The Art of Change
Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism were all the rage in 1910. Think Picasso and Matisse, and you’ll have a good idea of what the art world looked like during that time. But what does a sociology major from 2012 care about early twentieth-century art; other than to ask, “Is it going to be on the test?” The answer in Emily Stanton’s case is, “You bet your life.”
Although Emily might have taken a few fine arts classes in college, they did nothing to prepare her for the rigorous six-month orientation she endured when first employed by Evergreen Research Corporation. The following excerpt is from Dear Maude, when her orientation coordinator, Mr. Wilson, reveals what’s in store for Emily:
He turned to the first tab in the notebook, randomly flipping pages as he spoke. ‘The program you will be participating in will cover American society from approximately 1890 to 1920, with an emphasis on 1910. You will receive instruction in period-specific life, gleaned from textbooks, lectures, and hands-on applications in the areas of art, etiquette, history, music, penmanship, and sport. Your instructors are all experts in their fields and will present the material as it applies to both genders, but more specifically from a female perspective. All hands-on instruction will be geared toward a female, namely you. Successful completion of the program will result in your being considered a specialist in this time frame.’
My head was spinning. I felt like I was suffering from information overload and needed a nap.
Possibly sensing my sudden lack of focus, Mr. Wilson looked up at me. ‘Everything we discuss today can be found in the Orientation Manual.’
Thank God! I sighed with relief.
With that, Mr. Wilson proceeded to address each of the tabs in order. ‘Your art instruction will consist of art history, as well as the hands-on exploration of various media such as watercolors, oils, acrylics, and pen and ink. Your instructor, Dr. Timbor, is a world-renowned artist who has taught at such prestigious institutions as Parsons in Paris and New York.’
Never heard of him. I stifled a yawn.
Similar to the artists of the time, Emily sees the world a little differently. While she takes a modern approach to the past, the turn of the twentieth-century art movements brought the past into the future by leading to the modern art of today.
Fauvism, for example, uses color to define light and space versus a more realistic approach. The movement received its name from the wild brush strokes or les Fauves (“the wild beasts” in French) the artists used. Andre Derain and Henri Matisse led the movement.
In Cubism, the subject looks as if it has been broken apart into pieces and reassembled. Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque were cubists. Other art forms such as Futurism, Dada, and, my personal favorite, Art Deco, developed as a result of Cubism.
An art movement that was going out of style at that time was Art Nouveau, which was slowly replaced by Modernism and Art Deco.
More art movements emerged during this time as well, including Neo-Classicism and Luminism (a form of Impressionism).
Despite their differences, many of these movements had one thing in common — change. And change is what Emily finds as she wades through her training program, attempting to master new skills. Unlike those in the art world of 1910, brimming with talent, Emily, however, has more experience handling one of these:
Or these (occasionally):
Rather than one of these:
Regardless of her experience or talent in art, Emily, the consummate overachiever, takes her orientation seriously. Good thing, because her employer doesn’t tolerate failure—just ask her former roommate, Sophia, whose own failure sentences her to life in a bordello.
Fortunately, Emily’s sarcasm, academic skills, and the diary she addresses to her deceased aunt, Maude, also help to see her through the training that culminates in a 1910-themed birthday bash in her honor. But Emily soon discovers that even a sense of humor is no match for what Evergreen Research has in store.
Read more about Emily and her journey back in time!
Start with a Free e-Book - DEAR MAUDE
THIS article links to other movements and artists in the 1910 art world.
GO HERE for examples of artwork and sculptures from 1910.
Next time, I’ll visit the darker side of life—the bordello