Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Poetry & Paintings for Thursday--The Avant-Garde

Whereas today we investigated works that established communion or connection in the midst of the chaotic crowd (Whitman, American "Realist" painters), for Thursday we'll consider poems and paintings that ostensibly challenge the possibility of such contact--or suggest, at least, that former "traditional" notions of representation are outmoded in the 20th Century. Hence, some of the work will challenge us through various methods of "abstraction"--purposeful distortions of the traditional visual/verbal field that mirror many of the distortions (multiple perspectives, amoral aesthetics) that we have associated with the rise of modernity.

Some of the paintings we will look at come from European artists, while others are from Americans they inspired. Cubism sums up (more or less) the "school of thought" surrounding the work, a style that "emphasized the flat, two-dimensional surface of the picture plane, and rejected the traditional techniques of perspective, foreshortening, modeling..." (Brittanica).
For Picasso this rejection took an explicitly primitive turn with his use of African masks, for Duchamps it was a satire on the traditional beauty of the "nude."

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