viernes, 28 de marzo de 2008

Architecture and Avant-garde

The 20th century bore witness to the creation of the avant-garde movements. Even when these developed mainly in plastic arts, some of them had an influence in architecture, as is the case of De Stijl or Neoplasticism and the Russian Constructivism. Both movements were contemporary of the other big artistic movement of the time, the Bauhaus.
Largely associated with three important figures -- the painters Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg, and the architect and furniture-maker Gerrit Rietveld -- De Stijl (or “the style”) was perhaps first developed in Mondrian’s post-Cubist paintings, which consist largely of broken horizontal and vertical lines. These works evolved into more spare geometric compositions of orthogonal elements, which are rendered in primary colors set against a white field. In 1917, Rietveld created the canonical “Red/Blue Chair” and projected the Neo-Plastic aesthetic into three dimensions. Van Doesburg taught, for a time, at the Bauhaus, enabling him to widen the De Stijl circle to artists as the Russian El Lissitzky under whose influence, Van Doesberg began “to project, as axonometric drawings, a series of hypothetical architectural constructs, each comprising an asymmetrical cluster of articulated planar elements suspended in space about a volumetric center.”
The characteristics of this architecture were established by van Doesburg: the form does not imitate any other style; especial attention is given to plastic elements, in addition to function, mass, surface, time, space, light, colour and material; it is an economic and functional architecture; it does not have any form following fixed styles and the building is not monumental, but a form open to the space through windows; the ground-plan is essential but in this the walls are not closed even if they support punctually the building; it is an open architecture in which space and time are considered; it is anti-cubic and surfaces follow a centrifugal trend at the same time that symmetry and repetition are eliminated; there is not a clear front in the building and colour is included as a plastic value but, in general, it is a non decorate architecture that aims to be a synthesis of the Neo-Plasticism
The universalizing tendency of the De Stijl soon gave way to the broader, more objective concerns of the Modern movement. For example, while Rietveld’s famous Schroder House of 1924 in Utrecht -- with movable walls and partitions assuring a dynamic, as opposed to static, sense of space -- exemplified the Neo-Plastic ideal of objects floating in space, he began to embrace a more technical architectural position. The project of De Stijl became, through necessity and evolution, a broader trajectory dedicated to social concerns and conditions. The desire to create architecture for the people through means of production, rather than an architecture simply guided by aesthetic concerns, became a rallying cry of a broader European Modernism.

Russian Constructivism was a movement that was active from 1913 to the 1940s. It was a movement created by the Russian avant-garde, but quickly spread to the rest of the continent. Constructivist art is committed to complete abstraction with a devotion to modernity, where themes are often geometric, experimental and rarely emotional. Objective forms carrying universal meaning were far more suitable to the movement than subjective or individualistic forms. Constructivist themes are also quite minimal, where the artwork is broken down to its most basic elements. New media was often used in the creation of works, which helped to create a style of art that was orderly. An art of order was desirable at the time because it was just after WWI that the movement arose, which suggested a need for understanding, unity and peace. Famous artists of the Constructivist movement include Vladimir Tatlin, Kasimir Malevich, Alexandra Exter, Robert Adams, and El Lissitzky.
Tatlin's most famous piece remains his "Monument to the Third International" (1919-20, Moscow), a 22-ft-high (6.7-m) iron frame on which rested a revolving cylinder, cube, and cone, all made of glass which was originally designed for massive scale. After the 1917 Revolution, Tatlin (considered the father of Russian Constructivism) worked for the new Soviet Education Commissariate which used artists and art to educate the public. During this period, he developed an officially authorized art form which utilized 'real materials in real space'. His project for a Monument of the Third International marked his first foray into architecture and became a symbol for Russian avant-garde architecture and International Modernism.

miércoles, 26 de marzo de 2008


It was founded by Walter Gropius in Germany as an experimental pedagogic centre in which they aimed at uniting architecture and design. It started its decadence in the 30s but it was highly influential in other countries to which its members emigrated.

Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architectured modern design. The Bauhaus had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design and typography.
The school existed in three German cities (Weimar from 1919 to 1925, Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and Berlin from 1932 to 1933), under three different architect-directors: Gropius from 1919 to 1927, Meyer from 1927 to 1930 and Mies van der Rohe from 1930 to 1933, when the school was closed by the Nazi regime. The changes of venue and leadership resulted in a constant shifting of focus, technique, instructors, and politics.

The foundation of Bauhaus occurred at a time of political and cultural upheaval in Germany. Defeat in World War I, the fall of the Germany monarchy and the abolition of censorship under the new, liberal Weimar Republic allowed an upsurge of radical experimentation in all the arts, previously suppressed by the old regime. Many Germans of left-wing views were influenced by the cultural experimentation that followed the Russian Revolution, such as constructivism. Such influences can be overstated: Gropius himself did not share these radical views, and said that Bauhaus was entirely unpolitical. Just as important was the influence of the 19th century English designer William Morris, who had argued that art should meet the needs of society and that there should be no distinction between form and function.. Thus the Bauhaus style, also known as the International Style, was marked by the absence of ornamentation and by harmony between the function of an object or a building and its design.

The most important influence on Bauhaus was however modernism, a cultural movement whose origins lay as far back as the 1880s, and which had already made its presence felt in Germany before the World War, despite the prevailing conservatism. The design innovations commonly associated with Gropius and the Bauhaus - the radically simplified forms, the rationality and functionality, and the idea that mass-production was reconcilable with the individual artistic spirit - were already partly developed in Germany before the Bauhaus was founded.
Gropious designed the Bauhaus building at Dessau, the most emblematic construction of the movement.The first important work made by Gropius was the Fagus factory in 1911. It was conceit as a beautiful combination of iron and glass, but its main work is the Bauhaus building in which teachers and students collaborated. The plan of the Bauhaus building is formed by three sections that expand freely and multiply the points of view. The walls are of concrete and glass.
There are a number of characteristics to the Bauhaus/International Style of architecture: 1) It shuns ornamentation and favours functionality 2) Uses asymmetry and regularity versus symmetry 3) It grasps architecture in terms of space versus mass.

Bauhaus architecture was concerned with the social aspects of design and with the creation of a new form of social housing for workers. This may be just another one of the reasons it was embraced in the newly evolving cities, at a time when socialist ideas were so prevalent. This style of architecture came about (in part) because of new engineering developments that allowed the walls to be built around steel or iron frames. This meant that walls no longer had to support the structure, but only enveloped it – from the outside.

Perhaps no trend within Modern architecture so neatly captures the imagination as the almost mythic status of the Bauhaus. Emerging in Dessau, Germany, during the shocking aftermath of World War I, the famed institution was conceived as a reformation of applied arts education. The principle was simple: to reject the salon arts of the haute-bourgeoisie in favour of a craft tradition in order to erase the class distinctions between artist and craftsman. Yet this was not a rejection of the modernizing impulses of the rapidly industrializing, urbanizing German state (one that was facing an increasingly dire socio-economic predicament). Instead, as developed by Bauhaus director Walter Gropius, the applied arts were to be taught in a workshop-based design education, with a reconciliation of craft design and industrial production.
Under the tutelage of pioneering Modernists, including Lázló Moholy-Nagy, Marcel Breuer, and Theo Van Doesberg, the Bauhaus students produced work inspired by a stripped-down, functional aesthetic, one obviously influenced by Russian Constructivism. Their approach rejected the classical notion of composition through contrasting materials and forms -- instead, it sought to bring out aesthetic properties inherent in the materials themselves, as revealed through their disjunction and arrangement in space. Indeed, from Herbert Bayer’s sans-serif typography to Gropius’s seminal Bauhaus building of 1926, there emerged an objective sensibility that championed elements devoid of ornamentation and excessive detail. The objective approach led to an embrace of a serialized industrial production process that was applied to any variety of craft making, from the assembly of chairs to the weaving of tapestries.

lunes, 24 de marzo de 2008

Modernism, Art Nouveau, Modern Style

19th century architecture moved inside a deep contradiction: all the movements aimed at finding their own architectonical language, appropriate for the time but, at the same time, with the best building techniques according to the new times. In this context Modernism was born.

Modernism is an attempt to finding a modern style, accurate for a new century everybody was waiting for enthusiastically. They wanted it to have not links with the past and based on the new material. This style was not only international, but it also expanded to all the art and design spheres, creating a decorative environment, controlled by the architects. It covered from the houses to the metro stations, from furniture to interior decoration, even the clothes of the proprietors. This style received different names depending on the region: Modernism in Spain, Art Nouveau in France, Modern Style in Britain, Jugendstil in Germany, Sezessionsstil in Austria.

In Britain the ugliness of the designs, the monotony of production in chain and the fear of alienation provoked a movement conducted by William Morris who tried to recover the quality of design and crafts production and Modernism was its direct heir. The same ideas expanded in other places of the continent.

Among the first manifestations of the style are the works of the Belgian Victor Horta, who applied the new conceptions in his Tassel House (1892). Here he developed a new concept of architecture based on the rational use of iron but without renouncing to treat it in an expressive and decorative way with cures and lineal rhythms very refined that gave to the columns, girders and handrails flower shape.

From Belgium, and thanks to the fast diffusion of printed press, it expanded all over Europe, finding in Catalonia one of the most important regions due to the enthusiastic baking of industrial bourgeoisie. There appeared one of the most important and original architects of the movement, Gaudí (1852-1926), whose architecture, highly plastic, almost sculptural, looks to be made of natural forms. Gaudi also realised the decoration of the buildings, trying to keep coherence between exterior and interior. Other architects of the period in Spain are Domènec I Montaner and Puig I Cadafalch. In Barcelona the Modernism reached to all the cultural aspects, with painters such as Rusiñol, Ramón Casas, Nonell.
The new style affected basically architecture and decorative arts, but it also influenced on all the others. Its theory expanded with the illustrated magazines, speeches, exhibitions that were useful to expand the knowledge of technical advances. In this way there were established the basis of the style to which each country added its own particularities. For instance, while in Belgium, France and Spain curves and flowers are essential elements of the style, in Britain, Scotland or Germany it is geometrical. In all the cases it was a reaction against the eclecticism and its inspiration was nature and symbolist painting.

In decorative arts it aimed at offering quality against the vulgarity of massive industrial production. In this aspect followed the British Arts and Crafts movement, fostered by William Morris. In the continent it was not against chain production, but it tried to link art and industry to offer beautiful products that could be bought by almost every body, even when the design in an artisan way made them inaccessible for a majority of the population, but very appropriate for the rich industrial and financial bourgeoisie.

In architecture they looked for flexibility of the line and sinuosity with decorative finality; they used coloured materials and moulding stone; bars, balconies and supports were made in forged iron. The new materials offered to the architect complete creative freedom. They assumed not only the structural and building process but also the decorative and furnishing, making of them real designers.

Interiors were organised as a surface of sinuous and sensual lines, with a naturalistic tendency. There were harmonic wholes created with freedom and fantasy. They looked for the pleasure of the integration of beauty and welfare. Nature was translated to the interior, making it flexible, instable and light.

Materials were of great variety: iron, mosaic, wood. Sinuous lines were elongated on walls and floors, in a kind of vegetal metaphor. The work is organic, extracted from nature; the use of flower elements with decorative purpose created an smart atmosphere. The main centres of production were France, Belgium, Germany and Austria. Among the authors we can mention Victor Horta, the pioneer, Van de Velde and Otto Wagner in Wien.

In Britain, In Glasgow, Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh also developed a rectilinear version of art nouveau, which he employed in numerous buildings and their furnishings. In the Glasgow School of Art, completed in two phases (eastern section 1897-1899, western section 1906-1909), he used contemporary materials in an elegant, angular style. The simple shapes of the brick and stone exterior clearly indicate the division of space within the building, while large expanses of glass provide a strong visual connection between the interior spaces and the outside world. Window mullions (dividers between panes of glass), doors, and fences use ironwork in an elegant linear or geometric manner. This seemingly simple design offers a strong contrast to the ornate architecture based on past styles that was typical of the time.

In Belgium Art nouveau architecture, in Brussels, flourished in the work of Belgian designers Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde. As did Mackintosh in Glasgow, these Belgian designers sought to create a new style, free from the historical references of prevailing traditions. They utilized standard wrought iron and cast-iron technology, but employed it to create distinctly new forms. In the Hôtel Tassel in Brussels (1892-1893), Horta not only revealed the structural column that supports the second floor, but transformed its cast-iron form into a plantlike stem that terminates in a burst of intertwined tendrils as it connects with other structural elements.

In France designer Hector Guimard designed entrances for the Metro stations in Paris (1898-1901) using simple metal and glass forms decorated with curvilinear wrought iron. These are especially memorable examples of art nouveau's delightfully curving naturalistic forms.

Art nouveau took hold in a number of German-speaking cities, the most prominent of which were Munich, Darmstadt, and Weimar in Germany, and Vienna in Austria. Known as Jugendstil (German for “youth style”), art nouveau was promoted in Munich through periodicals such as Die Jugend (The Youth).

Stylistic trends in Vienna took a significantly different direction. Led by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, young artists and architects formed a group called the Wiener Sezession, or Vienna Secession, in protest against the entrenched conservatism of the art establishment in Vienna. As did their counterparts elsewhere in Europe, Secession designers rejected historical styles; but in Vienna they expressed this through an increasing simplification of form. Rather than embracing the writhing organic forms of Endell or Obrist in Munich, Viennese artists moved towards the restrained geometric designs exemplified by the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

miércoles, 19 de marzo de 2008

Contemporary Architecture: The New Materials

19th century architecture had its highest examples in greenhouses and exhibition pavilions, among them that of London of 1851, built by Paxton. The structures of iron and glass developed a taste that derived from the first Romanticism. They wanted to exalt the virtues of progress. The resistant elements of forged iron produced in series and of easy assemblage allowed to built higher buildings and to elongate the central naves in an almost unlimited way, with regular modules.

The Century of Industrialization

The 19th century bear witness to a new society and a new industrial culture and it needed an answer to the new needs. In this century different trends crossed, with a certain degree of confusion. The period is marked by the confrontation between the architectonic tradition and the new techniques, materials, and needs created by the Industrial Revolution. This provoked the apparition of the two styles that developed along the century: historicism and iron architecture.

The 19th Century Architecture

The use of new materials and new building techniques, adapted to new needs of the new society is characteristic of this moment. At the beginning Neo-Classical forms were common in the main European cities, in a bourgeois aim at remembering the glories and virtues of the Classical time. The Romanticism led the architects to revive the Gothic or Islamic forms. This style is known as Historicism or revival of different historical styles. Its development was deterrent for the evolution of the architecture and decorative arts. It was born in opposition to the official art of the academies and under the influence of the romanticism. It aimed at recovering the genuine roots of the nationalities, present during the medieval period, and to distance from the Italian influence.

The architects used the new building techniques allowed by the use of iron and other materials. It is a moment of high impulse for great public buildings, the renaissance of several old styles: Greek, Classical, Romanesque, Gothic, and the interest for exotic styles such as the Moorish, Hindi, and Chinese.

The Architecture of Iron and Glass

But the contemporary architecture really comes up with the needs due to the expansion of the cities that were created by the Industrial Revolution. The railway contributed to the city expanding out of its boundaries and spreading on the surroundings. This contributed to change the image of the cities and the countryside with the station, bridges, viaducts, which ended by becoming part and parcel of the landscape. This kind of building, essentially practical, adopted the new materials such as iron and glass that, with their infinite possibilities paved the way for the following architectonical revolution.

At the end of the 18th century the first structures in iron were created, a fact that underlined the importance of the engineer labour, collaborating or even substituting the architect.

The former function of the wall, which formerly sustained the building, was exerted by the iron structure. Glass, industrially elaborated, allowed increasing the light of the building because it can cover enormous spaces eliminating walls in the new constructions, solving in this way the problem of the lightening of interiors, at the same time that electricity allowed the creation of buildings of great height doted with elevators and solved problems of ventilation. The internal and external communications of the building was possible thanks to these new materials.

The new building techniques and the pre-elaborated elements made in series allowed the massive construction of public buildings: galleries, greenhouse-train stations, libraries, markets; and private buildings: stores, factories. The constructive monopoly of Church, aristocracy and Crown was broken. As a result, free, lighten and functional spaces were designed, perfectly adapted to the needs of the industrial society.

All these possibilities were observed in the Crystal Palace designed by Paxton for the London Universal Exhibition of 1851. This was an enormous building that was built in a record time and at good price because it used pre-fabricated elements. It was essentially a gigantic greenhouse that allowed the creation of a wide and clear space perfectly adapted to its purpose.

Other building built with the same materials was the Eiffel Tower, designed by Eiffel for the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1889. Similar to Paxton project is that of the Crystal Palace of the Madrid Retiro Park, work of Velázquez Bosco. These new materials were also used in the Atocha station in Madrid.

viernes, 14 de marzo de 2008

Chicago School

At the turn of the 20th centuy it appeared in Chicago a group of architects who developed an architectonical style that is known as the Chicago School or Commercial style. They promoted new technologies of steel-frame construction and developed a spatial aesthetic that became very influential. It is contemporary of the European Modernism.

Some of the distinguish features of the Chicago School are the use of steel-frame buildings with masonry cladding (terra cotta), allowing large plate-glass window areas and the use of limited amounts of exterior ornament. Sometimes they used elements of neoclassical architecture for their skyscrapers. In many of them classical columns can be found. The scheme of the buildings is normally: a first floor functions as the base, middle storeis with little ornamental detail, that act as the shaft of the column, and the last floor that represent the capital, with more ornamental detail and ended with a cornice.

The Chicago window is a creation of this school. It is a three-part window consisting of a large fixed centre panel flanked by two smaller double-hung sash windows. The arrangement of windows on the façade typically created a grid pattern, with some projecting out from the façade forming bay windows. These windows combine the need for light-gathering and the need for natural ventilation; the single central pane was usually fixed, while the two surrounding panes were operable.
Some architects of this school are Louis Sullivan, Richardson, Adler. Other architects who collaborated with them or worked in a similar style were Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe.
Examples of this architectural style are Chicago’s Auditorium Building, Carson Company Building, Reliance Building.

jueves, 13 de marzo de 2008

Impressionist Sculpture

In sculpture the artists used nature to help them to create a new sort of liveliness. They tried to reflect the impression of the reality and the temporariness of these impressions. The most genius artist of the impressionistic sculpture is Auguste Rodin. His work has an irregular surface on which sunlight causes glittering. These sparkles of sunlight give the sculpture a new kind of liveliness.
This optic effect was not only what Rodin was after. With these methods of sculpture he tried to reflect the growing-process of a sculpture. Like painters build their work out of colour and light spots, he build his sculptures out of clay and bronze. By making the growing-process visible for the people, he also brought the aspect of temporariness into his work.
We can see the very beginnings of Rodin’s attention to energetic poses in his first major work, The Age of Bronze, which initially appears staged and static, but upon closer inspection is instead brimming with vitality and vigor.
Rodin’s commitment to integrating a sense of action in the poses of his figures carried on through the 1880’s, and he eventually revisited and added upon the legacy of his St. John the Baptist Preaching in a work entitled Nude Honoré de Balzac with Folded Arms. Right away, we can see the similarity between the two figures’ postures: the dynamic lower body; the strong, forceful advance of the legs; and the exaggerated forward stride all contribute to an overall impression of spontaneity in both poses. This ‘movement,’ this ‘conquering advance’ that Rodin’s sculpture had impressed upon its viewers was thus the artist’s way of imbuing a powerful impression through a dynamic pose without being as overt as he was in illustrating it previously - ‘suggesting’ rather than boldly indicating.
Rodin would further develop and build upon the impressions made through his figures’ dynamic poses by branching out of true academic subject matter and giving himself the freedom to create even more fluid and dynamic poses for his figures. No longer would Rodin be constrained by classical, academic themes; his ensuing work on Balzac would mark a changed focus for more modern subjects. Ultimately, due to his increasing concentration on the dynamic poses of his figures, Rodin eventually freed himself from the need for a subject altogether. Subsequently, Rodin would concentrate mainly on experimenting with the forceful poses of partial and fragmented figures. Thus, by developing dynamic poses which captured the spontaneous essence of what he wished to portray, as well as liberating his work from the limitations of an academic subject or specific theme, Rodin can not only be seen as an Impressionist, but also as the father of modern sculpture.

Camille Claudel discovered her passion for sculpture when she was very young. She worked under the aegis of Boucher until he departed for Italy in 1883, and was trusted to Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). She soon became not only his assistant but also his muse and lover.
The two artists inspired each other and Camille studied the nude figure thanks to Rodin, a rare opportunity for a woman of that time period. Their passionate and tormented relatioship ended in 1893, while Rodin's work was celebrated and Camille ignored. In an attempt to establish her own reputation, Camille secluded herself to work intensely, but her efforts remained vain; poor, rejected, her work censored, Camille's genius was never fully acknowledged, thus resulting in the decline of her career and mental state. Isolated and paranoid, Camille was committed to an asylum in 1913, at Ville-Evrard, and transferred one year later to an asylum in Montdevergues (near Avignon), where she remained until her death in October 1943.
While Camille destroyed a lot of her work shortly before her transfer to the asylum, the artistic legacy she left proves her genius. Camille reveals a profound understanding of anatomical features, using mainly plaster, marble, bronze and even onyx. Her work shows elegance and mastery, and becomes particularly original at the turn of the 20th century, with the influence of Japanism and Art Nouveau.

miércoles, 12 de marzo de 2008


Post-Impressionism is an Art style that developed in France after Impressionism, as a rejection of this style inherent limitations. In Post-Impressionism are included several late 19th century painters, among them Cezanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh. A majority of them began their carrier as painters in the impressionist style but then they abandoned it in search for a more personal way of expression. These painters did not have enough with the mere depiction of nature in which Impressionism was based. They preferred a more ambitious expression, even without denying the pure and brilliant impressionist colour and its freedom from traditional subjects and techniques. The work of these post-impressionist artists was the basis for several contemporary trends in painting.

General characteristics:
-Interest in building the shape, the drawing and the expression of the objects and human images.
-Conciliation among the volume (it had been dematterialised by the Impressionism) and the pure aestetic taste (Cezanne)
-Conception of the painting as a whole of geometrical shapes (Cezanne)
-Use of colours that create contrast to distinguish plans and shapes.
-Pictorical effect based on structures, both spatial and chromatic.
-Use of pure colours with enormous emotive weight (Van Gogh) or modulate (Gauguin).
-Full of imagination creations bases on curved brushstrokes that try to express the anguiss and interior insanity (Van Gogh).
-Interest in the exotic (Gauguin) or in the life of the out-of-class (Toulouse-Lautrec).
-Creation of simplified and static compositions, seeking for the harmony of the chromatic masses limited by well defined profiles (Gauguin).

-From the impressionist the taste for colours in Cezanne.
-From Rubens, the neoimpressionist and the japanese cards the rich chromatism and the curves of the shapes used by van Gogh.
-From the exotic cultures of Oceania the primitivism of Gauguin.


He started painting with Pissarro. He left the comfortability of his life and family to live first in Paris, then in Bretagne and finally in Tahití. His painting is characterised by the use of strong tonalities, with alive and many times arbitrary colours that he distributed in big plans limited by curve lined rhytms. He had two main subjects: the exotism of Tahiti and the primitivism of Bretagne. His work was a reference for the symbolist and his sense of colour was influential on fauves and expressionists. He renounced to the perspective, supresed modeling and sades and identified the sensation of flatness, the same as in Japanese paintings.


His painting recovered the volume thanks to the geometry, drawning and the definition of the shapes by using building brushstrokes. He managed to do all this without renouncing to the intensity of the colours by using contrast and coloured shades.
In his paintings there is an special interest on the foreground and he realized small distortions as a result of the use of multiple points of view, as in the case of his still-lives. His painting was the basis for the cubism and influenced in Matisse colours. He painted series as those of the Cards Players and Sainte Victorie Mountain.

Van Gogh

He was stablished in Arles enthusiasted with the light of Provenza and he painted images and landscapes with curved and mobile formes, similar to the flames of his internal fire. He was a pasitonated of the colour as the vehicle for expressin the frequent depressions and anguishes he suffered from. His brushstroke is very characteristic, sinuous, cursive and with a lot of matter. The colours are sometimes aggressive, with unfrequent contrats –yellow over orange-. He openned the way for the expressionism of the 20th century. Works: Self-portraits, Stary Night, Sun Flowers, Doctor Gadget.


He reflected the atmosphere of the night salons, full of dancers, singers and prostitutes who became his models. In his technique drawing is essential, to capsize movement in an ironic and caricaturesque way. He was the impulsor of wall-papers. Works: Moulin Rouge.

miércoles, 5 de marzo de 2008


Capitalist growth and industrialisation provoked an unprecedented change that affected Europe radically. The continuous changes affected Art too: communications are faster, photography makes possible to see things that the human eye could not appreciate. During the 19th century artists were known in the Salons or Exhibitions and the decision about of the admission of artists depended on a jury. In 1863 the Refuses´ Salon was organised, taking part on it some painters formerly not accepted, such as Manet.

It was born as an evolution of the French landscape school of the late 19th century. It is an answer to the new society and philosophy. Bourgeoisie has its own traditions and its way of entertaining and this is going to be one of the subjects of the Impressionism. Cities are the place where lazy pedestrians walk around, even during the night, with its traditional population such as cabaret singers, dancers, cafes. It is an attractive world from which the impressionists extracted their subjects. Impressionists’ paintings reflect the taste for landscape, boats, Sunday meetings.

These painters gathered together around the figure of Manet, refused in the official salons. In front of the new language they defended the free brushstroke, separated into primary colours that must be mix in the eye. People reacted against this art but they counted with the backing of two emergent forces: art critics and marchands.

The style has a precedent in the landscapes of the Barbizon School and the last French realism of Corot and Millet. In addition to this, they were influences by the colour and composition of the Spanish Golden Century. Japanese stamps in fashion at the time, added a new vision of the space and the use of flat colours. Finally, photography was also influential.

The result is a cosy, light painting, normally of landscape, full of light and colour, with short brushstrokes that sometimes allow us to see the canvas. There are not big images because they are made under private commandment. They are far of any social compromise.

Technique and formal characteristics
-They use oil on canvas, even when sometimes they can use pastel on paper.
-New subjects: they recover non important subjects, with an especial interest in landscape, both rural and urban; they want to capsize the fugacity. There are real landscapes, independently attractive or ugly. There are also non important things, as free time, dances, and pubs. They renounce to important subject, with message.
-New valuation of colour. Colour does not exist, neither shape. The only real thing for the impressionist artist is the relation air-light. In this way the light is the real subject of the painting and this is why they repeat it during different hours or seasons. The quality and amount of light is what offers one or another configuration of the object. This is why they painted at open air and they used a fast way of painting to catch the changing effects. Paintings are luminous and light.
-Colour is directly related to light. They use light colours, lively and pure that they apply directly on the canvas, one on the other, so the mix is made in the spectator’s eye. With this resource they gain in chromatic vivacity. Shades are not dark any longer and are reduced to spaces coloured with complementary colours, because in this way the main colour is intensified.
-Free, short and fast brushstroke. It is a need for catching better the atmospheric effects. They do not like to modify the things and they prefer to use big and matter-abundant stains. Line disappears and the brushstrokes and colour are the dominant values.
-The traditional model with graduating colours and light does not exist. As the time goes on the shapes will be dissolved into luminous and chromatic impacts.
-Open air painting. It is marked by the subjects but more by the intention of finding a way of correcting the too mechanic composition of the studio.
-New valuation of the illusionist space. They are not interested on deepness and the traditional conception of the painting as a window disappears. They want it to be alive, a piece of nature, so they escape from perspective and traditional composition. In many paintings the location of the elements, cutting characters and objects, is a photographic effect.

Impressionist painters.
renounced to the academic tradition. He presented in the Refuges Salon Dejeneur sur l´herbre, offering a vision of the light and composition his contemporaries were not prepared to see. The sensation of volume is not given with the chiaroscuro and the images are not located in a certain atmosphere but mixed with it. Other works are Olimpia and The Bar of the Folies Bergere.

Monet is the most poetic of the impressionist, with a fluid conception of nature. One of his first objectives is the immediate visual sensation. This is why he chose aquatic elements, underlining the effects of light on the water. He was worried about light variations depending on the time, what led him to paint the same image at different hours: Rouen Cathedral. His painting Impression, soleil levant was used by a critic to refer to the work of these artists and the movement was named after it.

Renoir is a revolutionary and an artist of strong tradition. He used strong tonalities, red, and yellow and capsized the wavy movement of light on leaves and water. He preferred human motives, mainly women, to express beauty. Work: The Moulin de la Galette.

was influenced by the divisionism and studied carefully the effects of light achieving a great colour. He painted mainly landscapes.

Degas is more an impressionist of the form than of the colour. In many of his paintings the light is substituted but that of candles. The tender clothes of the dances capsized the fugacity of the light. He considered that form has a value in itself and keeps its volume. He represented human images, mainly Dancers.

Seurat tried to represent reality with a rigorous and scientific technique. He began the divisionism or pointillism. He represented the luminous vibration with the application of small dots that compose the unity of the image once perceived by the eye. This is the procedure use in his Dimanche Afternoon a la Grande Jatte.

lunes, 3 de marzo de 2008


He worked just after the labe Baroque period. The two trends that dominated his contradictions were the reaction against the previous conception of art and the desire for a new form of expression.

He started his formation in Zaragoza but at the age of 17 he went to Madrid where his style was influenced by Tiepolo and Mengs, the Venetian painters working there at that moment. He travelled to Italy when he learnt fresco painting and when he came back he was commanded the sketches for the vault of the Pilar. Once in Madrid he started draft designs for tapestry, firstly with works about fishing and hunting scenes, of French influence, but most frequently about folk life and countryside. He recognised the influence of Velasquez and Rembrandt and nature.

In 1780 he was elected a member of the San Fernando Academy, submiting “The Crucified”, following the academic rules. In 1785 he was appointed Official Painter to the Court . In 1792 he went completely deaf and the gaiety of his work disappeared, the colours became darker, the brushwork losser and more expressive. Apart from painting for the court he also painted for himself. He did not care for royalty who tried to please and pose for him and he exposed their weaknesses on canvas, shoving their true characters.

His portraist reveal an insight into the enchantment of women and children. Some of these are like a last farewell to the joys of life for soon Goya retired into the isolation of his Quinta del Sordo. Meanwhile the Napoleonic Wars came and went. The frightful horrors suffered by the Spanish people filled Goya with such bitterness that he turned the full power of his art into an attack on the insase behaviour of his fellow creatures.

Between 1810 and 1814 he produced his famous series of etchings –The Disasters of War –and the paintings related to the war. These two works show an extraordinarily powerful and expressive use of colour. Goya concentrated on achieving that was irrelevant. They represent a revolutionary advance in the whole conception of the range and purpose of painting. War was depicted as futile and inglorious and for the first time there were no heroes, only killers and killed.

During the latter part of his life, before moving to France, Goya covered the walls of his Quinta with the balck paintings, the last and most weird and extrovert of his production. In many ways he personified the spirit of Spain, where the power and beauty of death seemed brood in the air.

He produced four series of etchings: the Caprichos, the Disasters of War, the Tauromachia and Disparates. All of them belong to moments of different crisis. In general they tend to be critic with the society of his time, what in some cases alerted the Inquisition. These works gave him the opportunity of producing in complete freedom, without the sevitude of commissioned work.

He died in Bordeaux in 1828.