Thursday, October 21, 2010

Art History Thursday - The Avant-Garde

Matisse, The Woman with the Hat, 1905

One of the reasons I signed up to become a docent at the Orange County Museum of Art was because the training sounded so interested. It's 6 months of half art appreciation/teaching and half art history. So far it's been amazing and I'm really excited about it. What is it about being a mere 6 years older and not having any tests or homework to worry about that makes this art history class soooo much more interesting than all of the art history classes I took in college?

So now I am officially naming Thursday's "Art History Thursday" on my blog for the duration of the class, where I will share a little bit of what I learned, or relearned, with you.

During today's lecture, here are some of the points I found most interesting:

1. Duchamp. I was familiar with him calling found objects "art" (i.e. the urinal) and the uproar it caused in the art world, but today I learned more of the reasons behind why he did this. In the early 20th century, being avant-garde meant to reinvent and push forward and Duchamp wanted to be a part of this movement as it pertained to art, but felt after Cubism with masters like Picasso and Braque, there wasn't much further he could push paint and a canvas. So he took found or readymade objects and recontextualized them and forced everyone to ask the question, "what is art?".

Duchamp, Fountain, 1917

2. Arp. Also pushing art forward and rejecting traditional art as much as possible, Arp created a series of works called "Collage arranged according to the laws of chance". He created these pieces by tearing paper into pieces, dropping them onto a larger sheet of paper, and pasting each scrap wherever it fell. This was Arp's way of not only forcing viewers at the time to look at art in a new way, but to also force himself out of any habits, traditions, or repetitions that he may have formed in his own work. It forced him to step outside of his own box even further.

Arp, Collage arranged according to the laws of chance, 1916-17

Even though I shouldn't be, I'm a little surprised by how much this art history class has inspired my design process; not only by the works themselves, but also the feeling and intention behind each piece. I'm loving every minute of it!

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