After Modernism

Freedom of expression

Today was my first lecture on After Modernism where we discussed a variety of artists, their work and the meaning behind the images and techniques. The first image was of Jackson Pollock’s work, a portrait of V.I, Lenin in a cap, 1980. We were asked what we could see in the image and at first is wasn’t very clear. We were then shown another image of the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Llyich Lenin and instantly you could see his face being unravelled from the Pollock painting.

We then moved on to discussing the politics behind the Petrov, ‘The first Woman Uzbek tractor Driver’, 1955. It is a picture of two working women and it is obvious that the image is empowering the females. However when you look deeper into the image you understand that it could also be a form of Russian propaganda. The land that the women are working on belongs to the state and therefore the women aren’t as free as they seem in the painting. We then compared this image to another Pollock painting, ‘Autumn Rhythm’ 1950. The Pollock painting definitely breaks all conventions and rules of the traditional painting. The Pollock painting has the freedom of expression in his paintings compared the Petrov painting which is rather traditional and obeying  the rules of society.  When you put both images together you see that both are forms of propaganda for different countries. The paintings are created in this way so that the difference between American propaganda (Pollock’s painting) and the Russian propaganda (Petrov) is visually obvious.

This then links in with Abstract Expressionism where  painters have to show the countries claim to cultural leadership. The artwork is also used as weapon of war, for example spy agencies used artists such as Pollock in the Cold War.


Cubism is the fragmentation of forms and politics. The best example of cubism is Picasso’s painting of Guernica 1937. The painting was a political statement about Spain’s conditions after the Spanish Civil War. The painting travelled the world and engages with the outside world. Cubism paintings can also be seen as symbolic.

Line & Plane – Picasso, Two seated Women 138. What is special about this painting is that Picasso has used different lines and shapes to create an image that you have to take time to work out where the figures stand. It’s a game between the artist and the viewer.

Flatness & volume Picasso, La Femme Fleur, 1946. To be able to work out these paintings you have to forget everything you know about light and dark, and read light for dark instead. There is also the idea that the artist might not follow bodily forms, for example in the La Femme Fleur image by Picasso the grid pays no attention to the baby’s form.


Mason, Automatic Drawing 1924.

Automatism – Similar to automatic writing, you let your hands create a piece without realising and focusing on what you’re drawing.

Biden Imagery Masson, The Kill 1844. When one image has multiple meanings.

Desire– Masson, Pasiphae 1937. When an image has a deep, personal meaning and sometimes includes male sexual violence and authentic expression.

Fluxus art

Fluxus art was usually created by musicians, poets or any other individuals that didn’t agree with conventional art. It can be created in many different ways, it can sometimes be a short film of moving images with a distorted and annoying sound. The art eventually becomes boring and irritating and you start to notice the other things around you, therefore it is an interactive way of showing the relationship between artwork and life. In a sense Fluxus art can be metaphorical, showing how there’s no life beyond the TV screen only more television. Another example of Fluxus art was in performing, where a group would be given a script to perform certain actions. The purpose behind the actions is to prove how the art work itself is not important.


Minimalism was first developed in the USA as an extreme form of abstract art. The artwork was formed by simple geometric shapes such as squares and rectangles. They usually represent a feeling, expression or an aspect of the real world. When you look at a piece of minimalist work, you are drawn to whats in front of you can’t see any connection to the outside world within them.



Conceptual art focuses more on the idea behind creating the work, than the final outcome. This type of art can look or be anything, Conceptual artists focus more on what type of materials will be most effective to communicate their ideas. Some conceptualist’s take to performing or poetry.

Essay Questions

For my constellation essay I have decided to take the first question, “How did the notion of what painting is change during the sixties?”and modify it to my own course. Instead of discussing how painting changed I am going to discuss how Graphic Design and typography changed in that era. I have decided to do some research into what type of things I could discuss within the text. I am also going to use my notes from the ‘Purple Haze –  Channelling Art Nouveau within 60’s Psychedelia’ Keynote session.

My question : How did the notion of what Graphic Design and Typography is change during the sixties?







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s