The 20th century brought many of the modern arts that we are used to see and enjoy every day. Ones of these are painting, literature, film and music. Painting 20th-century Western painting begins with the heritage of painters like Vincent van Gogh, who were essential for the development of modern art. By 1903 the impetus of Symbolism was expended and a new and enigmatic mood was forming. The new attitude drew on a vein that was comic, poetic, and fantastic, exploring an irrational quality akin to humour inherent in the creative process itself, as well as on a reserve of ironic detachment. This characteristic became one of the principal in modern art: •The new painters drew strength from unexpected sources. At the beginning of the 20th century Henri Matisse and several other young artists including the pre-cubist Georges Braque, André Derain, Raoul Dufy and Maurice de Vlaminck revolutionized the Paris art world with "wild", multi-colored, expressive, landscapes and figure paintings that the critics called Fauvism. Picasso dramatically created a new and radical picture depicting a raw and primitive brothel scene with five prostitutes, violently painted women, reminiscent of African tribal masks and his own new Cubist inventions. Analytic cubism, the first clear manifestation of cubism, was followed by synthetic cubism, practised by Braque, Picasso, Fernand Léger, Juan Gris, Albert Gleizes, Marcel Duchamp and countless other artists into the 1920s. Synthetic cubism is characterized by: •The introduction of different textures
•Large variety of merged subject matter
Les Fauves (French for The Wild Beasts) were early-20th-century painters, experimenting with freedom of expression through color. Fauvism was a short-lived and loose grouping of early-20th-century artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities, and the imaginative use of deep color over the representational values. Fauvists made the subject of the painting easy to read with exaggerated perspectives. In the 20’s synthetic cubism was characterized by the introduction of different textures, surfaces, collage elements, papier collé and a large variety of merged subject matter. During the years between 1910 and the end of World War I and after the heyday of cubism, several movements emerged in Paris. In the first two decades of the 20th century and after Cubism, several other important movements emerged: •Futurism (Balla), •Abstract art (Kandinsky)
•Orphism (Robert Delaunay and František Kupka),
•Synchromism (Morgan Russell)
•Dadaism (Duchamp, Picabia, Arp)
•Surrealism (De Chirico, André Breton, Miró, Magritte, Dalí, Ernst). Modern painting influenced all the visual arts, from Modernist architecture and design, to avant-garde film, theatre and modern dance and became an experimental laboratory for the expression of visual experience, from photography and concrete poetry to advertising art and fashion. Proponents of De Stijl sought to express a new utopian ideal of spiritual harmony and order. They advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour; they simplified visual compositions to the vertical and horizontal directions, and used only primary colors along with black and white. De Stijl movement was influenced by Cubist painting as well as by the mysticism and the ideas about "ideal" geometric forms (such as the "perfect straight line"). In 1924 André Breton published the Surrealist Manifesto. The Surrealist movement in painting became synonymous with the avant-garde and which featured artists whose works varied from the abstract to the super-realist. Surrealism as a visual movement had found a method: to expose psychological truth by stripping ordinary objects of their normal significance, in order to create a compelling image that was beyond ordinary formal organization, and perception. During the 1920s and the 1930s and the Great Depression, Surrealism, late Cubism, the Bauhaus, De Stijl, Dada, German Expressionism, Expressionism, and modernist and masterful color painters like Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard characterized the European art scene. Abstract expressionism has an image of being rebellious, anarchic, highly idiosyncratic and, some feel, rather nihilistic. Earlier in England in 1956 the term Pop Art was used by Lawrence Alloway for paintings that celebrated consumerism of the post World War II era. This movement rejected abstract expressionism and its focus on the hermeneutic and psychological interior, in favor of art which depicted, and often celebrated material consumer culture, advertising, and iconography of the mass production age.
The literature is mostly inspired by works of authors of the 20th century, many of these works still being very popular and analyzed in our times. Literary Modernism has its origins in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly in Europe and North America. Modernism is characterized by a self-conscious break with traditional styles of poetry and verse. At the beginning some modernists fostered a utopian spirit, stimulated by innovations in: •Anthropology •Psychology
Friedrich Nietzsche was one of the major precursor of modernism, guided by the aspects mentioned before. He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy, and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony, and aphorism. Nietzsche's key ideas include the "death of God," the Übermensch, the eternal recurrence, the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy, perspectivism, and the will to power. Central to his philosophy is the idea of "life-affirmation", which involves questioning of all doctrines that drain life's expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be. Modernist literature attempts to take into account changing ideas about reality developed by Darwin, Mach, Freud, Einstein, Nietzsche, Bergson and others. From this developed innovative literary techniques such as stream-of-consciousness, interior monologue, as well as the use of multiple points-of-view. This can reflect doubts about the philosophical basis of realism, or alternatively an expansion of our understanding of what is meant by realism. Style Regarding the style of writing they mainly used the juxtaposition, irony, comparisons, and satire are important elements found in modernist writing. Modernist authors use impressionism and other devices to emphasize the subjectivity of reality, and they see omniscient narration and fixed narrative points of view as providing a false sense of objectivity.
The plot, characters and themes of the text are not always presented in a linear way. It often forcefully opposes, or gives an alternative opinion, on a social concept. Common concerns of modernism are: the breaking down of social norms, rejection of standard social ideas, and traditional thoughts and expectations, rejection of religion and anger against the effects of the world wars. As well, modernists tend to reject history, social systems, and emphasize alienation in modern urban and industrial societies. Works Many great works come from this period:
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz written by L. Frank Baum in 1900 explores the theme of self-contradiction. The Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion all lack self-confidence. The Scarecrow believes that he has no brains, though he comes up with clever solutions to several problems that they encounter on their journey. The Tin Woodman believes that he lacks a heart, but is moved to tears when misfortune befalls the various creatures they meet. The Cowardly Lion believes that he has no courage even though he is consistently brave through their journey. The Call Of The Wild written by Jack London in 1903 is of survival and a return to primitivism. A Christian theme of love and redemption is also evident in the story, shown by Buck's refusal to revert to violence until after the death of Thornton—who won Buck's love and loyalty. The main theme is based on Darwin's concept of survival of the fittest. London places Buck in conflict with humans, in conflict with the other dogs, and in conflict with his environment—all of which he must challenge, survive and conquer. London also explores the question of "nature vs. nurture". Buck, raised as a pet, is by heredity a wolf. The change of environment releases his innate characteristics and strengths to the point that he fights for survival and he becomes leader of the pack. The Metamorphosis written by Frank Kafka in 1915 is often cited as one of the seminal works of fiction of the 20th century and is widely studied in colleges and universities across the Western world. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings written in between 1937 and 1949 became one of the most celebrated book sagas of all time. Personal growth and forms of heroism are central themes of the story. Tolkien's works incorporate much influence from Norse mythology reflecting his lifelong passion for those stories and his academic career in Germanic philology. The work shows influences from northern European literature, myths and languages. The representation of the dwarves in The Hobbit by Tolkien was influenced by his own selective reading of medieval texts regarding the Jewish people and their history. Casino Royale written by Ian Fleming in 1953, started the Bond saga and became a flag for the post-war Britain, showing a country in prosperity and with the main character adopting the characteristics of what was expected of a post-war Briton. To Kill a Mocking Bird written by Harper Lee in 1960 is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. The primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. It is also noted that Lee also addresses issues of class, courage, compassion, and gender roles in the American Deep South.
Films is second to music the most popular modern art in our time, and it started and developed to what it is now in the 20th century. It started in the late 19th century and it became popular because it was cheaper to show to the masses and also they didn’t have to travel long distances, maybe states to watch plays as they only had to travel to the nearest theater. The first years of filming were just a short film of just a few stills moving, using a small box to watch it one person at the time.
Films started to develop with each new advance in technology, working from stills to continuity. It started with a silent era that was characterized by being only a short footage of a simple scene being almost shorter than 2 minutes. Then it started to adapt to the new cameras and films and started to adopt the continuity and narrative of plays, it developed to art adopting a stylish way of filmmaking.
After the WWI, film started to become what it is today with the rise of Hollywood. The 20’s started with the silent era that made use of captions to continue the narrative of the movie. The most famous artist from the silent era is Charles Chaplin making some of what are considered to be among the best works of the era.
The silent era was short-lived and lasted until the 30’s with fewer silent films being made after this time. The early sound films struggled to synchronize sound and footage or made raw attempts to use simple dialog and almost still shots. Sound also helped to develop narration in filmmaking and benefited some genres. The musical was born with the coming of the sound as it only was a translation from a play to film. Horror movies and thrillers were given, thanks to the black and white footage, an atmosphere that highlighted the tension and emotions of characters. Dialogues became now more used and intricate as now they were replacing the slapstick humor of captions. Now they were fast-paced, witty, used double enterers or just non sense talk. Animation started in the early 30’s with the new movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Walt Disney that made use of then unknown techniques in shades, cells, and cropping of animated drawings and sound footage.
With the WWII most films with countries involved in the war, were used as propaganda against the Nazi Germany. After the war, many films used the feelings left by the war to sell movies, ranging from the love of home, of people lost to the adoption of the new life after WWII. It was in the 80’s when the modern film industry was born in what it is today, Making blockbusters, art film and sequels. Notable Works City Lights
This film is regarded as one of the best silent films and also one of the greatest films done by Charles Chaplin, who is regarded as the best silent film actor of all time. The film was made and released in 1931, at a time that the sound films were hitting it big, making almost all the silent films and stars obsolete. The film contains many characteristics from the silent film and sound films. Characteristics of sound films are the narrative and structure of containing continuous shots of film in a narrative form. And of the silent films are the slapstick humor used in some scenes, especially in the introduction of the mayor and his wife and in some crucial scenes. A major theme in City Lights is the contrast of material and spiritual wealth, translating life in the Great Depression. The millionaire is rich, but shallow and carefree, spending his money to escape from the real world and his empty lifestyle through heavy drinking. The blind girl is poor while rich in soul, with any income representing hope to overcome the struggles in her life. This resulted in the film being well received by the Depression era audience.
This film made in 1941 by Orson Welles is considered to be among the best works in the history. It was acclaimed not only by its story and acting, but also for the new techniques used in its making. The most obvious one was the use of deep focus. That is the focus on every aspect in the scene, not only on the actor. Another technique was the use of low angle shots, that allowed displaying a new point of view in some scenes, altering the power or presence of things.
Pulp Fiction, made in 1994 by Quentin Tarantino, is a masterpiece in film storytelling, cropping, sound edition, and camera techniques. The film doesn’t follow a linear storyline, instead altering the order of three different storylines using multiple protagonist, being flashbacks and interconnections of crucial scenes the main driving force of the story. It developed a new filming language in which every shot was made according to the dialogue or music used; now being both a very important part of the film and not just another part of it. The dialogue of each of the characters was different in style and dialect, even using pop culture and self awareness as tools in the screenplay.
Music in the 20th century changed almost every year and in the sixties not only changed the way of seeing things, but changed pop culture in a way that wasn’t and will never be seen again. History Modern music was born from three different genres:
Blues, country and jazz.
The blues form is a cyclic musical form in which a repeating progression of chords mirrors the call and response scheme commonly found in African and African-American music. Country music often consists of ballads and dance tunes with generally simple forms and harmonies accompanied by mostly string instruments such as banjos, electric and acoustic guitars. Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in black communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. Its African pedigree is evident in its use of blue notes, improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation, and the swung note. These were the main genres of music heard during the early 20’s trough the 50’s when music changed. During the 50’s, one genre was forming after the roots of the before mentioned genres. But it was popularized by the used of juvenile lyrics and a mix of not so common genres like soul, rhythm and blues and gospel. This music was popularized by the fact that now teenagers were the main driving force of consumerism and companies sold what they wanted. Elvis Presley brought that new genre, rock and roll, to the front of popular music, replacing Frank Sinatra as the main driving force of music. He opened the doors to new stage acts, dancing and singing songs that were condemned for its lyrics and suggestive dance moves. His music inspired many skiffle bands (a branch of jazz played by young Britons) in England to start playing rock and roll.
The British Invasion
During the late 50’s and early 60’s many rock and roll acts were fading as their main acts were fading into obscurity (Elvis being draft, Little Richard becoming Christian, Chuck Berry in jail). It was in England where a new popular band was getting more attention from the public and press. They were playing music that was rooted from rock and roll but with a new style. As they were becoming more popular in their native country, their manager and an American record company spent a lot of money in publicity for a single. In January 1964, that single reached the number 1 spot in the charts. In February 7th, 1964, that band called The Beatles landed in USA received by thousands of fans, and two days later they were on The Ed Sullivan Show, the most popular show at the time, drawing 73 millions of viewers, almost more than the third of the current American population at the time. Many British acts followed after their successful appearance like The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, many who would later be regarded as one of the best artists of all time. The records by The Beatles changed what people expected from musicians, as they played their own instruments, sang and wrote their own songs, and made extensive use of the studio. During the 10 years they were active, they were rivaled by no one, with each album being better, more advanced than the one before it. Their success made them the best band of all time with all of their albums being regarded as the best ever made. The music from the 60’s was distinguished by being experimental, based on their roots but with new recording techniques, use of Leslie, overdubs, sophisticated production and more.
Regarding painting, I’m not to fond of this period as I found that they tried too hard to create something. But about literature I can say it has the best works ever made. Ranging from psychology studies in form of novels or from sociology essays in a disguise of a short tale. Adapting feelings of many in epic novels, taking inspiration of the ones before it. I have read many works of this period and considerate this as one of the most prolific. In the aspect of film and music, I’m an enthusiast of both and I have studied them as well before. They are complex in a way that they changed and adapted themselves and are a picture of the time they were made.