I guess you could call me an aspiring art critic, an admirer of Clive Bell and Frida Kahlo reincarnated with a dash of Rococo.

  • Alexia Morris

Its been a while... lets talk about modernism.

I know I have been a bit m.i.a but I am back at university and am really starting to understand the whole pressure behind getting a degree... I'm not at school any more kids. I am getting used to it now and am going to aim for a blog post every month with loads more during my holidays so hang tight!

Modernism...what an ambiguous word. I am looking at modernism in one of my modules and through everything that I thought I knew about art, I now have come to the conclusion that modernism will really tell you otherwise. Looking at artists such as the dadaists, Theo van Doesburg, Piet Mondrian, and El Lissitzky has slightly blown my mind. All these people were attacking the traditional concept of what 'art' truly was and coming up with manifesto after manifesto on what they think it really is. Different ideas, styles, and theories were all up in the air and seemed too radical at the time yet we look at modernism now with different eyes. Our generation is so accustomed to the 'shock' factor behind art that we do not respond to the geometrical forms of Mondrian with disgust but rather with fascination. I recently read an article called 'What the hell was modernism?' by one of my favourite art critics called Jerry Saltz, and he spoke about how other 'periods' and 'styles' seem to fade away and something else will come along and overtake it but Modernism has never really ended, it has just evolved. Boundaries are pushed further and further and now artists like Jeff Koons and Jenny Saville have shown this diverse spectrum which has now become this new emerged 'modernism'. I guess you can't call it that now.

I feel as though when people go to galleries now there is this idea that taking a photo next to a piece of abstract art looks cool on your Instagram, Saltz talks about this and the 'fashion' of modern art. I know that modernists, some, wanted to almost erase the past art and create a new definition, essentially for what was going to be understood as art. As an art historian I think that is a stupid idea if you don't look at the past then how can you understand how things have changed. I love to see the journey of how art has come to what it is today. Besides, art, personally, links into culture and society and looking at society in history shows how things have evolved. Why wouldn't you want to know about your predecessors?

Last point (I'd love to write forever but I don't want to bore anyone), in terms of looking into the past how would the feminist writings about art history have begun. They wouldn't have. Through looking back in time we have identified the reason behind women's 'removal' in art history, and how they never had the academic or financial success as men. If you're interested in this idea then I'd really recommend reading Linda Nochlin's "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?"

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My name is Alexia and I am 20 years old. I am currently studying History of art at Oxford Brookes University and found that it has inspired me to really look at art with a different eye. I follow a critic called Jerry Saltz on Instagram and through reading his work and looking at the writings of Vasari and Clive Bell I have realised that I have an extreme love for writing and talking about art. I do paint in my spare time and have always loved it but I have always found it so interesting to learn new things about artists. I remember learning about the life of Toulouse-Lautrec when I wrote about Women at their 'toilette' for my A-level coursework and being completely fascinated by his absinthe addiction and what he got up to. When you find out about the life and personality of an artist it really changes your opinion on their works which is not necessarily a good thing but it is something which is completely relevant. When I learnt about The Bloomsbury group and how they intended to dissociate form, colour and lines with a subject matter I learnt this new way of observing art. I always find that keeping an open mind no matter how hard it may be is the only way to fully and truly appreciate a piece, so that is what I intend to use this blog for.


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