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ARTH208: Modern Art

Unit 4: The Manifesto Era: Suprematism, Constructivism, Dada and Surrealism   In this unit, you will study Suprematism, Constructivism, Dada, and Surrealism: art movements of the early 20th century that attempted to shift perspectives on art and its place in society. For example, with the emergence of Surrealism in the 1920s, key artists such as André Breton and Max Ernst portrayed dream-like scenes from the unconscious, depicting a realistic world inhabited entirely by unreal entities. The depiction of the life of the mind was a major contribution to the history of art.

In this unit, you will become familiar with the notion of art as manifesto: you will explore the ways in which artists from this era set forth their goals through declarative written statements and used art as a vehicle for social and/or political change, and will examine the processes by which “non-art” objects and ideas infiltrated the realm of fine art. You will also learn about the Bauhaus, an influential school for modern artists in training, and will discover how this institution and its instructors promoted radical ideas about artistic production while bridging the worlds of art, design, and industry.

Unit 4 Time Advisory
Time Advisory:  This unit should take you 30 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 4 hours ☐    Subunit 4.1.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 4.1.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.1.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2: 4 hours ☐    Subunit 4.2.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 4.2.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3: 6 hours ☐    Subunit 4.3.1: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.4: 5.5 hours ☐    Subunit 4.4.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 4.4.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.4.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.4.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.5: 8.5 hours ☐    Subunit 4.5.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 4.5.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.5.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.5.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.5.5: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.5.6: 1.5 hours

☐    Assignment: 1 hour

☐    Assessment: 1 hour

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Define the movements known as Suprematism, Constructivism, Dada, and Surrealism. - Explain the role that written manifestoes played in the emergence of these movements. - Identify works of art where the unconscious, political ideology, and found objects are major subjects, and explain how these elements contributed to, and were a product of, the modern era.

4.1 The Russian Suprematists: A Search for Superiority   4.1.1 Suprematism   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Suprematism” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Suprematism” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. While reading this page, you will notice a passage that begins with “Suprematist painting abandoned realism.” Think about what this means, and what the Suprematist artists (chiefly Kazimir Malevich) were trying to achieve with their art by abandoning realism. Finally, think about what visual characteristics Suprematist art possesses that would suggest such an abandonment of realism. Finally, consider the root of the name “Suprematism,” and identify reasons for why the Suprematist artists considered their art supreme.
 
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4.1.2 Kazimir Malevich   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Kazimir Malevich” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Kazimir Malevich” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Malevich used a number of different and distinctive motifs throughout his work, most notably, geometric shapes such as circles, triangles, and squares, the last of which comprise his most famous paintings. Through his use of an abstract visual language dominated by such elements, Malevich truly believed he was making a revolutionary contribution not only to the development of art but also society as well. Considering Malevich’s native country, the time period in which he lived, and his fellow artists, think about why Malevich believed his art was so groundbreaking.
 
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4.1.3 El Lissitzky   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “El Lissitzky” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “El Lissitzky” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. El Lissitzky’s work was very important to the Suprematist and Constructivist movements. However, there are key differences in both artistic style and content between Lissitzky’s art and that of his one-time mentor, Kazimir Malevich. After reading about Lissitzky, you may wish to briefly revisit the Malevich page and identify some of those key differences. Finally, identify some of the artist’s personal traits and beliefs that likely contributed to his art.
 
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4.2 Constructivism: Building Something New   4.2.1 Constructivism: Building Something New   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Constructivism” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Constructivism” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. As with Suprematism, consider the root of the name “Constructivism.” The Constructivist artists, many of whom were also associated with Suprematism, established this movement as a means to create something utterly new and revolutionary. Read this page closely for references to the Constructivist ideology and to what the Constructivists were attempting to achieve. Additionally, identify the term “Productivism,” its definition, and consider the importance of this movement within the larger Constructivist movement.

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4.2.2 Vladimir Tatlin   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Vladimir Tatlin” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Vladimir Tatlin” (PDF)

 Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Tatlin’s work, much
like Constructivism itself, combined elements of Cubism, Futurism,
andSuprematism, and includes artworks that were hybrids of sculpture
and architecture.  

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4.2.3 Alexander Rodchenko   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Alexander Rodchenko” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Alexander Rodchenko” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Rodchenko is a key example of an artist whose work and politics were virtually interchangeable. While reading this page, pay close attention to content that refers to the Russian Revolution, the political beliefs associated with it, and Rodchenko’s relationship to the event. What were Rodchenko’s artistic achievements, and were they as effective as he hoped they would be?

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4.3 Dada: Mocking the Status Quo   4.3.1 Dada   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Dada” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Dada” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Dada was truly avant-garde for its concern with the deconstruction of both standard forms and conventional ideas in art. While reading this page, identify some of the forms and ideas the Dada artists were out to deconstruct, or outright nullify. As an option, you may wish to read excerpts from Tristan Tzara’s "Dada's Manifesto" to get a better idea of the tenets of this iconoclastic and highly influential movement.
 
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  • Reading: University of Pennsylvania: Tristan Tzara’s “Dada Manifesto” Link: University of Pennsylvania: Tristan Tzara’s “Dada Manifesto”
     
    Instructions: Please read the linked page in full.
     
    NOTE: This is an OPTIONAL READING, and is not factored into the time advisory for this subunit.
     
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4.3.2 Marcel Duchamp   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Marcel Duchamp” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Marcel Duchamp” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Duchamp’s greatest contribution to modern art was quite possibly the “Readymade.” Read carefully for the definition of this art form and identify examples of it in Duchamp’s Major Works. Consider why the Readymade is such a unique and important contribution to modern art. Finally, identify some of the different modern art movements that were directly influenced by Duchamp’s ideas.
 
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4.3.3 Francis Picabia   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Francis Picabia” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Francis Picabia” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Unlike most modern artists, Picabia frequently shifted between abstraction and figuration, showing preference for neither. Read this page carefully and look for references to this pattern throughout his work. In particular, identify some of the abstract and figurative qualities in Picabia’s work, and consider the artist’s relationship to the central concepts of the Dada movement.

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4.3.4 Man Ray   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Man Ray” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Man Ray” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Man Ray’s most significant contribution to the avant-garde was (arguably) his work in photography. Pay particularly close attention to the page’s Mature Period and Late Years sections in the biography and identify the artist’s specific discoveries in this medium. Think about how these new developments in photography are connected to Dada; feel free to revisit the readings from subunit 4.3.1 when considering these connections.
 
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4.4 The Bauhaus: A Back-to-Basics Approach Creates Unexpected Results   4.4.1 Bauhaus   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Bauhaus” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Bauhaus” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. In existence from 1919 until 1933, the Bauhaus was critical for pre-war European artists and remains one of the most significant modern art movements of the early twentieth century. What’s more, many of the era’s most celebrated architects trained and taught at the school, resulting in an architectural style known simply as “Bauhaus” that is still practiced to this day. Beyond architecture, what was so unique in the founding ethos of the school?
 
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4.4.2 Josef Albers   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Josef Albers” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Josef Albers” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. While reading, you will note that Albers was among the first artists to experiment with “geometric abstraction.” Read this page carefully and look at his Major Works, and consider what Albers was trying to achieve with this particular style, and how the artist’s experimental and distinctively modern art is emblematic of the Bauhaus’s teachings.
 
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4.4.3 Paul Klee   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Paul Klee” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Paul Klee” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. You will note in reading this page that many parallels have been made between Klee’s art and musical composition. Read carefully for such references and identify ways in which Klee’s art was both distinctly modern and idiosyncratic, defying categorization into any one particular movement or school. What did he take away from his connection to the Bauhaus?

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4.4.4 Laszlo Moholy-Nagy   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Laszlo Moholy-Nagy” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Laszlo Moholy-Nagy” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Moholy-Nagy is among the most influential modern artists of the twentieth century for his prolific output in multiple media. Read this page carefully and take note of Moholy-Nagy’s diverse uses of materials and identify the scope of his influence in media such as sculpture, painting, and photography. Also observe his critical role as an educator at institutions such as the Bauhaus and the Institute of Design in Chicago.
 
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4.5 The Surrealists: Unlocking the Unconscious   4.5.1 Surrealism   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Surrealism” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Movements: “Surrealism” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. One of the central tenets of Surrealism was the expression of “pure thought.” While reading this page, and looking closely at the Major Works, consider what this means. Additionally, you may wish to take notes on the definition of the movement, how it directly influenced subsequent movements like Abstract Expressionism, and the range of artists who applied its ideas to different media like painting, film, and sculpture.
 
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4.5.2 André Breton   - Reading: Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “André Breton” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “André Breton” (PDF)

 Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Breton has been called
the “Pope of Surrealism” for his unique contribution to, and leading
role in, the movement. Consider reading his 1924 “Surrealist
Manifesto,”if you have additional time. While reading this page,
look carefully for references to Breton’s specific ideas about
Surrealism and how these ideas developed throughout the 1920s and
1930s.  

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  • Reading: University of Alabama: André Breton’s “Surrealist Manifesto” Link: University of Alabama: André Breton’s “Surrealist Manifesto”
     
    Instructions: Please read the linked page in full.
     
    NOTE: This is an OPTIONAL READING, and is not factored into the time advisory for this subunit.
     
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4.5.3 Max Ernst   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Max Ernst” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Max Ernst” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. As one of Surrealism’s founding members, Ernst’s artistic innovations became well known and his influence on other Surrealists widespread. Read this page closely for references to Ernst’s influence in this regard and, if you so choose, take notes on how his art and ideas contributed to the emergence of Abstract Expressionism.

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4.5.4 René Magritte   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “René Magritte” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “René Magritte” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. While reading this page, pay particularly close attention to the “Key Ideas” section. For each of these points, identify one or more of Magritte’s Major Works that fit a description from the Key Ideas. Additionally, look closely at Magritte’s Late Period and consider how the artist’s work and approach to art changed during this time period.  Keep in mind the ideas of Duchamp and Breton as you read about Magritte’s contribution to modern art.
 
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4.5.5 Salvador Dalí   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Salvador Dalí” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Salvador Dalí” (PDF)

 Instructions: Read the linked page in full. No other Surrealist is
more recognizable and controversial than Salvador Dalí, whose art
was said to “mine the subconscious,” yielding highly distinctive
imagery. Read this page carefully and identify key points that
reference Dalí’s attempted goals in painting this way. Finally,
think about examples of artists that were influenced by Dalí’s art
and ideas.  

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4.5.6 Joan Miró   - Reading: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Joan Miró” Link: The Art Story Foundation’s Artists: “Joan Miró” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read the linked page in full. Miró’s Surrealist works employed the use of biomorphic forms. While reading this page, look closely for references to this term, and after reading about Miró’s artistic approach and looking at his Major Works, articulate the meaning of biomorphism, and explain specifically how the artist applied such forms within his work.
 
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  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation's "Unit 4 Essay" Link: The Saylor Foundation's "Unit 4 Essay" (PDF)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above to download the instructions to write this essay.  Please address all of the questions for your essay, and then check your response against the Saylor Foundation's "Rubric for Unit 4 Essay" (PDF) and the “Sample Essay.” (PDF) You should spend approximately 1 hour completing this short essay and checking your response against the rubric and sample essay.