Monday, March 22

kirchner, potsdamer platz


Hans said...

good: makes your eyes look all over, unique, motion
bad: it makes me nervous

Metamatician said...

I agree on both counts. I rather think the northern european expressionism movement of the very early 20th centuries, when tensions between the traditional powers ran high, the industrial revolution seemed to be leading to the growth of cities, high population densities, and squalor, wondering many people what "progress" really meant (a question that hasn't gone away, of course), and the changing attitudes in society about class, freedoms and rights, machine automation, the rise of spooky non-deterministic science, the ebbing of the power of the church (in Europe particularly) and the wholesale shakeup of many traditions whose foundations had seemed so solid just a couple of generations earlier, provoked a kind of angst that pervaded the generation just before WW1 and indeed carried into that horrible war, culminating in poetry with the "War Poets" and giving a rather bleak beginning to the new century.

In the arts, you had Van Gogh, Munch, Kirchoff (shown here), and others who tried to get this feeling of disorientation and alienation out on canvas. I've already mentioned poetry, and some of the literature from this period is unusually stark and realistic, completely rejecting any sort of romance or escapism that had characterized much of that art form for several hundred years. Journalism became a sort of art form in itself, with people like Hemmingway and Churchill and Orwell and London trying their hands at "real adventure" writing (often in the thick of violent conflicts like the Boer Wars) before settling into their later careers. And of course the rise of Nihilist, Existentialism, and the atheism woven into most strains of Communism, caused many to (IMO) lose heart and lose any idea of what life was "about".

Since I still feel this way a lot of the time, I still identify with these works of 100 years ago. They resonate with me more strongly than do most of the art movements which followed, all the way up to post-modern art, which is really anything you want it to be, so long as it is not directly expressive, but ironic in tone.

I still do appreciate naturalistic art, color fields, and minimalism; black and white photography, and lots of other movements that are not in the mainstream (wherever that is) but toe the line artfully between real expression and just a bit of abstraction.

And some of my influences in other media come from much later in the 20th century; in music, it begins largely with the 60s and builds into the 80s, then begins to lessen to the present day; I can appreciate Egon Shiele or David Bowie doing Shiele or even Klaus Nomi doing Bowie doing... and it never seems derivative; just a recognition of a good idea. I also find meaning extremely beautiful and extremely disturbing music alike, if it's done with intelligence and says something. In visual art I identify with work that conjures strong feelings in me, whatever they may be. I have no place in my life for perfection or for complete deconstruction or for anything if it does not grip me emotionally. Art to me cannot be all in the mind. It must involve the heart.

billybytedoc said...

There should be a train station in the background!

Metamatician said...

True, there is one there in real life!

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