FULL - Course 122: From Manet to Pollock:
Major Transformations in Artistic Style
Leader: Wolfgang Gunter
Description: During a short period of eighty-five years (1863 - 1958), art underwent its most dramatic change in history from Neo-Classical style to Abstract Expressionism. The purposes of this course are to describe and explain these exciting innovations and transformations of artistic style. A major theme will be how changes in technology shaped these new directions. In the mid-1800s, the Paris art world was controlled by the conservative Academy of Fine Arts and the preferred style of painting was Neo-Classical--mainly portraits, battle scenes and historic events. The technological development of photography rendered the established style obsolete. Artists responded to this challenge with new ways of looking at and painting objects, leading to Impressionism. The invention of the steam engine also made artists more mobile, making it easier for them to paint "en plain air," and light and its changing quality, became important. Impressionism progressed and the 'Fauve' (Wild Beasts) opened the door for Cubism, driven by the creative ideas and collaboration of Picasso and Braque (1906 - 1914). Cubism created multiple perspectives on objects, including simultaneous views of the front, back and side of things and multileveled, non- rational spaces. Picasso said: "I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them". Fernand Leger further developed this idea, leading eventually to Abstract painting. In parallel, Surrealism, best exemplified by Dali flourished. Influenced by the scientific progress of Einstein and Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis, the Surrealists expressed the unconscious and the dream world. Dali saw himself as the protector against the menace of abstract art, but Mondrian, Kandinsky and others finally led to the Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock. However, artistic innovation did not stop here. The art world has seen a proliferation of artistic styles, and a continuous discussion of "what constitutes art."
Biography: Wolfgang Gunter received his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cologne and during his 25 year career worked and lived in Europe, the US and Asia. His interests include art, diving, physics, cosmology and neuroscience.
Materials for course: A unique feature of the course is that most of the paintings used to illustrate the transformations in artistic style are high quality oil copies of the masterpieces, with beautiful framing, from the course leader's personal collection. These pictures will be used as a basis for the course leader's presentations and to stimulate class discussion.
Number of Participants: Minimum: 6; Maximum: 16
Location: Red Cross Building - Edna Sheary Room
Meeting Time: Fridays, March 1 through April 12, 10 - 11:30 a.m. NOTE: NO CLASS MARCH 8