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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old May 28th, 2005, 15:55 Thread Starter
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Art in Context 14 : Modernism?

I need your help in explicating Modernism and its positive / negative influence on art, architecture, design, literature ...



Modernism, definition of

The term Modernism usually refers to the early part of the twentieth century — sometimes beginning with the First World War in 1914, and continuing through the 1930s or so — perhaps up to the Second World War. Some of the most influential Modernist writers tried some radical experiments with form: poets like Pound and Eliot working in free verse, for instance, and novelists like Joyce, Woolf, and Stein experimenting with stream of consciousness and elaborate language games.
- Dept. of Contemporary Literature, Rutgers University


The modernist designs manufactured in the U.S. and marketed to middle-class homes during the 1930s raise compelling questions about the nature of modernism and its relationship to mainstream audiences.
Livable modernism is defined not only by its adherence to the belief that a simplified aesthetic could facilitate an enlightened lifestyle, but also by its respect for the physical and psychological comfort of the user. It is defined by its willingness to make use of the language of the marketplace to reach potential users. - Modernism Magazine


Modernism in the cultural historical sense is generally defined as the new artistic and literary styles that emerged in the decades before 1914 as artists rebelled against the late 19th century norms of depiction and literary form, in an attempt to present what they regarded as a more emotionally true picture of how people really feel and think. - Wikipedia


Le Corbusier's "Villa Savoye", 1929-30: The modern style is noted for its rigorous geometrical forms, and became adopted internationally, though not without continuing controversy

Just as the ancients drew the inspiration for their arts from the world of nature...so we should draw ours from the mechanized environment we have created.

- Antonio Sant'Elia, Manifesto of Futurist Architecture (1914)




1. What are some of the favourable aspects of modernism?

2. Is modernism becoming an oppressive force in contemporary life?


Feel free to list images; again, bear in mind that this is an entirely subjective topic.

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old May 28th, 2005, 19:37
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I guess my answer goes more for something for the second question;
When talking about architecture in Brasil, one name shadows all others: Oscar Niemeyer. The mind behind Brasilia is responsable for several buildings in the world and in my city (where he kind of "trained" for Brasilia) he did several buildings and planned one entire region (Pampulha) in the 50's. They represent a lot in symbolism of the city because that period was also the period that Belo Horizonte (my city) jumped to be able to legally drink
However, now 2005 the new governor wants another impulse. And what he does ? Instead of opening the space for a new force like what happened with Niemayer in the 50's he just hired the now old although witty (enough to say "But I like to be called communist" just another day when our Governamen had acess of pure stalinism and edited a book to teach people how to speak properlly that included words and expressions that should not be used anymore for several "good" and "educated" reasons. Communist among those. Niemayer's reaction and the same aproach of the thinking heads here made the Governament give up) Niemeyer.
Niemeyer is however a monster, you can see his official page here : http://www.niemeyer.org.br/0scarNiemeyer/home.html
Click in obras and you will see many , many of his works. It is in portuguese, however.
http://vereda.saber.ula.ve/historia_...ode/brasil.htm
This other link is in spanish, but the pics are most in black/white.
Here 3 images, the black white one is the church here in my city. Gladly they are recovering it, as soon they finish i will try to post a better picture. The painting are from Portinari.
The other is the Cathedral in Brasilia. For an atheist, Niemeyer had really a inspired eye for sacred places
and the other is the memorial against the Torture.
I really Can not think anything bad about modernism for its existense, except the old that happened in every revolution: long life to the new, death to the old...but pretend that what is old and we like is just new as a baby.
Literature and modernism deserve however another post, but now this one is long enough
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old May 31st, 2005, 17:02 Thread Starter
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While there have been numerous examples and news articles praising Modernist architecture during the past 80 years, allow me to dampen the spirit and explore the negative influence it has on modern life.

For instance, the expansion of the Whitney Museum in New York City.

1. Why must the museum's expansion require the destruction of neighbouring buildings?

2. Why must the expansion of the art museum include retail spaces?




source: The New York Times (nytimes.com)
Published: May 25, 2005

Revised Whitney Plan Wins Panel's Approval

By ROBIN POGREBIN

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted yesterday to approve a modified expansion plan for the Whitney Museum of American Art that would prevent the razing of one Madison Avenue brownstone.


The Whitney proposed shrinking its planned 32-foot-wide entrance, left, to 16 feet, right, to save a brownstone facade and gain approval.

The vote, which was unanimous, was a mixed victory of sorts for the architect, Renzo Piano. After heated arguments from preservationists in previous hearings, he submitted an alternative plan halving the size of a proposed new entrance for the museum so he could spare the brownstone and win the commission's approval.

In a telephone interview from his Genoa office yesterday, Mr. Piano said he was not disappointed by the outcome. "I don't think this is a compromise," he said, although he added, "It is a limitation."

Leonard A. Lauder, the Whitney's chairman, described the commission's vote as "a real victory for the city." Over the last two decades, two previous designs for a Whitney expansion were commissioned and abandoned.

Now that the museum entrance will be half the width of Mr. Piano's original plan - 16 feet wide instead of 32 feet - only one brownstone rather than two will be demolished: the one closer to the Whitney's 1966 Marcel Breuer building on Madison at 75th Street.



Some neighborhood residents expressed surprise yesterday that the Whitney had not put up more of a fight for its original design. "They seemed to have the votes to go with plan A, but I guess they didn't want any dissent," said Edward Klimerman, the president of the co-op board at 14 East 75th Street.

But the brownstone that was ostensibly spared will not survive intact: its depth will be reduced from 31 feet to 17 feet to allow more room for the entranceway behind it. Mr. Piano has also doubled the height of a public piazza to which the new entrance will lead.

A nine-story tower will rise behind a row of six brownstones owned by the Whitney on that block of Madison Avenue between 74th and 75th Streets, connecting to the original building with a series of glass bridges.

The brownstone that was saved, at 942 Madison Avenue, is designated as a "contributing" building - one with artistic, historic or cultural value - in a historic district.

The director of the Whitney, Adam D. Weinberg, said yesterday that the museum had felt it had no choice but to present an alternative. "We were just getting very, very strong messages that there were a lot of commissioners who were highly resistant to taking down a contributing" brownstone, he said.

While he said he was satisfied with the new design aesthetically, "I am concerned about the functional and programmatic structure of that entrance," Mr. Weinberg continued, adding, "I don't know how it's going to work."

Mr. Piano said he now had his work cut out for him. "I will put more energy into creating a sense of discovery as soon as you cross the threshold," he said. "In some ways it will be even more surprising, what you see after the compression - to have a kind of expansion."

Several commission members expressed a preference for the original design yesterday. But all agreed that the new plan was worthy of approval, whatever the size of the entrance. Indeed, the consistently effusive praise for the project from the commissioners yesterday was in striking contrast to their remarks at two often-contentious hearings earlier this year.

"I couldn't be more pleased with where we have come out," said Roberta Brandes Gratz, a commission member.

Another commission member, Richard M. Olcott, said the design "honors and preserves the past and is sensitive to its context." At the same time, he said, it is "very inventive and very forward-looking."

The commission also commended other recent adjustments to the design: the enclosing of a fire escape in a brownstone at 74th Street and Madison Avenue, and a deeper setback for a rooftop addition to the Breuer building so that it will not be visible from Madison.

Although the original Breuer entrance will be intended mostly for school groups, Mr. Weinberg said members of the general public could enter there if they chose.

While some neighborhood residents were relieved that a brownstone facade was saved, they still object to the 176-foot height of the tower. A banner brought to the hearing by some neighborhood residents said: "Save our historic neighborhood. Stop the monster on Madison!"

Yet the artist Chuck Close, who sits on the Whitney board and attended yesterday's hearing, said he was "disappointed that we couldn't build the best building that we could have built."

He said he found it "outrageous" that 2 Columbus Circle, a building from 1965 designed by Edward Durell Stone, will be reconstructed without even a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing, "while we're not allowed to take down one crummy brownstone."


Quote:
Yet the artist Chuck Close, who sits on the Whitney board and attended yesterday's hearing, said he was "disappointed that we couldn't build the best building that we could have built."
:thmbdown: Not really true.

One of the proposed plans which was rejected by the Whitney was by the Award winning architect Rem Koolhaas and did not require the destruction of any neighbouring buildings but also contained much radical and whimsical designs.

Like the song goes, "they paved paradise, and put up a parking lot," no?

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old June 1st, 2005, 16:44
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As I promised I will talk more and bore you people more with the modernism in Brazil
If you remember that Brazil is young, you can easily see that the Modernism represents much like brazilian adulthood. During the XIX Century we have basically played with our teen years. But all that Brazil is today started in the early decades of XX century and the movement of the modernists is the organized power to express this.
During this period Brazilian process of urbanization started and some Brazilians returned from Europe with great influences – from the artistic and political point of view. All this had a pinpoint – in 1922 happened the Week of Modern Art. So important that even enters in the timelines in history books before President’s deaths, revolutions, etc.
What happened is basic: Brazil had a great generation of artists: In Music we had Heitor Villa-Lobos; in painting Di Cavalcanti, Anita Malfatti or Tarsila do Amaral and the helping hand of Lithuanian Lasar Segall. Literature then…Mario de Andrade, Oswald de Andrade, Manuel Bandeira, Menotti del Piccha...
Mario and Oswald are the unelected leaders: Mario the calm, high intellectual and shy writer, Oswald the sensualist, active and of course, communist. They eventually ended moving separate paths and not always in the best terms, naturally.
The basic idea was to give value, personality to Brazil. The XIX Century’s social Darwinism was harsh to us; many anthropologists of that time often analyzed us from the perspective of a barbaric people, condemned to failure because we had the blood mixing of Africans, Native Americans and Portuguese (the not so pure breed Europeans). Truly the Brazilian Romantism already worked with the idea that we are great because the mix, but it was long gone. And they lacked the back-up of sociology. This happened with the writer Gilberto Freyre, who proposed the idea that otherwise: the mix up of races added the diversity, therefore the capacity of creation and success of brazilian when he analyzed the story of slavery and the relations between the Africans and Portuguese here.
Oswald comes up with the “Manifest of Pau-Brasil” (Which lead to a book of satiric poems of great quality) and Mario with the Movement Anthropophagic – meaning: we shall look inside; devour our own diversity and produce. The result was a great mix of newborn urbanism and popular art; Villa-Lobos mixed native American music with classical for example. Mario is also responsible for the initiative of art-education here.
The movement was powerful enough to generate another “generations of modernists” - most of them however are just the modernists out of Rio and Sao Paulo that joined the party. Humberto Mauro and his cinema, Graciliano Ramos, Rachel de Queiroz, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Vinicius de Morais, Niemeyer, Portinari, Cecília Meirelles, José Lins do Rego, Câmara Cascudo, Guimarăes Rosa, Nelson Rodrigues, etc. Somehow, our Enlightment.
Of course, a movement that is so voracious often took to the extreme the notion of leaving the old behind and giving value to the new. The political ties also, many ties with the communist movement and Oswald and the other women are behind the creation of the feminist movement here. Racism was attacked. But the nationalism also gave space to the fascism and in 1930 Getulio Vargas started his 15 years domain. Vargas was no fool; he needed the progress and often hired the artists to do all short social works tied to art. Not all of them are lured by this and some of them suffered political persecution and censorship. The natural marriage between Modern Art and Modernity also is responsible for the implantation of the idea of Modernity here – with all that is good and bad about it.
I must say however, the most successful project of modernists here was football. The image an idea we have about it started all with the modernists who noticed the popular attraction and the expression of that so called individual creativity with the race combination that lead to success.
And to make this even more long:
Tarsila’s Abaporu. This is perhaps the most famous single painting in Brazil. Next it is Anita’s A Estudante(The Student) and then Di Cavalcanti illustration for one of the posters of the Week of 1922.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old June 6th, 2005, 15:24 Thread Starter
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Many thanks, J I find your post more than informative, it expands the horizon for all of us about Brasil and her development in the last cnetury. Indeed, Modernism takes on a different if not heroic influence on the country's culture and history. [And, in the same vein, Brasil itself has influenced and changed Modernism forever!]

But, in good and sad manners, what your country has is more than any art movement can counter. We need not say it out loud. But Europe IS very jealous that a ball, eleven people and magicrealism outshine the brilliance of "Aguirre the Wrath of God."

Now, back to another issue of this topic. I am fascinated by the purpose of Modernism [at the beginning of the last century, in the west] and, at the same time, pondering the negative effects it is now having in our cities, lifestyels [clothing and home designs for example] as well as, art.

For instance, what used to be a radical movement [in western Europe and Russia in particular] is now an excuse to embrace a common market [aka globalisation] which may [or may not] exploit underage laborours ...

There are much more examples for and against Moderism. Let's talk about them a little at a time. In the interim, a very good Monday morning to you all

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old June 7th, 2005, 20:59 Thread Starter
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Modernism : the Minimalist Artist

Minimalism is an offshot of Modernist art that was in vogue from the 1950s through the mid 1970s. Dan Flavin (American, 1933-1996) was a Minimalist who used flourescent tubes in his work; here are three Flavin installations:









As expressed in Flavin's artist statements and the relative lifespan of flourescent tubes, the entire body of his work was meant to be transient; thus coinciding with one of the aspects of Modernism that progress takes precedence over sentimentalism.

Most museums and galleries that hosted Flavin's work respected his point of view--to a certain extent. But they also sabotaged the essence of Flavin's art in favour of protecting the institutions' holdings by replacing a new flourescent light everytime a tube burns out.


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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old June 13th, 2005, 21:20
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Quote:
But, in good and sad manners, what your country has is more than any art movement can counter. We need not say it out loud. But Europe IS very jealous that a ball, eleven people and magicrealism outshine the brilliance of "Aguirre the Wrath of God."
I do not think there is a better way to illustrate your words than with this painting; Portinari's Futebol (for more words , I can not but invite you this thread in the brazilian forum https://www.xtratime.org/forums/showthread.php?t=150183 ) :
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old July 6th, 2005, 16:41
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Yesterday Niemayer's church in Pampulha was re-opened.The process of restauration preserved Portinari's Paintings and Roberto Burle Marx's gardens.
This church is a land mark in the history of brazilian moderm architeture.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old July 31st, 2005, 22:58
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Thankyou for having these discussions. They are very engrossing, even though I do not understand most of it or contribute anything of significant relevance, it is good to learn.
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