Lecture: Art Movement (Listen and Read)

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Lecture: Art Movement
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Good afternoon everyone.
As you know, this set of lectures will look at the different movements in twentieth-century art history.
But before I start looking at some of these movements in detail,
I thought it would be helpful for you to understand exactly what we mean by the term "movement".
Basically, an art movement is a collective title that we give to artworks
that share the same artistic ideas, styles, or technical approaches.
Each movement occupies a specific point in history.
These time periods can span, months, years, or decades,
but normally, the movement's heyday can be pinpointed to a period of a few years.
The practice of grouping artists into movements is only seen in Western Art,
and in fact, all movements came from the twentieth century,
during the time period we call 'modern art',
which spans, more or less, from the beginning to the middle of the twentieth century.
After that, we refer to art as postmodern,
and from then on, the era of movements came to an end,
as if it was just a passing fad.
The term movement is actually pretty vague.
In some cases, the artists of one movement adhere strictly to a set of guiding principles,
but in other cases, the artists have very little in common.
Although it's sometimes based on artistic style and technique, like Art Deco,
it isn't always.
Sometimes, it is based on a particular concept or ethical belief.
Let's look at some examples of what I mean.
Let's look at Cubism, for example.
This is very much a visual approach.
Cubists wanted to discard past conventions in which art mimicked nature,
and highlight the fact that a painting is not nature,
it's just a flat two-dimensional representation of it.
To highlight this idea, Cubists painted quite common objects -
musical instruments, bottles, humans -
but depicted them from several vantage points at once;
something quite impossible in reality.
Other movements were not connected by their styles or techniques.
Instead, it was their beliefs that brought them together.
Dadaism is an example.
Dadaists believed that rational thought was responsible for the growth of corrupt,
nationalist politics, and the spread of violence and war.
They saw themselves as crusaders against this.
They used their art, for example, to protest against the nascist Nazi party in Germany.
The scale of movements varied considerably.
Some were international, while some were very small-scale,
centered around a particular city, and included a specific group of people.
Vorticism was an example of this type of small-scale, close-knit group.
The Vorticists were from London,
and the group was centered around London's Rebel Arts Center
and published its work in the London-based magazine Blast.
Its manifesto had just eleven signatories,
and there were a handful of others who contributed to the movement.
On the other hand, some movements existed on a large scale.
Dadaism, for example, comprised of a loosely-knit international network of artists
living in Zurich, New York City, Berlin, and Paris.
That's another important thing about these different art movements.
They don't just encompass the visual arts.
Art movements also encompass literature, poetry, architecture, and music.
The ideals are transferred from one art form to another.
Take Futurism, for example.
The idea of Futurism was that it embraced new technology - change, speed, and innovation.
Where painters expressed this by painting modes of transport and large crowds in vibrant, expressive colors,
to glorify the virtues of speed and dynamic movement,
writers expressed the futuristic ideal by ridding their poetry of unnecessary elements,
like adjectives and adverbs, and emphasizing the verbs.
Movements, as a whole, were short-lived.
To some extent, this can be attributed to fashion, but not always.
Some movements, like Futurism and Vorticism, that glorified technology
were seen to be a glorification of war,
as when these movements started up, World War I was just around the corner.
When it was finally realized how much destruction the new machines that they so highly praised was causing,
these movements died a death, and in some cases, their artists did too,
as a number of prominent Vorticists were killed in action.
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