Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Surrealism makes me Wonder...

Edgar Degas                                    

Rain Morehouse    9.9.12

     On July 19th, in the year 1834; Edgar Germain-Hilaire de Gas was born.  He was born to a wealthy Franco-Italian family, and he was the eldest of his four siblings. He was birthed and raised in Paris, France, and was strongly encouraged at an early age to pursue the arts; although not as a long-term career.  Edgar’s father pressured him into studying law, and so for a brief period of time he attended law school.  But in 1855, Degas decided to enroll in a highly praised art school in Paris, called ‘Ecole des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts).  While training at the Art school, he studied drawing under the academic artist Louis Lamothe.  Degas graduated in 1853, and received a baccalaureate in literature at his graduation.  Shortly after, Edgar registered at the Louvre as a copyist at the young age of 18.  This was a very significant part of his career in art, and he claimed later in life that it was the foundation for any true artist.  A few years later, Degas moved to Italy to pursue the arts, and settled down in Rome for three years. 

    Degas was significantly influenced by Japanese prints, where they suggested novel approaches to composition.  Japanese prints had bold, linear designs and expressed a sense of flatness that intrigued Degas; this was very different from traditional Western art and its perspective view of the world.  Degas was regarded as one of the founders of the Impressionist art movement, even though his style was quite differing; but he rejected the term of being an Impressionist.  He preferred to be called a Realist, because Edgar often depicted his subjects in his pictures within the third person.  Realism believed in the ideology of objective reality, and was against Romanticism.  Degas identified himself with this term instead.  Edgar was a superb draftsman, and is highly identified with the subject of dance; and over half of his artistic works are of dancers.  His interest was in the human form, and the athletic physicality of dancers and ballerinas especially caught his attention.  His studies addressed the movement of the body, exploring the physical strength and discipline of the dancers through contorted postures and unexpected vantage points; the strange vantage points he used was also very specific to Degas, and he was known for these third-person viewpoints.  But he also studied and drew jockeys and horse races for the interesting movement performed within it, as well as a number of nudes and working women; such as laundresses and milliners.  The performing arts were a huge part of Degas’ artistic career.  Being that is he famously known for his dancers and ballerinas, even though he is associated with painting dancers for all the wrong reasons.  “They called me the painter of dancers,” Edgar said, “without understanding that for me the dancer has been the pretext for painting beautiful fabrics and rendering movements.”  But along with painting dancers, he has also painted other factors of the performing arts; such as orchestra scenes, musicians, theatre, operas, and cabaret performances. 

    Edgar Degas was very experimental with his mediums in art, often drawing with chalk, painting with oil on canvas, and sketching dancers in pencil and charcoal.  But Degas was most known for his pastel drawings, and was once called the “Pastel Master”.  He enjoyed using different pastel art techniques and his innovative drawings on differently colored bases, experiments of shapes and textures of pastel strokes.  And with the element of “unfinished” pastel works, Degas truly redefined drawing with soft pastels.  Edgar was also quite wealthy, coming from a rich family, and so he was able to view dancers in rehearsal; before and after shows, and just stretching in the back studio; because it cost a fee to have access to the back stage where the ballerinas resided before and after shows, only the wealthier men could afford to do so.  This impacted Degas’ artwork and style by showing him who the dancers really were, that they were just as human as any one of us.  Because behind the scenes he was able to view the dancers in their stretches, their contorted poses, and watch them massage their aching feet.  Degas wanted to paint ballerinas in their natural state, and the pressures they faced being dancers, not just the perfect ballerinas they are on stage; he wanted something deeper.  This however was quite new to the world to see paintings and sketches of ballerinas not perfectly poised and elegantly twirling, and sometimes controversial to those who were conventional.  But before Degas, no one had ever viewed and recorded what it really meant to be a dancer, and so Degas showed the world the real life of a dancer. 

Vocabulary 1

Portfolio Assignment #1 Vocab


Art Nouveau:

·         Dates the movement started and ended: 1890 – 1910

·         Movement originated: France

      ·        Movement spread to or remained in area of origin: France, Germany, Belgium,   
                 Switzerland, Austria, Malta, Britain, Italy, Hungary, Spain, Czech lands, Latvia, and all over central and Eastern Europe.  It also spread to Portugal, Japan, Norway, and South America. 

 ·         Definition of movement: It was an international philosophy and style of art; Art Nouveau meaning “new art”.  It was applied to art, especially the decorative arts. 

 ·         Characteristics defining movement: It was inspired by natural forms, such as flowers, Plants and naturally curved lines.  Architects who used it were trying to harmonize with the natural world around them. 

 ·         Movement was used in other areas, such as architecture, aside from just the fine arts: It was featured in advertisements for plays, and theatre acts, as well as in magazines, and furniture.  but it was especially applied and seen in architectural works.

 ·         Artists (list 2 -3) known for their work in this movement: Alphonse Mucha, and Victor Horta.





·         Dates the movement started and ended: Early 20th Century; 1907 - 1911

·         Movement originated: Developed in Paris; Cubism was pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.

 ·         Movement spread to or remained in area of origin: The European cultural elite were beginning to discover African, Micronesian, and Native American art for the first time in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.  Artists including Paul Gauguin, Henry Matisse, and Pablo Picasso were soon intrigued and inspired by these cultures simplicity of styles.  Sparking the beginnings of Cubism and this new movement of primitivism spread all throughout Europe. 

 ·         Definition of movement: Considered one of the most influential art movement of the 20th Century; Cubism is a term broadly used in association with a wide variety of art created and produced in Paris.  The primary influence of this movement was the representation of the three- dimensional form in late works of Paul Cezanne. 

 ·         Characteristics defining movement: In Cubist artwork, objects are closely analyzed and broken up redefined in abstract forms; instead of depicting the object in one viewpoint, it is depicted from a multitude of viewpoint to represent the subject in a greater context. 

 ·         Movement was used in other areas, such as architecture, aside from just the fine arts: Cubism was also applied to sculptures, rooted in Paul Cezanne’s reduction of painted objects into component planes and geometric solids.  It was also widely applied to architecture France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Czechoslovakia. 

 ·         Artists (list 2 -3) known for their work in this movement: Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, and Henry Matisse. 




·         Dates the movement started and ended: Early 20th Century

·         Movement originated: Germany

 ·         Movement spread to or remained in area of origin: Expressionism spread from Germany and all throughout central and eastern Europe.  It also spread to Australia, Brazil, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, USA, United Kingdom, and South Africa.

 ·         Definition of movement: A modernist movement, Expressionism came solely from a Subjective perspective, and distorting it radically in order to make an emotional effect and evoke certain moods or ideas. 


·         Characteristics defining movement: Expressionist sought to express meaning or an Emotional experience rather than a physical reality.  A typical trait in this movement was the suggestive term of emotional angst, or sadness, anger, or just emphasize extreme emotions; having the capacity of causing the viewer to experience these extreme emotions with the drama and often horror in which the scenes depict.  Expressionism has been compared with Baroque, but according to Alberto Arbasino, the difference is that “Expressionism doesn’t shun the violently unpleasant effect, while Baroque does.  Expressionism throws some terrific f*** you’s. “

 ·         Movement was used in other areas, such as architecture, aside from just the fine arts: The Expressionist movement was spread throughout other types of cultures, including dance, sculpture, literature, music, theatre, architecture, and even cinema. 

 ·         Artists (list 2 -3) known for their work in this movement: The American poet, Walt Whitman and Norwegian painter, Edvard Munch. 




·         Dates the movement started and ended: Lasted for only a few years; from 1904 – 1908

      ·         Movement originated: France

      ·         Movement spread to or remained in area of origin: Fauvism started and most
               remained in France.

        ·         Definition of movement: Fauvism, French for “the wild beasts”,  its subject matter had a high degree of simplification and abstraction.  Fauvism can be classified as an extreme development of Van Gogh’s post-impressionism fused with the pointillism of Seurat.  Characterized with vivid colors, free treatment of form, and resulting in a vibrant and decorative effect. 

·         Characteristics defining movement: A vibrant and wildly colorful style of painting, developed by Henry Matisse.  Fauvism had two main characteristics; simplified drawing and exaggerated color.  Les Fauves (the nickname of painters who worked in the movement of Fauvism) believed that color should be used to express the artist’s feelings about the subject, rather than simply describing what it looks like. 

·         Movement was used in other areas, such as architecture, aside from just the fine arts: Fauvism was really only known and well used within the visual arts. 

·         Artists (list 2 -3) known for their work in this movement: Henry Matisse, Andre Derain, and
Alice Bailly.





·         Dates the movement started and ended: 1870’s – 1880’s

·         Movement originated: Paris, France

 ·         Movement spread to or remained in area of origin: Impressionism spread from Paris, to USA, Belgium, United Kingdom, Turkey, Hungary, Ireland, Russia, Poland, Germany, Egypt, Scotland, Brazil, Spain, Argentina, and Canada. 

·         Definition of movement: Impressionists constructed their paintings from freely brushed  colors that took precedence over lines and contours.  Paintings were mostly of realistic scenes Of modern life, and often painted outdoors. 

·         Characteristics defining movement: Impressionist painting characteristics included relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities; common, ordinary subject matter, inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles.

·         Movement was used in other areas, such as architecture, aside from just the fine arts: Impressionism was used in sculpture, photography, film, music, and literature.

·         Artists (list 2 -3) known for their work in this movement: Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Mary Cassatt.





·         Dates the movement started and ended: 1906 - 1989

·         Movement originated: I’m not quite sure where Modernism first originated from; many different countries and cultures represented their own modernism art, especially throughout Europe and USA.

 ·         Movement spread to or remained in area of origin: Modernism spread throughout central and Western Europe, as well as Russia, USA; in which it was a huge movement, United Kingdom Spain, Eastern Europe, Australia, Canada, and spread wildly throughout the world during World War I and II. 

 ·         Definition of movement: Modernism, in a broader definition, represents a modern thought, character or practice.  This term describes the modernist movement within the arts; it’s set of cultural tendencies and associated cultural movements, originally arising from a wide-scale and far-reaching changes throughout Western society in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

 ·         Characteristics defining movement: Modernism explicitly rejects the ideology of realism, and makes use of the works in the past through the application of reprise, incorporation, rewriting, revision, and parody in new forms; along with rejecting the idea of Enlightenment thinking, As well as the certainty of a compassionate, all-powerful Creator.

 ·         Movement was used in other areas, such as architecture, aside from just the fine arts: It was very big in literature as well as within multi-media, pop art, magazines, propaganda, architecture, furniture, and cultural ideas.

 ·         Artists (list 2 -3) known for their work in this movement: Salvador Dali, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Samuel Beckett. 



Pop Art

·         Dates the movement started and ended: 1950’s – Present day

·         Movement originated: Great Britain and USA

·         Movement spread to or remained in area of origin: It was huge in these two areas of the
              World, although it did spread out to countries such as Spain, Japan, Italy,   Belgium, Russia United Kingdom, and the Netherlands

·         Definition of movement: Emerging from the mid-1950’s, Pop Art was an art movement that presented a challenge to traditional fine art by including imagery from popular culture from the time, such as advertising, news, and other medias.  In Pop Art, materials often removed from its known context, and isolated and/or combined with other, unrelated materials. 

·         Characteristics defining movement: Employing aspects of mass culture, Pop Art uses
Its materials from advertising, comic books, multi-media sources, and other mundane cultural objects and ideas.  It is widely interpreted as the reaction to the wide ideas of abstract expressionism, as well as an expansion upon them.  It is aimed at popular images in which to employ, rather than the elitist culture in art; most often through the use of irony.

·         Movement was used in other areas, such as architecture, aside from just the fine arts: Pop Art was, and still is, widely used in advertising and modern cultural ideas, as well as in paintings, sculptures, architecture and furniture, multi-media, media icons, and graffiti. 

·         Artists (list 2 -3) known for their work in this movement: Andy Warhol, Eduardo Paolozzi, And Kiki Kogelnik.





 Post – Impressionism:

·         Dates the movement started and ended: 1880 – 19th Century

·         Movement originated: France

·         Movement spread to or remained in area of origin: beginning in France by the famous artist Manet, and spreading to Great Britain; this movement mainly stayed within Western and Central Europe. 

·         Definition of movement: Post-impressionists were extending impressionism, while rejecting its limitations.  They continued to use bright, vivid colors, thick application of paint,
Distinctive brush strokes and real-life subject matter.  They also emphasized geometric forms, Distorting forms for expressive effect, and used unnatural or arbitrary colors. 

·         Characteristics defining movement: A known characteristic of Post-impressionism was to reduce objects to their basic forms while retaining the bright, fresh colors of Impressionism.  Another defining characteristic was to use color in vibrant, swirling brush strokes to convey the artist’s feelings and state of mind. 

·         Movement was used in other areas, such as architecture, aside from just the fine arts: Post-Impressionism was mainly applied to paintings and fine arts, but was used within architecture, Sculptures and literature. 

·         Artists (list 2 -3) known for their work in this movement: Vincent Van Gogh, Manet, and Georges Seurat. 




·         Dates the movement started and ended: 1920’s and onward

·         Movement originated: Paris, France

·         Movement spread to or remained in area of origin: The most important center of the
Of the movement started in Paris, but soon spread far throughout the rest of the world.

·         Definition of movement: A cultural movement that started in the 1920’s, Surrealism features the element of surprise and unexpected juxtapositions.  Surrealist artists define their work as an expression of a philosophical movement, and above all, surrealist artists were explicit in the assertion that Surrealism was an important revolutionary movement. 

·         Characteristics defining movement: Surrealism is defined by its proposal to express, either
Verbally, in writing, or in any other manner, the real functioning of a thought.  Surrealism is based upon the belief that in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected Associations, in the disinterested train of thought.  Surrealist artists believed that it would Advocate the idea that ordinary and depictive expressions are very vital and important, but in which the sense of their arrangement must be opened to the full range of imagination, According to the Hegelian Dialectic.

·         Movement was used in other areas, such as architecture, aside from just the fine arts:

·         Surrealism was a huge movement that spread far throughout other aspects of art, such as in Literature, music, theatre, cinema and films, sculptures, politics, cultural ideas, comedy, and an Interesting part played within the Feminist movement. 

·         Artists (list 2 -3) known for their work in this movement: Dorothea Tanning, Salvador Dali, And Rene Magritte. 






·         Dates the movement started and ended: Late 19th Century

·         Movement originated: This movement originated in France, Russia, and Belgium.

·         Movement spread to or remained in area of origin: Symbolism remained mostly in Europe,
Such as in Switzerland, Poland, Germany, Austria, Norway, Finland, Scotland, and Lithuania.  But it also spread countries such as the USA, Brazil, and Israel. 

·         Definition of movement: Symbolism was mostly a large reaction to naturalism and realism; Anti-idealistic artistic styles that were attempts to represent reality in its true, gritty form.  Symbolism was created in favor of spirituality, imagination, and dreams. 

·         Characteristics defining movement: Characteristics of the subject were to represent naturalist interest in sexuality and other taboo topics.  Symbolists believed their art should be represented in absolute truths, that could only be described indirectly. 

·         Movement was used in other areas, such as architecture, aside from just the fine arts: Symbolism was strongly rooted in literature and poetry; as well as in visual arts, the movement was also involved in music, theatre, and philosophy. 

·         Artists (list 2 -3) known for their work in this movement: Odilon Redon, Edvard Munch, and Ferdinand Khnopff.





Abstract: Thought of apart from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances.


Asymmetry: Lack of symmetry in spatial arrangements or in mathematical or logical relations.


Balance: A state of equilibrium; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.


Collage: A technique of composing art by pasting on a surface of various materials not normally associated with each other. 


Composition: The act of combining parts or elements to form a whole.


Design: To prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans for a work to be executed; especially to plan the form and structure of.  


Form: External appearance of a clearly defined area, as distinguished from color or material; configuration.


Function: Then kind of action or activity proper to a person, thing, or institution; the purpose for which something is designed or exists.


Genre: a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like.


Gesture drawing: A work of art defined by rapid execution. 


Line: A mark or stroke long to in proportion to its breadth, made with a pencil, pen, tool, etc.


Media: Materials and techniques used by an artist to produce a work. 


Mixed media: Artistic media, as pen and ink, chalk, and graphite, used in combination.


Motif: A recurring subject, theme, idea, etc. Especially in a literary, artistic, or musical work.


Movement: The act, process, or result of moving; a particular style or manner of moving.


Multimedia: The combined use of several medias, as sound full-motion video in computer applications.


Pattern: a decorative design, as for wallpaper, china, or textile fabrics, etc. a natural or chance marking, configuration, or design.


Performance art: A collaborative art form in a fusion of several artistic media, such as painting, film, video, music and dance; deriving in part of the 1960’s performance happenings.


Portfolio: a flat, portable case for carrying loose papers, drawings, etc. or something of the like.


Rhythm: movement or procedure with uniform or patterned recurrence of a beat, accent, etc. the pattern of regular or irregular pulses caused in music by the occurrence of strong and weak melodic and harmonic beats.


Shape: the quality of a distinct object or body in having an external surface or outline of specific form or figure.


Space: the unlimited or incalculably great three-dimensional realm or expanse in which all material objects are located and all events occur.


Still life: the category of subject matter in which inanimate objects are represented, as in painting or photography.


Structure: mode of building, construction, or organization; arrangement of parts, elements, or constituents.


Style: a particular kind, sort, or type, as with reference to form, appearance, or character; distinctive, or characteristic mode of action or manner of acting.


Texture: the characteristic physical structure given to a material, an object, etc., by the size, shape, arrangement, and proportions of its parts; the visual and especially tactile quality of a surface.


Theme: a subject of discourse, discussion, meditation, or composition; topic; a unifying or dominant idea, motif, etc., as in a work of art.


Unity: the state of being one; oneness; the state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification.