Analytical Essay on Manifestos and Movements in Art History

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The influences for my own manifesto begin with manifestos by; Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc’s “Preface to Der Blaue Reiter Almanac” (1912), Vincente Huidobro “We Must Create” (1922), Barnett Newman “the sublime is now” (1948) and Claes Oldenburg’s “I am for an art” (1961). The fundamentals of these manifesto’s wish for exploration of endless possibilities, a desire to be the movement that urges change in the art scene. I want my manifesto to express that art is no way easy, a creation is filled with artistic pain and displays the beauty of the creator. Art can be interpreted in many ways and I want my manifesto to urge people to explore everything and anything, art cannot be defined. The significance of these manifestos in art history have engaged me further to explore ideologies in more detail, sharing my contemporary attitude along with others.

Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc were part of the German expressionist movement, they believed in the advancement of modern art. Thus, wanting to breakthrough from foregoing art but in no means rejected it. The objective of their manifesto “Preface to Der Blaue Reiter Almanac” (1912), is to shed light on universal human experiences, emotions and ideas, sharing this concept with the world for societies benefit.“our [first and] most important aim is to reflect phenomena in the field of art that are directly connected with this change and essential facts that shed light on these phenomena in other fields of spiritual life.”( Kandinsky.W, F.Marc, 1912,pp 37). He sought to convey profound spirituality and the depth of human emotion through a universal visual language of abstract forms and colours that transcended cultural and physical boundaries, reflecting experience. They believed in producing works that have an inner life connected with great change, portraying human compulsion. “Works of art that are nothing, but hollow reverberations of works rooted in the inner necessity. They are hollow, loitering lies that pollute the spiritual air and lead wavering spirit astray”( W. Kandinsky.W, F.Marc, 1912,pp 37) Deems that complete abstraction offers the possibility for profound, transcendental expression and that perhaps coping from other works or even nature interfere with this process. Disregarding works of art that are imitations instead of something more substantial or richer in meaning spiritually. According to Düchting, H, Kandinsky “summarized the central idea of the new art in a pamphlet he published in 1896; “the greatest mistake one can make is to believe that art is the precise reproduction of nature” this revolutionary approach alluded primarily to the works of the sculptor Hermann Obrist”(Düchting, H. 2000. pp 13.) Whom triggered a sensation with his audacious abstract carpet designs, sculptures and drawings. Kandinsky and Marc evoked emotions through a combination of sensations through their use of colour and abstract forms, influencing the idea of speaking from your higher self and by doing so encompassing values, ideas that correlate the imaginations capabilities.

Vincente Huidobro, a Chilean poet involved in an artistic movement called creationism. Huidobro’s manifesto suggests that the imitation of previous human productions will not give complicity of the artist within that’s context is intrinsic to its meaning. “inventing is making things that are parallel in space, meet in time or vice versa, so that they present a new fact in their conjunction” (Huidobro, 1922. pp. 218) simply stating that when various facts are fixed together and create new facts, their connection is creating something unfamiliar, something new. There is clear evidence that from the beginning of art there has been a tendency of imitation, according to McKeon “a discourse on music, painting, and poetry” ‘treats poetry, painting and music as three types of imitation differing in the media and modes of imitation’(Harris. J 1744 pp.55). “poetry must not imitate the aspects of things but rather follow the constructive laws that are their essence, guaranteeing the real independence of everything.”(Huidobro, 1922. pp. 218). Essentially by avoiding imitation in the production of creative outlets and using laws as guidelines will reinforce your independence as an artist, distinctively giving the artist meaning. The push for new creations urges change in societies thoughts by connecting facts, possibly impelling people to think beyond what is known.

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Barnett Newman’s manifesto “The Sublime is Now” (1948) intentionally aims to defuse the ideals of beauty from art history and endorse this idea of the sublime, he believed the sublime is best expressed through our own emotions, communicating a sense of locality, presence and possibility. Newman argued for abstract, expressionism and impressionism, “Newman's extremely reductive style is exposed as nothing less than a subversion of the modernist norm of formalism, in an attempt to elevate art to the spiritual and philosophical questions to which he believed it was best dedicated and best suited to expressing” (McNickle, M., 1996.) Men desired to create perfectly rendered artworks and became confused with the absolute and what the absolute is. Europeans struggle morally to understand their emotions beyond beauty of plasticity art, not realising what they are creating is not reality or beauty, confusing their desire for sublimity. The impressionist inaugurates the movement to dismantle the idealism of beauty, by replacing perfectly rendered skin with harsh hard brush strokes. “However, in discarding renaissance notions of beauty, and without an adequate substitute for sublime message, the impressionist were compelled to preoccupy themselves, in their struggle, with the culture value of their plastic history, so that instead of evoking a new way of experiencing life they were able only to make transfer of values.”( Newman, B 1948,pp325). Barnett Newman’s ‘zip’ artworks has aesthetics of a two-dimensional space, differentiating him from mainstream expressionist, exploring the possibilities of one’s self and how being present in that space generates emotions. Paul Crowther states “his theory-determined repetition of minimal visual format is easily misread as an insistence of the two dimensionalities of the canvas for its own sake, and thence an attempt to reduce painting to its pure essence. (Crowther, P., 1984 pp. 57). The simplicity of the work encapsulates your presence and locality. Johnson.E.H articulates that “The Americans evoke their world of emotion and fantasy by a kind of personal writing without the props of any known shape. This is a metaphysical act. With the European abstract painters, we are led into their spiritual world through already known images. This is a transcendental act. To put it philosophically, the European is concerned with the transcendence of objects while the American is concerned with the reality of the transcendental experience.”(Johnson, E.H., 2018 pp19) Differentiating European art to American art like Newman, conveying yet again that European struggle to create something beyond their emotions. Drawing from Newman’s ideas of beauty and the effects of beauty in art history. Thus, perpetuating the idea of the absolute, disregarding the superficial aesthetics that may exist in societies minds.

Claes Oldenburg manifesto “I am for an art” (1961) articulates the possibilities of using anything in one’s surroundings as art, making the ordinary extraordinary. The pop artist wanted to create a movement that was inclusive of anyone and anything, “I am for an art that is political-erotical- mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum”(Oldenburg, C 1961 pp352) expressing that anyone can be an ‘artist’ and have the social platform to do so, this day an age allows for people to share their creations and voicing their thoughts. Breaking free from the typical displays of art. Oldenburg used word play, bad puns and jokes to promote his art movement for art history and its future. According to Danchev “He became a prominent figure in the Happenings of the late 1950s: anarchic, semi-scripted group performances making use of sculptural props and sets (Danchev, A. 2011 pp351). The happenings began in 1960’s, they were intimate artist performances that explored imaginary and realistic incidents, putting emphasis on our relationships in everyday life. “Theatre is the most powerful art form there is because it is the most involving. . .. I no longer see the distinction between theatre and visual arts very clearly . . . distinctions I suppose are a civilized disease.' (Oldenburg, 1962). Incorporating these performances gave a unique visual experience, presenting an opportunity for the audience to absorb and apply it to their way of thinking, this was a significant part of his practice. Oldenburg’s manifesto influences the ideas of endless possibilities, having minimal limits or laws within the artworld.

These artists have all been part of movements in art history that has aimed to shift societies thoughts towards art, shedding lights on new perspectives. Encouraging people and other artist to explore what’s deeper within themselves emotionally and spiritually, through their use of colour, forms, space, words and objects. It has shifted my thoughts in the sense that art is free and cannot be defined in anyway shape or form. If a creation urges the viewer to feel something about the work or the creator himself, then their work has been successful. Having such a tangible medium that can imply so much …

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Analytical Essay on Manifestos and Movements in Art History. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/analytical-essay-on-manifestos-and-movements-in-art-history/
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