaluation of the individual,spread quickly
following the defeat of totalitarianism in the Second World War. The
founders of Abstract Expressionism include Arshile Gorky, Hans Hofmann, Jackson
Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Mark Rothko.
developed in Italy during the first decade of the Twentieth Century. The movement emphasized the
energy and speed of the machine and was strongly opposed to existing
notions of Italy as vast museum of timespast. As early as 1909 Futurists
launched a program advocating the destruction of academies and monumental
cities as impediments to progress. The rhetoric was intended to inspire
public anger and to arose controversy. The members of the Futurist group
included Carlo Carrà and Umberto Boccioni. One of the last Futurist
artists was Joseph Stella, whose Brooklyn Bridge series pays homage to a
structure that had become a symbol of industrial achievement.
As the nihilism
of Dada gradually lost favor, Surrealism took the next step -- that of
exploring the workings of the subconscious mind with free association of imagery
and juxtaposition of subject matter. French author André Breton
published "The Surrealist Manifesto" in 1924. Initially a literary
movement, artists were quick to see the possibilities afforded
the emphasis on subconscious association. The first Surrealist exhibition
took place in 1925 at the Galerie Pierre in Paris. The painters most closely
associated with Surrealism were Max Ernst, Joan Miró, René Magritte,
and Salvador Dali.
Art Deco refers
generally to the decorative arts of the 1920s and 1930s in Europe and
America. The style derived its name from the Paris Exposition des Arts
Décoratifs in 1928. With an emphasis centered around individuality and
ornate workmanship, the movement rebelled against the contemporary doctrines of
the Bauhaus and the prototypes for machine production which were the
ideals behind the Deutscher Werkbund. Art Deco, known for its streamlined
style, was hailed as the ultimate in modernity during the 1930s. It drew
inspiration from eclectic sources including Art Nouveau, Cubism, and
fashion design. The style reached its greatest heights (literally) in New
York's Chrysler Building (1928-1930) and in the drawings of Erté, who has
since become known as the "father of Art Deco."