Visual Arts and Film Studies
Making Modern Art
For this assignment you will create an original and unique work of modern art and describe it. Read the full assignment then develop an original piece of art that will be explained and supported throughout each paragraph. Use the guiding questions below as a starting place, but be sure to develop your response beyond simple answers. Select the link at the bottom of the page and post an answer using the online text editor. As this assignment requires that you upload your art work, you can also write your answers offline and upload them with your artwork.
Paragraph 1: Your Art Work
Create your artwork and briefly describe it. The second paragraph will allow you to describe it in more depth. What idea(s) are you expressing in your artwork? This can be about anything; however, it does need to be supported by the criteria listed below. How will you express this idea artisitically? What medium are you using? As this assignment is about modernism, I would suggest that dance may be the easiest medium to use. First, most of the examples and criteria for modernism have been addressed through dance, so it may be easier to do work in a similar medium. Dance is also easy as you do not need anything else besides your own body (and a video camera to record). However, you may be more comfortable using another medium (painting, music, sculpture, etc.) to express your idea. All mediums are valid as long as you feel you can address the questions below.
Upload your assignment for viewing. There is a 20 MB maximum submission size. If you need to upload a video to Youtube or Vimeo, please paste a link in this first paragraph.
Paragraph 2: Defining Modernism
This next paragraph will explain how you address each of the defining characteristics of early modern dance/art. These characteristics of modernism are found at the beginning of the Resources 2.4 and 2.5, the two chapters of Dance, Modernity and Culture. Explain how your art work fits the criteria of modernism using the resources and comparisons to other artists.
•Primacy of Medium: The main principle of modernism is to uncover the nature of the medium and to work in terms of its specificity. For dance, that meant that movement was the significant means of communicating an idea, not to mimic or visualize music. Often music was created to accompany the modern dance rather than music coming first and dance responding to its melodies and harmonies. Other art forms also explored the nature of their mediums. Painting was no longer about photo-realism but about working with line and color on a two-dimensional surface. Which medium are you using? How does your art work show the “nature of the medium”? If its dance, you may want to think about something physical that sparks your imagination, like sports, then find what ideas develop from that. Compare or contrast your work to another modern artists and support your argument through the resources.
•Individualism: From Martha Graham’s psychological dramas to Pearl Primus’ social protests, modernism has shown a great diversity of themes, styles and intentions in artistic creation. Many of these artists have developed ideas based on their personal life history or through a desire to understand something better. How does your art work portray something unique about your personal background? Or is it something you wish to know more about? Compare or contrast your work to another modern artists and support your argument through the resources.
•Anti-authoritarianism: Modernism, in order to create a new art form and a particularly American art form, rejected established codes of art in favor of the development of individualistic metaphors. How does your art work reject expectations about art? What does it rebel against? How does it try to create its own world with its own rules? Compare or contrast your work to another modern artists and support your argument through the resources.
•Functionalism: Functionalism is the idea that art should mirror its own social environment and reflect and speak to the contemporary American experience. For American modern artists in particular, art should be stripped of decadence, indulgence and luxuary. It should present work stripped to its bare bones without frills much as the pionner lived with only the essentials. How does your art work speak about your contemporary American existence? How is it speak to the time and place in which you live? Does you art work convey your idea in the simplest way? Compare or contrast your work to another modern artists and support your argument through the resources.
How else does your art work meet the criteria of “modernism”?
Creating your Art
Grading of this assignment will be based primarily on your written response and completeness of assignment. If you decide to create a dance or work of music, know that a time limit or duration is not being imposed. Many of the works you have seen in this lesson are relatively short at only a couple of minutes in length. Consider how some of the early moderns created dannce through simple gestures and often using props. If you would like further help in developing dance, here are a few ideas from Doris Humphrey.
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