Disrecognized Space

agressi sunt mare tenebrarum, quid in eo esset exploraturi

Modern Art: a multiplicity of traditions

Art in the century spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was marked by a rejection of tradition, yet art has always progressed by rejecting. In this essay I argue that the distinguishing feature of this particular period is not the rejection per se, but the multiple ways this occurred and the rapidity of these changes. In an age of turmoil, war and societal upheaval, artists reflected this in their works, developing new movements at an astonishing rate, while still building on the traditions that led to this period. I will discuss this in particular in relation to two artists: Paul Delvaux and Franz Marc. The way these artists approached their art shows a concern for psychic truth, and a grappling with tradition and new forms in order to express those concerns.Art has altered throughout history by a rejection of tradition. Ancient Eqyptian art, for all its long history of unchanging forms of representation, altered dramatically under the reign of Akhenaton (Kleiner 2009, p. 73). Further examples could be picked at random throughout the history of art where a way of showing the world was transformed or rejected, to be replaced by a new way of showing it. Ultimately, of course, a successful movement that rejects the previous tradition becomes the new orthodoxy. What then, if anything, distinguishes the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? The singular difference is the rate at which traditions were rejected and replaced. Instead of periods of hundreds or thousands of years, changes in art occurred much more frequently (indeed, so frequently that individual artists during this period encompassed multiple styles).

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The Adoration of the Magi in Renaissance Art

The renaissance demonstrates a rebirth, particularly in the visual arts, first coming to fruition in fifteenth century Florence. The nature of this rebirth is shown by considering the different ways artists depicted the Adoration of the Magi. Four artists – Giotto, Gozzoli, Leonardo and Raphael – are considered in order to demonstrate the new way of painting.New movements in art are frequently created out of societal ferment. Often this ferment is the result of warfare (Kleiner 2009, passim), but sometimes it can also result as a congruence of various other forces (economic and cultural). Bronowski (1973, p. 177) puts the origin of the Renaissance in Spain at the school of translators there in the twelfth century, where the ‘lost’ works of the Greeks and Romans (lost to the West) were translated by Arab scholars at the frontier of the Moslem Empire with the West.

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Form and Reality: the Classical Greek Balance of the Ideal and the Natural

Ancient Greek sculpture of the Classical period depicts beauty through the balance of naturalism and idealism.Ancient Greek sculpture represents a development from idealism to naturalism. In the Classical period this conflict reached an apotheosis when the two forces were balanced against each other. An example of this is the bust of Pericles by Kresilas.

During this period of ancient Greece’s existence (some 900 years) it was only natural that sculpture should develop in different ways. From Geometric Art, through the Archaic Period (when the formulaic kouroi became predominant) and on to the Classical Period (defined by Kleiner (2009, p.118) as 480—323 BCE) there is a broad development from the ideal but unreal, through to the naturalistic representation of the human figure.

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