Lecture 4- additional notes.

These notes are based on the pages I have read in Warner Mariens book, relating to the new world in Europe.

  • The Russian revolution (1917) had a deep impact on artists and photographers in Russia at the time, in particular avant-garde.
  • Artists started to experiment with Cubism and Futurism.
  • Lissitzky was a committed political artist, who renounced self-expression in art, due to how he saw its representation of the past.
  • He insisted the artist had a critical role to play in reshaping everyday life.
  • The photomontage, became a huge part of art, it was seen as the in thing.
  • It mixed images and text from mass media sources, in order to showcase iconic representations for the masses. Klutsis was key to this, but felt that the artwork he produced should be understood by everyone.
  • Rodchenko was key to the new world, starting out as a sculptor and painter, he moved to the medium of photography, as he believed it freed him from insert aesthetic ideas, such as perspective.
  • He realised the importance that art could have on society, wishing to make it more practical and less theoretical.
  • He disliked the work of others who travelled to other countries stating “they photograph with museum eyes, the eyes of art history”.
  • His hope for new media was enhanced by German art and fashion magazines.
  • In 1923 Rodchenko gathered images from the press swell as from another photographer in order to make a photomontage for Maiakovskii’s poem “Pro Ito”, though the images were difficult to interpret.
  • The advent-garde in Russia, changed the way people saw, utilising odd angles, and multiple exposures, to “make strange” the appearance of the world.
  • Rodchenko was a major player in this, moving into pure photography, disposing the waist level view of most photographs.
  • During the time of the war in Zurich, Switzerland, the Dada movement formed. It wasn’t just one group of people, it spread through Europe, each with slightly different political views, but all with the notion of using art to create social statements.
  • The founders disliked the war, and envision the new art would express their feelings.
  • Christian Schad was part of the group in Zurich, he made schadographs, which were created from newspaper clippings and bits of paper.
  • Tristan Tzara the groups founder, called them this, perhaps not because they were used like shadowgraphs, a process used by Fox Talbot, but because the meaning for the German word Schaden was “damaged” which fitted Dada’s feelings of things falling apart.
  • Dadaists adopted the photomontage for much of their work, though they often photographed and printed the final work to create a more finished look.
  • Hannah Hoch was a well known Dadaist at the time, creating several photomontages. She often juxtaposed images of smartly dressed women, with women from more social roles in life, along with symbols of the modern era such as light bulbs.
  • Another artist Moholy-Nagy favoured the use of industrial materials, and concepts, much like the movement in Russia.
  • He concentrated of technology’s relationship to art, believing photography could create a new vision when prated for its own qualities, not as reproductions of paintings.
  • His theory was the mass production would make it possible for artists to change the perceptions of the world.
  • Photography’s key was light, with him believing that light and shade ought to be experimented with. He also messed around with perspectives in much the same way as Rodchenko.
  • Moholy-Nagy was invited to join the German art school Bauhaus. It didn’t include classes in photography until just before it was closed by the Nazis though Moholy-Nagys idea were a large influence on the school.
  • French Cubism was also a large movement at the time, artists such as Germaine Krull and Roseller were heavily influenced by the movement.
  • Jaromir Funke created abstract photos using glass negatives and mat board, before arranging them. His photographs were soft in focus to detach the images from ordinary reality.
  • Andre Bretton was a key figure in the Paris Dada movement, though he soon sought a  more constructive program, still based on the unconscious and irrational mind. This was the start of the surrealist movement.
  • Surrealism was a self-proclaimed movement. Its manifesto stated that the movement was based on the irrational and belief in a truth beyond realism.
  • Photography was central to the movement. Many surrealist pointed their cameras haphazardly, whilst others such as Man Rays experiments with the photogram where more purposeful.
  • Most surrealist photography alluded to innuendos, and psychological imitations.
  • Man ray and Ubac created solarized prints, with the help of assistants Berenice Abbot and Lee Miller.
  • It was Abbot who studied with Aget. Get resisted the surrealist style, calling his photographs documents. Many found his work more in the style of surrealism, pushing him forward as the voice of the movement.

 

America

  • Advanced technological image-making came to be associated with corporate propaganda.
  • Advertising photography had ties with both Pictorialist and the european experimental art and photography.
  • Pictorialist photography was still at large when the group f/64 formed.
  • The group completely dismissed pictorial photography, despite many of the members having previously been involved in the movement.
  • The name was given in regards to to the small aperture used on their large format cameras, which allowed for the greatest depth of field they could attain.
  • The modernist work of Moholy-Nagy was known as pure photography.
  • The groups founder was Williard Van Dyke, who famously photographed a cement works in a way that showed it off as a “cubist apparition”, during the depression.
  • He believed that artists should contribute directly to the recovery of the nations economy.
  • Another infamous member was Imogen Cunningham. One of her early works depicted Adam and Eve, which was seen controversially.
  • After meeting Edward Weston another member of the group she shifted her style  towards straight photography, making photographs of female nude studies and plants, the later which where compared to the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe.
  • Ansel Adams and Edward Weston both shared a regard for natural forms. Both were well established photographers before going the group, with Adams documenting Yosemite national park and creating the Zone system. He also documented the camp Manzanar relocation centre, a place where Japanese americans where sent after the Pearl Harbour attacks. Although allowed access, he wasn’t allowed to show the guards, or barbed wire that was present.
  • Weston focused heavily on form making photographs of a toilet (Excusado), and objects such as fruit. Though they sound boring the way he has photographed them, cause the mind to see other things with in them, by using, light, shade and texture.
  • Weston is remembered as the photographer who put modern art and photography on the american cultural radar.

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