Saturday, May 27, 2017

Modernism's Brokenness and Ruthlessness

Odilon Redon
Cellule auriculaire
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Edvard Munch
Death of Marat
oil on canvas
Munch Museum, Oslo

"Modernism's brokenness and ruthlessness, say its enemies, are willed, forced, and ultimately futile.  We may even have escaped from them at last.  Modernism's extremity, say its false friends, is just surface appearance, beneath which the real matter of art  not just delights of manufacture, but what those delights have always given onto, moments of vision, here-and-now totalities, a usable past  is kept in being, no doubt against the odds.  When I say "false friends," it is not that I doubt the passion of their defense, or even that its rhetoric corresponds to much that modernists said of themselves.  But modernism, we shall see, is a process that deeply misrecognizes its own nature for much of the time.  How could it not be?  It is Art.  And for Art to abandon what Art most intensely had been, and nonetheless to proceed, nonetheless to go on imagining the world otherwise  just otherwise, not epitomized or complete  is not likely to happen without all kinds of reaction-formation on the part of artists."

 T.J. Clark, from Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism (Yale University Press, 1999)

Edvard Munch
Shore with red house
oil on canvas
Munch Museum, Oslo

Edgar Degas
Woman ironing
ca. 1892-95
oil on canvas
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Ladies in the dining room
ca. 1893-95
oil on cardboard
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Eugène Jansson
Ring Gymnast I
oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Koloman Moser
Loïe Fuller in the dance, The Archangel
Albertina, Vienna

Gustave Klimt
Hope II
oil on canvas
Museum of Modern Art, New York

Maximilien Luce
Street in Paris in May 1871
oil on canvas
ca. 1903-06
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
Nackte Mädchen unterhalten sich
oil on canvas
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf

Ferdinand Hodler
The Sacred Hour
ca. 1902-1916
oil on canvas
Cincinnati Art Museum

Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
Study for Patriotism
ca. 1893
oil on paper
Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki, Japan

Lovis Corinth
Blind Samson
oil on canvas
Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Édouard Vuillard
The Artist’s Mother opening a door
oil on cardboard
Minneapolis Institute of Arts