Modern and Postmodern Art

Naum Gabo in his essay on neoplasticism and constructivism published in the book Theories of modern art tries to analyze the changes that have taken in the art world in modern years. He sees a clash between the new and the traditional forms of art with supporters of the conventional art trying hard to oppose today’s radical art (Gabo 325). To a great extent, Gabo criticizes futurists and cubists as having not made any headway in their efforts to make art more affordable to the masses.

According to him, cubists initially wanted to simplify the representative but they instead managed to provide its analysis and failed to move there (Gabo 326). Looking at the visual aesthetics of cubists, Gabo suggests that the founders of this revolution were basically working from experimentation and they did not succeed in making any meaningful change in the art world since they ended up retaining the decorative and graphic style of the old artistic styles (326).

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The author’s major criticism of the futurists is the fact that they came out ‘guns blazing’ promising revolutionary changes in the way art was created only for them to stagnate at phase one.

He describes the work of futuristic as very appealing at first glance but typically ordinary beneath the surface (Gabo 1). Gabo also has an issue with the way most futurists use the concept of speed to describe their work. He sees them as individuals whose understanding of the idea of speed has been skewed to the extent that they cannot appreciate its real representative; light (327).

The painting titled “I and Village” by Marc Chagall is a clear representation of the cubist artwork which Gabo has extensively criticized in his analysis. The argument that cubist work looks nice on the surface but is essentially the same traditional painting we have been seeing has been well represented in this piece (Chagall 1). Ignoring all the surface elements, the background reveals a conventional painting hence justifying Gabo’s proposition.

In the chapter on the foundation and manifesto of futurism from the book Theories of Modern Art, F.T Martinetti supports the idea of letting bygones be bygones and giving the new generation a chance (287). He equates admiring of an old piece of art to “pouring sentiments into a funeral urn” (Martinetti, 287).

Martinetti claims that people don’t see hope for the future due to the nature of people always wanting to glorify days past. He takes the essay as an opportunity to encourage people to accept modernity and face it as it is (Martinetti 286).

According to him, the new sceneries that are cropping up as a result of industrialization have created new landscapes which modern artists have to work with to create master pieces much like Cezanne handled the skies and the mountains. Unlike other critics and writer who have made careers criticizing modern art on the premise of it undergoing revolutionary changes on a daily basis, Martinetti feels that these changes should be encouraged (286-287). In fact, he suggests from his writing that art and technology should develop in the same pace.

The painting titled “Trinities Trine” by Jess is a good representation of futuristic work. Looking at it, a viewer can clearly isolate the modern elements which Martinetti is talking about in his essay. Jess while doing the painting most likely drew inspiration from what was infront of her. This might explain the futuristic science apparatus that define the entire painting.

Piet Mondrian’s essay on neo-plasticism, he proposes that art should not be a reproduction of real objects. Mondrian finds curves to be very emotional and do not necessarily represent the plastic expression of the whole being (288). In the essay, Mondrian accepts that changes are always happening around us and it will be almost illogical for us to try and ignore them.

He suggests that the best way to appreciate change especially in the art world is to abstain from trying to block its path. According to Mondrian, linear, horizontal and vertical arrangements are harmonious in nature while abstract is seen as intelligent, pure and natural (289).

He goes ahead to explain in the essay that the more planar a painting is in the sense that it avoids the usage of three dimensional representations, the more plastic it is (Mondrian, 289). The painting “The Hunter” by Joan Miro is a good reflection of Mondrian’s ideas. It avoids the usage of three dimensional characterization and all the objects represented are entirely planar (Miro 1).

Much as the colors used in this painting deviate slightly from the primary colors which define Mondrian’s ideologies, it can also be argued that his principle on acceptance of change as it happens have led to the emergence of even more properly defined ‘plastic’ ways of art representation.

The proposal by Mondrian that all art is essentially the same in terms of content clearly manifests in this painting (Mondrian 290). This piece of art has its own means of expression in the sense that different viewers will pick up different messages when looking at it clearly goes in line with Mondrian’s line of thought (Mondrian 290).

Works Cited

Chagall, Marc. I and the Village. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Painting.

Filippo, Martinetti. “The Foundation and Manifesto of Futurism.” Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics. Ed. Herschel Gabo. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1970. 284-289. Print.

Gabo, Naum. “Neoplasticism and Constructivism.” Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics. Ed. Herschel Gabo. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1970. 325-330. Print.

Miro, Joan. The Hunter. Museum of Modern Art, New York. Painting.

Mondrian, Piet. “Neoplasticism: The General Principle of Plastic Equivalence. “ Art in Theory: An Anthology of Changing Ideas. Ed. Harrison, Charles & Paul Wood. Great Britain: T.J. Press Ltd, 1992. 287-290. Print.

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