Why Art Changed So Drastically Essay, Research Paper
Why Art Changed So Drastically in the 20th Century
Art in the 20th century changed drastically from that of the past. Attitudes began to change about what art was. The new attitude was that art it is what anyone elects to call art. It seems to me that people began to use their imagination more. They no longer felt the need to paint things realistically, they began to paint emotionally. Instead the subject being a biblical scene or a portrait, people were using their emotions. And colors no longer had to be realistic. It became a time when the artist had the freedom to explore, to do whatever they wished. I think that a lot of this new attitude came from the events evolving during the time.
At the turn of the 20th century, people around the world were going through a lot of change in their life. The development of media items such as telephones, radios, and television sets allowed people to see the world in a new light. New ideas and theories were taking place in the science field. The quantum theory by Max Planck, Albert Einstein s theory of relativity, Sigmund Freud was looking deeper into how the mind works, and the attitudes about science in general were changing. World War 1 and World War 2 divided nations and destroyed empires. This had a big affect on people because for the first time, things that were taking place on one side of the world affected the lives of those living on the other side of the world. People could listen and watch what was happening all around the world. The Depression changed the hopes, attitudes, and lives of people. People s lifestyles were changing. The United States went through the transition of being an agricultural nation to that of an industrialized nation. The United States really began to become divided because minorities, particularly blacks, began to stand up fight for their freedom and equal rights and men were being forced to go overseas and fight in the Vietnam War. These two particular incidents made people within the country take sides and turn against each other. Women began to be accepted for their contributions to both art and literature and there were also huge advances in the technical, medical, and industrial fields.
I think that all these changes help to shift the attitudes toward art and literature. People were no longer afraid to create art that broke the traditional rules. I think a lot of emotion and honesty is portrayed in the 20th century. By looking at the short story Cora Lee by Gloria Naylor, Les Demoiselles d Avignon by Pablo Picasso, and the Echo of a Scream by David Alfaro Siqueiros, I hope that I can show the changes in attitude reflected in art.
Gloria Naylor wrote the story Cora Lee in 1950. I think it not only tells the story of one lady, but of a national problem in the United States that is still true today. It s the story of an unwed woman who continues to have babies even though she can t afford, or even care about, taking care of them. She has some kind of obsession with babies. Since they don t stay babies for long, she continues to have children so that she will always have an infant. She is a young, unwed, black woman surviving off of welfare. She has little concern for her older children and only really cares about the infant. She gets a visit one day by Kiswana who invites her and her kids to the park to watch a production of Shakespeare s A Midsummer Nights Dream. She isn t exactly interested in taking her children to the park to watch the show, but does so because she feels that Kiswana is passing judgement on her and she wants to prove that she s a good mother. Something in Cora Lee seems to change; she actually seems to be caring about her children (for the first time) as she bathes them and cleans the house and washes their clothes. As they watch the play, Cora Lee reflects on her attitude towards her children. It seems that she starts to think about taking better care of them and being a better mother for them. And just when you think that there s hope for that change in her, she destroys it. She comes home and finds a nameless man in her room, and goes to bed with him. I thought that this was a great story. We have a national problem of young, unwed woman having children and living on the welfare system. This was true at the time the story was written (1950) and is true today in the late 1990 s. This story I think shows a lot of honesty and truth about this problem. It also shows women in a different kind of light then we ve seen in the past readings. In the past, unwed motherhood happened, but it was so disturbing and unaccepted by people that they rarely spoke or wrote of it.
Pablo Piccaso s Les Demoiselles d Avignon is an interesting painting. It shows 5 naked women (prostitutes, I think) wearing masks. This was a unique painting at the time it came out because Picasso broke the traditional rules of art. He distorted the figures, there was no singular point of perspective, and their body shapes were very pointed and angular. The perception of depth is rather distorted here and the women are irregularly shaped, making this painting look odd. I think that this particular painting shows the changing attitude that art doesn t have to follow rules to be aesthetically pleasing.
The last painting is the Echo of a Scream by David Alfaro Siqueiros. This painting is the artist s protest against war. It has a small child sitting amongst chaos, screaming. The focal point is the child s head. There is a lot of detail in his face, it s obvious that his world has been destroyed and that he is in agony. This painting reflects the artist s personal feeling and emotions about the atrocity of war.
I feel that art in the 20th century is more about the artist pleasing himself than pleasing others. The artist uses more emotions and feeling and that the subject matter of their paintings is more often based on social issues than they were in the past. Art is now more than ever about personal expression.