History of Art through its major exponents: Matisse, Wassily Kandinsy, Otto Dix, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali and Max Ernst

4. Marcel Duchamp clip from the shock of the new

The prodigious painting talent of Marcel Duchamp allowed him to master styles like Impressionism, Futurism and Cubism with ease. He was also keen on innovation, as The Descending Staircase demonstrated. The painting is admired and derided in equal measure. It is admired for its complex and imaginative use of the Cubist style. It was derided for the painting was seen as lacking aesthetic taste and for being too academic. A career highlight of Duchamp is his experiments with the medium of glass. The Large Glass, which is considered his masterpiece, is an intricate conception of profane love. Divided into two halves, the Bride teases by perennially unrobing in the top half of the glass. The bachelors in the bottom half, partitioned off access from the Bride, are left frustrated and their love unrequited. An interesting feature of the work is how Duchamp leaves a printed legend to explain the different parts of a painting. The legend is printed in the fashion of a operation manual to a heavy mechanical device. In this way, Duchamp hints at the mechanization of love in the twentieth century.

5. Salvador Dali, the persistence of memory

The persistence of memory is a remarkable piece of painting indeed. The painter is not explicit in the message he wants to convey to the audience. Taking after the surrealist tradition, the painting can be interpreted in numerous ways. But certain features are striking, including the warping and decay of time and the eerie post apocalyptic stillness of planet earth. It appears that Dali’s apprehension about a future desolate world is prophetic, given the effects of Global Warming we are contemporaneously confronting. The melting, wrung out clocks can be taken to stand for the concept of entrophy. Hereby, as time passes, composite objects gradually but surely disintegrate. In terms of the relevance of entropy to planet earth, as time moves forward, the favorable ecological conditions that we happen to enjoy will slowly cease to be. With life forms all becoming extinct, the image of still oceans, rocky mountains and arid plains will become the norm, as the painting suggests. The process of decay is further expressed by Dali in how ants devour a decaying clock.

6. Modern Art Max Ernst & The Surrealis Revolution part 1

Max Ernst is the name foremost associated with the Surrealist Revolution. The word revolution is understood in two ways. First is the artistic revolution that Surrealism spawned. Second is the political revolution that it propagates. But the irony is that in most of Surrealist art, including that of Ernst, there is no overt political content. Ernst’s works came in a wide range of sizes, themes and techniques. While some of Ernst’s paintings employed vivid iconography, others were more atmospheric and evocative. Yet, his works are united by the recurring use of disparate objects and figures. Other characteristics are the dramatic change of scale within the picture, flattened objects and deep perspectives. Politics in Ernst’s works are subcutaneous. Through his repertoire of style and technique, Ernst’s paintings spoke of the horrors of Fascism and Totalitarianism. Ernst’s paintings also made acute observations on the human condition during the first half of the twentieth century.

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