American Art Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1684 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

¶ … Armory Show of 1913 was one of the most influential events in the history of the American artistic movement. The exhibit was special because it contained a myriad of highly controversial paintings. Two specific parts are significant because in the wake of previously large independent art exhibits, the Armory Show was by the largest with a total of 1250 paintings, sculptures and decorative works. Such an exhibit with its breath of artists showed that America had expanded its tastes to a much broader understanding of the art around the world. Three paintings stood out in their controversy and signal the beginning of a new era largely due to this exhibit. Cezanne's painting of Hill of the Poor, was displayed after purchase by the Metropolitan Museum. It was because of this piece's display within the Armory Show that modernism moved into official art circles. Their display of Duchamp's Nude Descending the Staircase as well as Matisse's piece Luxury all showed that this display was meant to be avant-garde, and to push the boundaries of art. The reason that this particular show was so significant because it showed not only the breathe of American art collection, which now rivaled that of Europe's, but also that American art culture has emerged to be a leader in avant-garde art development. In its wake, the next fifty years of modernism would be primarily dominated by American artists such as Pollock and Warhol.

2) a) The two paintings "Portrait of a Germany Officer" by Marsden Hartley and "The Figure 5 in Gold" by Charles Demuth are considered two of the most recognized modernism paintings in the world. While Hartley's Portrait of a German Officer was made in traditional oil on canvas, Demuth chose to use cardboard as his medium. This important difference creates a significant texture difference between the two paintings. While Hartley's painting appears very rugged discolored, largely due to intentionally rough strokes that leaves uneven imprints upon his painting, Demuth's appears extremely smooth almost as if the painting is rendered rather than painted. Both of these authors use extremely bold colors and emphasize black within their painting. For Hartley this means using predominantly red within the areas that are most central to the painting and using black and grey throughout to contrast. Demuth also uses red as his predominant color, however he uses far more shades of grey to soften the overall painting. This creates a different effect from the color tones, for Hartley, his painting is bold and contrasting while Demuth's is elegant and harmonic. The two used contrasting techniques, with Hartley using rough strokes and coarse and thinned paint, whereas Demuth uses very delicate brush strokes and very elegant symmetrical design.

A b) The Figure 5 in Gold is similar to Portrait of a German Officer because they are both meant to be dedicated to someone the painters admired. In Demuth's case, he dedicated the painting as homage to a poem written by William Carlos Williams. While Hartley's painting was dedicated to Karl von Freyburg who was a Prussian lieutenant that Hartley was enamored with. It is evident that both of these paintings use the physical likeness of the artist's friend to emphasize the connection. Demuth's work, although technically represents a red fire truck is contoured to the shape of a man. The same applies to Hartley's imagery and general contour of his primary subject. Both artists also use many different images that were associated with their friends. Within Demuth's painting he uses the poet's initials throughout the work as well as the names Bill and Carlos. Hartley also uses a diverse amount of personal images such as the symbol of the Prussian army prominently featured in the center of the painting. The primary difference in purpose is that Demuth's work is suppose to be representative of a poem, and as a result seems to flow to the words of the poem such as the imagery of red fire trucks, gongs, and clanging. Whereas Hartley is meant to represent the man that is the Prussian officer and thus attempts to characterize an individual rather than stay consistent with a theme.

A c) Both of these works care considered "modern" for several reasons. First it is painted in an abstract style, these works begin with the assumption that color and shape both form the essential characteristics of art. This belief is evident in their choice of numbers and colors that do not make any articulate sense within the natural world. The use of pure color, rather than many different shades also helps fit the "modernism" mold. The main purpose and fundamental reasoning behind these two works is to depict their friends in a spiritual rather than physical sense, this is strongly associated with modernist thinking. These two paintings are modern precisely because it practices elements of abstract creation and representation of physical objects and individuals through a use of functional objects and forms rather than natural depictions.

1) Winslow Homer's painting represented a shift in the focus of art during the latter half of the 19th century. The civil war and the industrial expansion period in the earlier half of the century meant that the focus was primarily focused on war scenery and industrial imagery. Winslow Homer brought naturalism to full force within the United States. He is considered America's foremost naturalist painter. His views of the American landscape inspired the American people and showed the beauty within the American landscape. As a result, the artistic movement within this area shifted to an emphasis on nature. He was most notable for his seascapes off the Maine coastline.

2) Of the two artists Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer, Eakins was much more the realist, while Homer was the romantic painter. Thomas Eakins' paintings are held in the same regard alongside other greater realism painters of his era such as Courbet, Manet and Degas. Eakins' approach to art is very deliberate and meticulous. His paintings, especially Oeuvre, show off his passion for exactness and complete technical precision. He chooses to depict people in action and especially the exacting detail of individuals, thus many of his most famous works are of surgeons. He also was deeply traditional in his artwork which meant that he assimilated different kinds of artistic conventions and techniques. Home is considered by far the more romantic artist because of many of his works that are both imaginative and stylistically different. One of his most famous paintings, A Fair Wind or also called Breezing Up, he paints voyagers embarking upon an imagery voyage. The blending of romanticism within this painting is evident in the figures that are central to the painting. They are unimaginably relaxed as they sail into the wind yet they are engaged in the tasks of manning the boat. The imagery and the context of his painting characterize Homer's oftentimes romanticism inspired paintings.

3) The primary similarity between the two paintings is in their technique which was principally very real depictions of the nude body. Both artists used the traditional oil on canvas as a medium for their paintings although Bellows paints his Forty Two Kids with much darker and blended colors. This technique creates an almost hazy depiction of the scene and the blended colors give the overall ambience of a violent contrast between the water and the naked boys. In contrast, The Swimming Hole by Eakins' shows Eakins' exacting demand of reality and technique. The painting is meticulously colored to show every detail even the ripples within the water are meticulously colored and highlighted. This attention to detail, which is lacking in the more amorphous Bellows painting, brings the individuals to life within the picture. It also creates more synergy within the painting, while Bellows' painting appears much more abstract and fantastical because of the use… [END OF PREVIEW]

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