Chris Rodrigues

Introducing Modernism

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    His utopian designs for the future have now become associated with a discredited modernist dream, our contemporary urban dystopia.
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    Le Corbusier (1887–1965). His concept of the house as “a machine to live in”
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    The city could also function as utopian map.
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    THE CITY IS ABOUT AN ATTITUDE TO MODERN LIFE, A STATE OF MIND.
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    For Benjamin, the lure and fascination of modern city life lay in its surface narratives, the ephemeral, the fugitive, the new.
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    These developments gave birth to industrialized mass societies hungry for every form of consumer item, fashion and entertainment.
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    Modernity and modernism are centrally located in urban culture and the great capital cities – Paris (3 million), London (5 million), Berlin (2 million) and New York (5 million).
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    Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) made the parallels clear in “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936).
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    Even films made in the commercial “dream factory” of Hollywood often have a surreal edge.
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    “all the modernist arts aspire towards the condition of advertising”.
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    to explore not only their own dreams but also the collective dreams and myths of society, transgressing the surface of reality to discover authentic latent meanings.
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    “deep” link to feelings and ideas. These are contained in the cluster of concepts around “primitivism” and the irrational.
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    WE POSE NOT ONLY THE QUESTION, “WHAT DO WE SEE THAT IS DIFFERENT?”
    BUT MORE INTERESTINGLY, “HOW DO WE SEE DIFFERENTLY?”
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    Such isms – indeed modernism itself – provide clues to the “spirit of the age’’, the Zeitgeist as it’s often called. Modernism expresses the new energies sweeping through from the late 19th century onwards – the revolutionary potentials opened up by Marx, Freud, Nietzsche and others
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    You need to work on the material – the words, the shapes – in order to gain the beginnings of an understanding.
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    its meanings are only revealed to us as we bring other forms of reading and interpretations and references to bear on it. You can proceed to “read’’ the painting in sophisticated and meaningful ways, depending on your familiarity with art historical and cultural contexts and discourses.
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    “Picasso studies an object the way a surgeon dissects a corpse”.
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    the most innovative painting since Giotto … it established a new pictorial syntax; it enabled people to perceive things with new eyes, new minds, new awareness. ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ is the first unequivocally 20th century masterpiece, a principal detonator of the modern movement, the cornerstone of 20th century art.”
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    Salmon’s last sentence sums up the move to abstraction which was to be a dominant feature of modernist painting.
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    proclaimed itself, it exuded a confidence in its newness and radicality.
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