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ARTH209: 20th Century Art

Unit 3: Futurism, German Expressionism, and Brancusi   In this unit, we will explore further developments in modernist art in the 1910s. We start with Futurism, a radical avant-garde movement that emerged in Milan, Italy, in 1909. The Futurists wanted to create an art that would definitively break away from the past, one that would instead convey the speed and dynamism of modern urban and industrial life. The German Expressionists consisted of two groups: Die Brücke (The Bridge) and Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). Both groups valued the art of non-Western and premodern cultures; both used increasingly abstract styles and strong colors to emphasize the artist’s personal expressivity. The Rumanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi, working primarily in France, developed a streamlined form of abstraction that combined references to Rumanian folk art with intimations of the spiritual.

Unit 3 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take approximately 7.5 hours.

☐    Subunit 3.1: 4 hours

☐    Subunit 3.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 3.3: 0.5 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- describe and identify the visual elements and technical processes of Futurist and Expressionist art; - discuss the themes and values that intrigued Futurist and Expressionist artists; - explain the differences between figurative and nonfigurative painting; - explain the role of Wassily Kandinsky in 20th-century abstract art; - demonstrate knowledge of the main contributors to the development of Futurism and German Expressionism; and - discuss the sources and meanings of Brancusi’s abstraction.

3.1 Italian Futurism   - Reading: The Art Story: “Futurism” Link: The Art Story: “Futurism” (HTML)

 Instructions: First read over this page as an introduction to
Futurism. Be sure to click on “More” under “Beginnings”. Then click
on each of the images under “Analysis of Art Works” at the top of
the page and read the accompanying text. Finally, click on “Umberto
Boccioni Page” on the right side of the page and read about this
artist. Be sure to click on “More” under “Umberto Bioccioni
Biography”. Then click on each image under “Analysis of Umberto
Boccioni’s Art Works” at the top of the page to read about the
individual works. As you read this material, please pay particular
attention to Futurism’s connections with popular culture and
technology, its relationship to the art of the past, and the values
it espoused.  

 Reading this material should take approximately 2 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Web Media: Khan Academy’s SmartHistory: Chad Laird and Dr. Beth Harris’s “Three Futurists: Balla, Severini and Boccioni” Link: Khan Academy’s SmartHistory: Chad Laird and Dr. Beth Harris’s “Three Futurists: Balla, Severini and Boccioni” (Flash)

    Instructions: Watch this video, which discusses Giacoma Balla’s Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash, Gino Severini’s Dynamic Hieroglyph of the Bal Tabarin, and Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space. Consider the similarities and differences in their methods for conveying motion and the meanings that their works evoke.
     
    Watching this video should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareALike 3.0 United States License. It is attributed to Khan Academy. 

  • Reading: unknown.nu: F. T. Marinetti’s “The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism” Link: unknown.nu: F. T. Marinetti’s “The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this essay. As you do, try to answer the following questions: What are the elements of modern life that Marinetti values most highly and why? Which aspects of the past does he reject and why? What are the social and political implications of his manifesto?
     
    Reading this essay and answering the questions should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.2 German Expressionism   - Reading: The Art Story: “Expressionism” Link: The Art Story: “Expressionism” (HTML)

 Instructions: First, read over this page as an introduction to
Expressionism. Then click on each of the images under
“Groundbreaking Works” at the top of the page and read the
accompanying texts. Finally, click on “Detail View” under Ernst
Ludwig Kirchner and Paul Klee on the right side of the page and read
about each of these Expressionist artists. Remember to click on the
images at the top right of each artist’s page to read about the
individual works. As you read this material, consider how the
Expressionists’ attitudes toward modernity are similar to or
different from those of the Futurist artists. What similarities or
differences can you identify in the styles of the Expressionists and
Futurists?  

 Reading these essays should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.2.1 Die Brücke (The Bridge) Group   - Reading: The Art Story: “Ernst Ludwig Kirchner” Link: The Art Story: “Ernst Ludwig Kirchner” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this essay. Be sure to click on “More” after the
artist’s biography, and then click on each of the images under
“Analysis of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Art Works” at the top of the
page and read the descriptions.  

 Reading this essay should take approximately 30 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Web Media: Khan Academy’s SmartHistory: Dr. Juliana Kreinik, Dr. Beth Harris, and Dr. Steven Zucker’s “Expressionism & Kirchner's Street, Dresden Link: Khan Academy’s SmartHistory: Dr. Juliana Kreinik, Dr. Beth Harris, and Dr. Steven Zucker’s “Expressionism & Kirchner's Street, Dresden (Flash)

    Instructions: Watch this video, which is about Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Street, Dresden.
     
    Watching this video should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.2.2 Wassily Kandinsky and Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) Group   - Reading: The Art Story: “Wassily Kandinsky” Link: The Art Story: “Wassily Kandinsky” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this page as an introduction to the life and
works of Wassily Kandinsky. Then click on each of the images under
“Major Works” at the top of the page and read the accompanying
text. As you read, consider the following questions: How did
Kandinsky hope to convey the spiritual through abstract art? How did
he see the role of the artist in modern society? What did he hope to
achieve through his art? How do Kandinsky’s goals for modern art
compare to those of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner?  

 Reading this essay and answering the questions should take
approximately 45 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: mariabuszek.com: Expressionism: Web “Reserve” Readings: Wassily Kandinsky’s “Excerpts from Concerning the Spiritual in Art Link: mariabuszek.com: Expressionism: Web “Reserve” Readings: Wassily Kandinsky’s “Excerpts from Concerning the Spiritual in Art (HTML)

    Instructions: Please scroll down the page and click on “Wassily Kandinsky: Excerpts from Concerning the Spiritual in Art” and read this piece. In this book, Kandinsky claimed that the formal elements of art—color, line, shape, and composition—could have a direct effect on the human soul. This meant that artists could be spiritual leaders in the increasingly materialistic societies of the modern world. It also suggested that art was a universal means of communication, one that could transcend national and cultural boundaries. These excerpts illuminate his passionate commitment to utopian goals for art. After you have read them, take another look at the images in the Art Story’s “Wassily Kandinsky” reading earlier in this section. In your opinion, how successfully did Kandinsky convey his ideas in his art works?

    Reading this essay and answering the question should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: Khan Academy’s SmartHistory: Dr. Juliana Kreinik, Dr. Beth Harris, and Dr. Steven Zucker’s “Kandinsky’s Composition VII” Link: Khan Academy’s SmartHistory: Dr. Juliana Kreinik, Dr. Beth Harris, and Dr. Steven Zucker’s “Kandinsky’s Composition VII (YouTube)

    Instructions: Watch this video, which discusses Wassily Kandinsky’s Composition VII.
     
    Watching this video should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareALike 3.0 United States License. It is attributed to Khan Academy. 

3.3 Constantin Brancusi   - Web Media: Philadelphia Museum of Art: “Constantin Brancusi’s The Kiss” Link: Philadelphia Museum of Art: “Constantin Brancusi’s The Kiss” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this page, paying particular attention to the
elements that make this sculpture modern. Then click on the play
button on the “Audio Stop” at the top of the page. Click on the zoom
sign on the picture of *The Kiss* to view a larger image of this
sculpture.  

 Reading this page and watching the video should take approximately
15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Web Media: Khan Academy’s SmartHistory: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker’s “Brancusi’s Bird in Space Link: Khan Academy’s SmartHistory: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker’s “Brancusi’s Bird in Space (Flash)

    Instructions: Watch this video. Note the way that Brancusi used materials as well as form to convey meanings in this abstract sculpture.

    Watching this video should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “ARTH209 Unit 3 Quiz” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “ARTH209 Unit 3 Quiz” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Complete this assessment to gauge your understanding of the topics covered in this unit. The correct answers will be displayed when you click the “Submit” button.
     
    Completing the quiz and reviewing, if necessary, should take approximately 15 minutes.