Delving into "Improvisation No. 28"
The early 20th century brought with it many social, political and technological changes. The world was changing and as a result the artists and artworks of the time changed with it. This was especially true of Germany, where an expanding empire, rapid industrialization and prewar anxieties manifested in several unique artistic movements which are often categorized under the larger umbrella known as German Expressionism. One artist working during this time was Wassily Kandinsky, whose non-figurative work pushed the boundaries of form. In his 1912 painting, Improvisation No. 28, Kandinsky sought to express both his own philosophy and to engage whomever might view his work.
Kandinsky was a founding member of the Der Blaue Reiter Group along with Franz Marc and Gabriele Münter. An offshoot of the German Expressionist movement, the Der Blaue Reiter Group looked to the prewar society prior to World War I in Germany and saw it lacking. The rise of industrialization and growing urbanization cultivated a sense of alienation in the members of the Der Blaue Reiter Group, who sought to alleviate their isolation through the expressive power of their art. Works like Kandinsky's Improvisation No. 28 worked to convey this underlying philosophy of the Der Blauer Reiter, turning away from the industrialization of the age and instead focusing their attention upon the organic, innate ability of an artist to disclose their own personal expression.
Vibrant and graphic, Henri Matisse's Portrait of Madame Matisse (The Green Stripe) built upon the previous work of the Impressionists and Post- Impressionists and helped articulate the voice of a new movement, Fauvism. Spanning only a short time, Fauvism was an artistic movement in France from 1904 to 1908 that was marked by its bold and expressive use of color and simplification of shape. Painted in 1905, near the height of this short lived movement, Portrait of Madame Matisse (The Green Stripe) serves to illustrate the main stylistic hallmarks of the Fauvist movement even as it works to divorce itself from the academic stylings of the past.
In 1936 Spanish artist Pablo Picasso was living and working in Paris, France when he was approached by the newly elected Republican government in Spain to create a mural for the next Paris Exposition Universelle, or World's Fair, scheduled for 1937. The timing of the commission coincided with the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in which a failed military coup, by the right leaning Nationalists, against that same government, the left leaning Republicans, devolved in a protracted and bloody conflict. The ensuing violence would come to heavily influence Picasso's handling of his commission- with the final result being a reactionary piece to the news of the bombings of the Spanish village Guernica, after which the painting is titled.
Danaïd by Rodin
Auguste Rodin, who lived from 1840-1917, was premiere sculptor of the 19th century. Largely credited as the founding father of modernist sculpture, his pieces tended be explorations of human emotion, form and physicality. No matter his subject matter, be it mythological, allegorical or portraiture, Rodin sought to capture the human condition. His piece Danaïd (1889) exemplifies many of these aspects through his use of naturalistic form, contrasting texture, and scale.
Crystal has a MA in the History of Art from Courtauld Institute of Art as well as a BFA in Art History from the Academy of Art University.