CreditsDirector: Anthony Roland Narration: Anthony Bertram Original music: Adrian Wagner:
Catalog number # 553
26 minutes Color
Age Range: 12 to Adult
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Picasso expressed Hitler's war through the cruel hideousness of his animals and men. The sculptor, Henry Moore, drew the underground shelters. Graham Sutherland painted the tormented cities and the agony of thorns; and Francis Bacon, the figures for the base of a Crucifixion. After the war, Picasso gradually moved into a lighter world; and Matisse continued his distinguished and customary way until his death.
In the nineteen fifties and sixties, there was great confusion, not yet sorted out or assessed. The term Abstract Expressionism, had arrived and was at first intelligible. It included Action Painting as by Jackson Pollock, splashing and dripping paint in the expectation that the Unconscious would produce the work of art, and the similar but more subtle and delicate work of Rothko. This inaugurated the international acceptance of American leadership. Many painters were more or less followers but some did not accept Action Painting, and others were too geometric to be called Expressionists.
In the meantime, figurative painting continued but on a smaller scale as with Francis Bacon and others. In the mid-fifties, Pop art appeared with the painters' claim that it made no distinction between good and bad taste and accepted the culture it hated. It operated in several media at the same time. Two media are used in painted reliefs. This goes back to remote times, and its revival at this time is distinguished by being mostly abstract. Kinetic art, ancient in the dance, is a novelty in painting and sculpture and metal constructions
It began with Alexander Calder in 1927, and flourished in the sixties. His works and those of his followers' did actually move; but other artists produced only the optical illusion of movement. Not us, but posterity, must judge all the arts of today.
Painters who occasionally sculpted and sculptors who related to certain movements have already been seen. Now to see work of detached sculptors. First Maillol, the finest traditional master of this century, and other excellent traditionalists. Perhaps Brancusi can be called the father of modern sculpture, a Romanian of peasant stock who settled in Paris. His apparently abstract work is in fact his concept of the universal creature, a fish, or whatever else he contemplated.
Some sculptors were attached to movements not illustrated among painters. Futurism, for instance, violently dynamic and iconoclastic: and Dada in America and Zurich, rejecting the past wholesale, and, more importantly, Constructivism founded in 1915 by a Russian, Naum Gabo, who was inspired by Einstein's theories of space and time. For him, space was a new sculptural element, as important as the solids. He was also a pioneer in the use of varied materials, oxidized copper, nickel silver, Plexiglas, chromium and so on. Meanwhile, Julio Gonzales was working in welded iron, a technique that has been extensively developed. On the other hand, Giacometti created entirely original figures, attenuated and elusive, in traditional bronze, the material of many other modern sculptors.
In the early twenties, sculpture in Britain entered into its greatest period since the middle ages, ranging from the figurative art of Epstein to the pure and lofty work of Barbara Hepworth and the experiments of the younger generation. And there is Henry Moore, son of a miner, and now perhaps accepted internationally as the greatest living sculptor. He gathered his sources from the works of primitive man and ancient civilizations, from Michelangelo and Cubism and Surrealism and much more. He saw the primeval rocks and hills in his reclining nudes, and enduring humanity in the mother and child and in the recognition of space, the cavern and the holes that light it, and from all this richness of fundamental sources he has created an art of the present.
Modern architecture, more consistent, more disciplined than painting or sculpture, has had an almost continuous development from the pioneers. First, the American, Frank Lloyd Wright. He built this administrative office in 1904.His last work was the Guggenheim Museum in New York, finished in 1959, the date of his death. Le Corbusier, a Swiss who worked mostly in France, a strict, straight-line functionist until he built his world-famous church at Ronchamp. Mies van der Rohe, a German who later settled in the United States, a consistently pure master of the straight line and of functionalism -exquisite in proportions and finish.
Finally, Alvar Aalto, a Finn who also works in the United States, no lover of the machine world, but humanitarian and concerned with natural environment. Comparatively few people accepted modern architecture before Hitler's war but afterwards, it was increasingly recognized throughout the world as the expected international style. It is better now to grasp the characteristics of individual buildings, their types and functions, buildings to work and shop in; for travel and a hotel and buildings to live in; and churches; buildings for education, sport and amusement, and exhibitions - very experimental places -luckily, because there is a danger that mechanized monotony may so appall people that they may repudiate all modern architecture and revert to sterile revivalism.
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