Mexican Mural Movement

Mexico Muralists, 1920s-1940s

I’ve always found murals to be amazing – the time, planning and detail put into them make for such incredible pieces of art. The Mexican Mural Movement was a government-led movement from about 1920 to 1940 in which artists worked to paint murals all over the public in order to restore beauty in cities after the war. The main artists involved with this movement were Diego Rivera, Josè Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. The goal of this movement was to portray appealing political messages through art in hopes of reunifying Mexico.

Diego Rivera was already a popular artist by the time he began painting murals. One of his pieces that I find beautiful is The History of Mexico in National Palace, Mexico City, Mexico. Rivera finished this piece in 1931. The mural displays all of Mexico’s past, from the Conquest, oppression and inquisition to independence and revolution. The mural can be broken up into many different pieces that demonstrate specific times and what Mexico was experiencing then. There are so many feelings when looking at this mural due to the fact that there is so much information painted in it, both suffering and happiness. It’s truly a piece that one could spend long amounts of time viewing and analyzing.

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Here’s a much better picture of this extravagant mural. 

Josè Clemente Orozco was a Mexican painter who died in 1949 at the age of 76. He was a bit different from his other partners in the Mexican Mural Movement because he seemed to take a liking to human suffering in his pieces and was greatly influenced by Symbolism, while Rivera was more of the realistic type. He was also quite political and showed so in his works. His mural of Miguel Hidalgo abolishing slavery was painted in Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico in 1948. This mural was certainly meant to get some emotion out of the viewer. I felt a sense of relief when looking at it knowing that soon the bands wrapped around those hands would be cut and slaves would be freed.

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David Alfaro Siqueiros was a painter and muralist. By the end of his life, Siqueiros had painted thousands of square feet in murals; he often portrayed social and political changes in these works. Such strong political work and movements he had led often landed him in jail. However, despite his jail time, he was called to paint at the National Preparatory School in Mexico in 1922. This piece, Los Mitos, is his most famous. Los Mitos had a much different feel when looking at it compared to his others; this one had a much more pleasant vibe – more colors and positive images, which would be appropriate since it was in a school setting.

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“David Alfaro Siqueiros.” Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.
“Los Tres Grandes – The Mexican Muralist Movement.” Los Tres Grandes. Tulane University, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.

Post-Modernism in Media and Installations

Post-Modernism is an artistic movement in the late 20th century that took ideas from the past, such as Dada and surrealism, and added a new twist, while still avoiding the traditional approach to art. Post-Modernism in the media broke many geographical barriers and was able to connect with people all over the world.

Ann Hamilton

Ann Hamilton was born in Ohio on June 22, 1956. She is mainly known for her work in multi-media installations, but she also known for her work in video, sculpture and photography. Hamilton has a Masters of Fine Arts from Yale University of Art, which she received in 1985 (Ann Hamilton Studio). Her work was described as, “a dense accumulation of materials, her ephemeral environments create immersive experiences that poetically respond to the architectural presence and social history of their sites” (Ann Hamilton Studio). A few of her works include: “The Event of a Thread,” “Indigo Blue” and “Human Carriage.”

“The Event of a Thread,” 2012

“The Event of a Thread” is an installation that played in various parts of the United States from 2012 to 2013. Park Avenue Armory, a place where the installation was demonstrated, described “The Event of a Thread” by saying that it “references the building’s architecture, as well as the individual encounters and congregational gatherings that have animated its rich social history.”

“Indigo Blue,” 2007

“Indigo Blue” was a project by Hamilton that took place in Charleston, South Carolina. Ann Hamilton Studio referred to the installation as “history that is based more in the somatic experience of the body than in the statistical accounting of events and facts.”

“Human Carriage,” 2009

The Human Carriage created a suspended ramp, similar to a zipline, from the top end of the Guggenheim’s parapet; the Guggenheim museum was located in New York from January 30th-April 19th 2009.

Matthew Barney

Matthew Barney was born on March 25, 1967 in Boise, Idaho. He is an artist who thrives in sculpture, video, photography and film. He began with creating sculptural installations mixed with video and performance (Wikipedia). Barney was recruited by Yale University to play football and study pre-med, but he also had intentions of studying art.

“The Cremaster Cycle,” 1994-2002

“The Cremaster Cycle” is a series of five American films created by Matthew Barney. Jonathon Jones in The Guardian described it as “one of the most imaginative and brilliant achievements in the history of avant-garde cinema.” “The Cremaster Cycle” uses sculptures to explore the process of creation. The films look at early development of humans.

“The Drawing Restraint,” 1987-present

“The Drawing Restraint” is also a series of films by Barney that are still going on in present day. It’s similar to “The Cremaster Cycle” in the sense that it is examining human creation and development (Wikipedia).

“River of Fundament,” 2006-2014

“River of Fundament” is Barney’s most recent piece of work. It includes seven opera pieces and can be said that it is based on Normal Mailer’s Ancient Evenings. Wikipedia describes Ancient Evenings by saying, “It deals with the lives of two protagonists, one young, one old, in a very alien Ancient Egypt marked by journeys by the dead, reincarnation and violent and hyper-sexual gods and mortals in a complex combination of historical fiction.”

Works Cited
“Ancient Evenings.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.
“Ann Hamilton Studio.” Ann Hamilton Studio. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
“ANN HAMILTON: The Event of a Thread : Program & Events : Park Avenue Armory.” Park Avenue Armory. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.
“Matthew Barney.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

African American Influence and the Harlem Renaissance

From the end of World War I to the middle of the 1930’s, there was a time that can be referred to as the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance was an artistic explosion in Harlem in which African American influence flourished in visual arts and also in music, theater, poetry and photography (PBS). Harlem became a place where African American artists traveled in order to pursue their dreams. A few of these artists that left the South for Harlem are Langston Hughes, Romare Bearden and William Johnson.

The Weary Blues, 1923

Langston Hughes was a poet during the Harlem Renaissance. His poem The Weary Blues discusses his experience when listening to a Blue’s musician in Harlem. One could identify this poem as taking place in Harlem by the line “Down on Lenox Avenue,” a main road in the city. His interpretation of the music could be described as sorrowful or experiencing struggle, which would make sense because it was taking place during a time of heavy racism and discrimination. But throughout all of the hardships, Hughes makes it seem as if the Blue’s are keeping this musician alive and there is a certain inspiration behind that.

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Out Chorus, 1979

Romare Bearden, 1911-1988, was a known painter during the Harlem Renaissance. He moved from South Carolina to New York in order to chase his artistic dreams. Bearden became a “founding member of the Harlem-based art group known as The Spiral, formed to discuss the responsibility of the African-American artist in the struggle for civil rights” (Wikipedia). His piece, Out Chorus exemplifies African American influence through the portrayal of a Jazz band and bright colors.

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Booker T. Washington Legend, 1944

William H. Johnson was also an African American painter who moved from South Carolina to New York in 1918 as an aspiring artist. In New York, he was accepted into The National Academy of Design, where his painting skills thrived. Johnson was greatly inspired by the culture surrounding him and he “also scrutinized the assortment of sights, sounds, and people who populated Harlem’s African American community. Mesmerized by the stimulating life around him, he captured the gyrations of the contemporary dance craze” (Smithsonian Art Museum).

The Harlem Renaissance was an entire time where African American influence was the primary influence. It was not only an artistic movement, but also portrayed racial pride.

Works Cited

“Resources and Tours.” William H. Johnson: A Guide for Teachers / American Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.
“Romare Bearden.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Oct. 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.
“The Harlem Renaissance.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2014.
“The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes.” “The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

The Beauty of Impressionism

Impressionism was the time referred during the 19th century. Its characteristics can be defined as using “relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter [ . . ]” (Wikipedia). When viewing visual arts from this era, I found them to be very elegant and beautiful, which was probably due to the new use of delicate brush strokes in the paintings. I also enjoyed the use of color in the works. Bright colors were also a new characteristic in the impressionistic style that was not necessarily a huge part of art in other time periods; this was because of the new availability of certain colorful pigments. An example of a darker period of art could be the Gothic period. It was definitely not obvious that the paintings were indeed actually paintings because the lines and colors mixed so well together, no brush strokes were visible. It also seems as if there was a specific color scheme for the Gothic era, which included darker colors and reds.

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Claude Monet, San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk, 1908-1912

I thought this piece to be a prime example of impressionism art. The colors are bright, yet hardly mixing – a characteristic of visual art during this era. Other characteristics displayed in this painting are the utilization of small brush strokes and light. Monet often had bright paintings because he “refused to use browns or earthtone paints. He used white, yellow, vermillion, blue, and green” (Totally History).

Other examples of Monet’s work during the impressionist period:

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 Irises in the Artists Garden at Giverny          Bouquet of Sunflowers              The Iris Garden at Giverny

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Pierre Auguste Renoir, Landscape with Snow, 1875

Though Renoir did not use as vivid of colors as Monet did, his paintings still exemplified the use of visual art impressionism characteristics. Using the new, tiny brush stroke method to paint landscapes was a popular idea during this time, as demonstrated by both Monet and Renoir. This piece also plays with the use of lighting, coming from only one corner and shedding light upon the rest of the scene. It’s different from Monet’s style, but just as equally as beautiful in its own way.

A couple more examples from Renoir include:

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             Children at the Beach, 1883                        By the Water, 1880

Personally, I loved the visual arts during this time period. The delicacy of the brush strokes, along with the use of vibrant colors, created a certain joy and warmth when viewing the pieces. Paintings of landscapes are one of my favorites and it seemed as if that was a popular thing to paint during impressionism, which is another reason why I found the time so fascinating and beautiful.

“Impressionism.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Oct. 2014. Web. 25 Oct. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impressionism&gt;.

“San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk by Monet – Facts about the Painting.”Totally History San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <http://totallyhistory.com/san-giorgio-maggiore-at-dusk/&gt;.

The Rise of the Middle Class and the Arts

The Classical Era and the Rise of the Middle Class

The Classical era, during the 1700s, was a time in which the middle class gained power, resulting in a change in the arts and especially in the music. The rise in power created a different audience; composers were no longer playing to satisfy the ears of the church and the court, but instead to appeal to the people. Music shifted to become more instrumental based, also known as galant. It was meant to be a simple harmony with easily grasped melodies, while also being well balanced and pleasing. The great idea of this time period was to be clear and distinct and such was demonstrated in the music created. Great composers of this time include: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven (Mozart’s Litany of Loreto).

Mozart was a vital musician in the Classical period. It was said that “The central traits of the classical style can all be identified in Mozart’s music. Clarity, balance, and transparency are hallmarks [ . . . ]” (The Music of Mozart). A piece that shows how the rise of the middle class changed music is Piano Sonata No. 18 in D major, K 576, composed in 1776 as one piece out of six for the Princess of Austria. The piece was organized into three parts, a common idea of that time. It includes both tension and release, which was also a characteristic of music in the Classical era. It is easy to follow and understand and that was pleasing to the middle class.

Joseph Haydn’s Symphony 101 in D major is also an excellent example of music during the Classical era. Like Mozart’s piece, it is organized into movements, but instead of three, Haydn used four. It starts with adagio (slow), then andante (medium pace), allegretto (faster pace) and ends with the finale (lively and fast). The symphony is balanced throughout, repeating the main theme after every littler theme ends, which makes it easy to follow along with.

Ludwig van Beethoven was also a great composer of this time. His Symphony No. 9 in D Minor is “one of the best-known works of the repertoire of classical music” (Wikipedia). The piece follows the idea of being broken up into different sections, this one having four movements and building up to end with a lively and fast finale. It followed all of the common characteristics of music during the Classical era.

Pieces of the Classical period are organized and easy to, both, understand and follow. Music was was affordable and targeted to appeal to the middle class with its clear and simple melodies.

Sources

“Mozart Home Page.” Mozart Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.

“Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Oct. 2014. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

“Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART – the Music of Mozart.” Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART – the Music of Mozart. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.

Baroque Art Influences

Science in the Arts

The Baroque period, literally translating into “irregular,” was what the arts were referred to during the late sixteenth century to the seventeenth century. During this time, a new type of music evolved called opera. It changed from a calm type of melody to one expressed heavily by instrumental music, using many organs and violins. This new form of music included extravagant state decor and influence from the arts and literature of the Baroque era; the Baroque arts were considered elaborate, flamboyant and drew emotional responses from its viewers.

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There were many influences in which provided inspiration for the arts during this time, including: scientific knowledge, the rise of wealthy merchant classes and royalty. According to An Outline History of Western Music, Johan Sebastian Bach was a composer who practiced scientific knowledge in his works (1). The New York Times wrote an entire article about Bach’s scientific music, describing him as being, “engaged in a lifelong project to master ”musical science,” to determine the laws of this sonic universe, outline the principles used for its exploration and categorize the structures being created” (New York Times 1).  Science was demonstrated in music by strategically using a certain amount of notes at specific pitches to sound appealing to the audience. The Schiller Institute states that Bach used “four-voice choral phrases” (1). An example of a four-voice choral phase can be found in Bach’s Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden. 

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Above is a short bit of the music from The Passion, in which Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden, was part of. The notes are organized into fours, demonstrating the four-voice choral phases.

Works Cited

“Beyond Bach: Beethoven’s Studies of Bach’s Works.” Fidelio Article—Schiller Institute—Beyond Bach: Beethoven’s Studies of Bach’s Works. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2014.

“Musical Science.” The New York Times on the Web. The New York Times, Apr. 2009. Web. Oct. 2014.

Wold, Milo;  Martin, Gary;  Miller, James;  Cykler, Edmund. An Outline History of Western Music, Ninth Edition. Boston: McGraw Hill, 1998.

Humanism in the Renaissance

The Renaissance and Humanism 1400-1600 

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Background

According to Merriam Webster dictionary, humanism can be defined as “a philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual’s dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason” (Merriam Webster). Expressing humanism in the arts became an idea during the Renaissance from the 14th century to the 16th century, which was inspired by the Classical era in Greece and Rome. Hence the name “Renaissance” meaning “rebirth” of a time or revival of classical times. Aristotle and Plato played an important role in the philosophical aspect of humanism.

What Changed in Art

During this time, art shifted to express the personal achievements of human beings, rather than simply just showing Gothic style religious imagery in paintings and sculptures, which was essentially the entire meaning of humanism.

Gothic Style                                                                          Renaissance Style

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                      The above images display how humanism began to be portrayed in art. Gothic style focused more on sacred images, where the Renaissance demonstrates the individuality of the common people and their innate goodness, also known as humanism.

How Do We Know

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “A very clear view of the Humanistic movement may be gained from the writings of the biographer and beneficiary of Leo X., Paul Giovio (Jovius)” (IEP). Paul Giovio was a historian during the middle of the Renaissance and he wrote many historical essays about all of the people he encountered and knew about at that time; his works were a reliable source of information because of everything he eye witnessed. He wrote about Petrarch, an early humanist, and Boccaccio, another early humanist, as large influences during his time.

Examples

The WebMuseum, Paris, says, “Leon Battista Alberti’s work in Rimini and Mantua represented the most progressive architecture of the new humanism” (WebMuseum). His work shows real people in an optimistic manner.

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Jacopa di Cione, Madonna and Child in Glory

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The madonna with the child stand larger and more central than the angels, showing that they are vital figures in this painting; the philosophy of humanism is exemplified in this work because of that.

Giovanni Agostino da Lodi, Adoration of the Shepherds

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Jesus, baby Jesus and Mary are key components of this painting. However, humanism is displayed by also having a shepherd present and the background being not one of heavenly descent, but one of a common person.

Reaction to the Renaissance 

The art during the Renaissance had a wonderful idea behind it – the appreciation of human achievements and just human beings in general. It showed the personality and greatness of people. It could be related to and make people feel better about themselves, rather than making them feel small in comparison to the Church or religious imagery. It had the potential to make the average person feel important.

Works Cited

“Humanism.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2014.

“Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.” Renaissance Humanism []. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2014.

“La Renaissance: Italy.” WebMuseum:. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2014.