19th Century American Modernism

1754 Words 8 Pages
This essay will explore why there was an emergence of modernity within French and British art and visual culture in the nineteenth century and how different artists responded to this. Under close analysis will be specific visual examples in distinct turn from two French artists, Gustave Courbet, Constantin Guys and two British artists, John Everett Millais and William Morris It is also necessary to debate about the extent to which these works of art were characteristic of political and economic conditions as well as highlighting the similarities and differences between the arts of each country in terms of their national context.
The nineteenth century
…show more content…
The French revolution period did, however, foster the emergence of Realism... An apprehension that the modern condition demanded new forms of representation had begun to emerge earlier in the nineteenth century with Romanticism.’ (Wood, P. 2012.p. 24). Advocates and practitioners of modernism such as art historian Stendhal emphasised a need for change to traditional academic representations of life, ‘the Romantic, in all the arts, is the man who represents people as they are today, and not as they were in those heroic times so distant from us, and which probably never existed’. (Stendhal. 1783-1842. p. 24). Here Stendhal promotes a move away from Romanticism and argues how the function of modern art should be to advance the practices and ideas of art, as well as to defy what was previously deemed adequate artistic form with a view to truthfully communicate the artist’s experience of modern life. On a par with Stendhal, Baudelaire justified the idea that ‘it was up to painting to fix this unrecognised modern beauty’. (Baudelaire. P. 24), which Gustave Courbet most markedly showed in his art. Art which …show more content…
He strove to rejuvenate medieval forms as seen in his design, ‘Wandle’ (Plate2.30. 1897. p.83). Morris emphasised a need for this ‘lesser known art’ to be rekindled and recognised in a society where ‘the division of labour had made architecture, painting and sculpture arts ‘of the intellect’ and concomitantly the handicraft worker had been reduced to a mere labourer’. (Edwards, S. 2012. p. 81). Here Morris reflects upon the hierarchy divide within the visual arts in nineteenth-century Britain and his choice of subject matter as argued by Arscott, was ‘an analogy for a ‘properly functioning human community’, where the elements of geometry and naturalism ‘correspond to the practical political aims of equality and variety’. (Edwards, S. 2012. p. 81). In a discussion, Morris discusses an apparent ‘debasement of work, and particularly decorative or ornamental art, under capitalism’. (Morris, W. 1984. p. 263).where the decline in quality from mass produced textiles has resulted in this craft being ‘killed by commercialism’ (Morris, W. 1984. p. 265).and ‘the attractiveness of labour’ (reader ref) has been lost. Morris’ determination for reform incorporated an aesthetic energy into his work, as seen in ‘Wandle’. His use of natural techniques and natural resources

Related Documents