Neo-Expressionism emerged in the late 1970’s as a reaction against or a direct result of dissatisfaction with Minimalism, Conceptual Art and the International Style. The often ‘cold’ or analytical approach of these movements, along with their preference for pure abstract art convinced many artists to act adversely as an act of defiance. And so the so-called ‘dead art’ of painting was re-born, Neo-Expressionists embracing many elements of historical movements such as Expressionism, Post Impressionism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and the paintings of Pablo Picasso. To create emotional, sexually charged work, vibrant with colour, often violent brush strokes, symbolism, and narrative and often autobiographical, reflecting the artists memory. contrasting with the morals of Dadaism, the early 80’s new aggressive methods of media promotion, salesmanship and heavy marketing through dealers and galleries saw the rise of Neo-Expressionism, this was controversial as many critics were angered at its over marketing to the art buying world.
Heavily contrasting with the morals of Dadaism, the early 80’s new aggressive methods of media promotion, salesmanship and heavy marketing through dealers and galleries saw the rise of Neo-Expressionism, this was controversial as many critics were angered at its over marketing to the art buying world.
Eric Fischl is an American painter, his style very much reflective of U.S society, Fischl paints disturbing soft porn, drama like interpretations of white suburban America, which questions conformity as well as bringing to light the dangers of closed mindedness.
Fischl is most famed for his oil or watercolour paintings, and his style is expressive with bright bold colours and a high level of sexual content.
Sigmar Polke is a German painter and photographer who founded “Kapitalistischen Realismus” (Capitalistic Realism), a painting movement with Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg but is also closely assosiated with Neo-Expressionism
In the 1970s, Baselitz was part of a group of Neo-Expressionist German artists, occasionally identified as “Neue Wilden,” focusing on deformation, the power of subject and the vibrancy of the colors. He became famous for his upside-down images, he is seen as a revolutionary painter as he draws the viewer’s attention to his works by making them think and sparking their interest. The subjects of the paintings don’t seem to be as important as the visual thought behind it.
Throughout his career, Baselitz has varied his style, ranging from layering substances to his style, since the 1990s, which focuses more on lucidity and smooth changes.
Here are some examples of Georg Baselitz’s expressive ‘upside down’ paintings. Bold colours, charcoal, thick brushstrokes and a very passionate style make these paintings very effective. The nudes both sitting gazing sadly into the distance adds to the emotion, which is amplified by the savage brushstrokes and colour.
Land Art, Earth Art or Earthworks is a movement which emerged in the U.S in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The main theme of this work is that the land is not just a scene or exhibition space for which a sculpture is to be placed. But rather the land is the work and whatever the artist has created shares a special relationship with its surroundings and is a part of it, for without the land the work could not exist.
Most pieces of Land Art have temporary life span, existing only for a short time before being absorbed by the nature around it, or left to erode or decay naturally, this itself being as much the work as its original form. The works are remembered only by photographs or film.
During the 60’s, the hippy era of flower power, free love and freedom of expression probably helped fuel the naturalist sensibility that is Land Art. Really it is a rejection of the perceived artificiality of plastic aesthetic, and huge commercialisation dominating the art world at the end of the 1960’s.
Land Art was inspired by Minimalist Art and Conceptual Art but also by modern movements such as De Stijl and artists such as Joseph Beuys.
Gerry Schum is a German film director, and it was he who coined the name ‘Land Art’ after he directed, produced and acted as cameraman in the 1969 film of the same name. The film is indebted to Schum, who came up with the concept after searching for a new venue for art, which he logically billed as a “television exhibition”
‘Land Art’ showed work from eight American and European artists, Marinus Boezem, Jan Dibbets, Barry Flannigan, Michael Heizer, Richard long, Walter De Maria, Dennis Oppenheim and Robert Smithson.
The artist’s works were created in remote locations which were very unusual for artists at the time, and were intended to be viewed only in Schum’s film. The locations included a moor, a coast, a stone quarry, and a desert. The project was extremely unique and experimental; some of the artists had never worked in such locations before, and some never would again.
“The artists of Land Art sought expressive means of going beyond the limitations of traditional painting on canvas. It was no longer the painted picture but rather the landscape itself or the landscape marked off by the artist that became the actual art object…
The studio-gallery-collector triangle, within which art had previously been played out, was disrupted.” –Gerry Schum
Richard Long is an English sculptor, painter and photographer famous for his stone circles and lines and use of natural substances in his work, such as mud. Several of Long’s works are based on walks he has made, and unique places he has visited, Long using both photographs, text and mapping the land he has walked. His work is usually a response to the environment he has encountered and manipulated in some way, such as the stone line and circle sculptures he has created using stones and rocks he has found. Another prominent feature in Long’s work is the use of finger and hand prints he has made using natural substances.
“I like simple, practical, emotional, quiet, vigorous art. I like the simplicity of walking.” -Richard Long
Andy Goldsworthy is a British photographer, sculptor and environmentalist living in Scotland. He specialises in site specific art as well as Land art. For Goldsworthy nature is no longer just a concept, “My art makes me see again what is there and in this respect I am also rediscovering the child within me…”
Goldsworthy belongs to a younger generation of Land Artists, and so did not participate in Schum’s historic and Land Art film. Yet Goldsworthy’s keen interest in nature, its composition, smell, colour and form earns him a slot amongst the key artists involved in the Land Art movement.
Goldsworthy expresses his travels through nature by making huge nests out of driftwood, skittles made of stone, lines out of leaves that had floated downstream, wilted ferns, and little powdery balls of iron oxide or snow. He then captures his creations on camera, his choice of materials reflecting the diversity of nature. “Photography has become the way I talk about my sculpture.” –Andy Goldsworthy
Nancy Holt is an American artist famed for her Public Sculpture, Installation Art and Land Art. Holt has also produced work in other media including film, photography and writing. Although her most famous work; ‘Sun Tunnels’ were completed in 1976 after three years of planning and installation. The four concrete tubes with varying holes drilled into them are axially orientated on the sun’s farthest position above the horizon. During the summer and winter solstices (two times of the year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator) the tubes become completely filled with light, the drilled holes corresponding to form four constellations, Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricornus.
“I wanted to bring the vast space of the desert back to human scale.” –Nancy Holt
Directly following on from Dadaism there was Surrealism. Its founder, a poet and writer Andre Breton, did not see eye to eye with Dada innovator Tristan Tzara, and they quarrelled on many instances, with one occasion leading to the police being called and Breton being charged with assault. It was these instances and the influences both men had with the art world that lead to Dadaist’s transition into Surrealism, with the majority of Dada’s artists following suit also. Surrealism had an emphasis on positive expression rather than the rejection or anti-art attitude of Dadaism, which is probably where the dispute lay with Tzara and Breton.
Surrealism officially emerged as a movement in 1924, with the publication of Breton’s manifesto, it was to be a revolution, slowly emerging from the older and broader streams of human creativity. This broad tapestry of influences were to be acknowledged and re-worked into Surrealism, such as the Italian Renaissance to the avant-garde movements such as Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, Metaphysical art, and Dadaism.
The central attitude that shaped the movement was the changing of the times leading to a wave of new technology, which included electricity, the airplane and the motorcar, which affected the energy of the people positively.
Nowhere was this change more apparent than the First World War which began on horseback and ended with tanks. During the Second World War, many of the Surrealist’s had to evacuate France and the production of work reached a stand still.
Andre Breton a French writer and Founder of Surrealism, Breton was predominantly a philosopher, writer and thinker rather than a visual artist, although he did produce a small selection of artworks. “Pure psychic automatism” was how Andre Breton defined surrealism, and in 1919 Breton and Phillippe Soupault wrote the first automatic book, ‘Les Champs Magnetique’ while ‘the Automatic Message’ (1933) was one of Breton’s significant theoretical works about automatism.
Breton wanted to discard the conscious production of art and instead rely solely on the subconscious for inspiration. He believed that art that was accessed through the unconscious was more “real” or “true” than rational art. Although this in itself is a slight contradiction as you cannot produce art in an unconsious state, but this is where Surrealism’s close association with dreams come from.
“The philosophy of surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations, in the omnipotence of the dream, in the disinterested play of thought. It tends to destroy definitively all other psychic mechanisms and to substitute itself for them in solving all the principle problems in life.” Taken from the book ‘SURREALISM The Dream of Revolution’ by Richard Leslie.
Salvidor Dali was a Spanish artist, best known for his bizarre surrealist paintings. His work is believed to be influence by the Renaissance masters. Dali has an eccentric attitude to most things in life, from his clothing to his behavior which greatly annoyed his critics, but ensured his rise to fame.
Famous work by Dali include ‘The Great Masturbator’ ‘Premonition of Civil War’ and ‘The Persistance of Memory’ probably the most renowned of his work for the imagery of melting clocks.
Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss sculptor and painter. Born into an artistic family, he moved to Paris in 1922 and was an associate of Auguste Rodin. Giacommetti there experimented with both Cubism and Surrealism and came to be regarded as one of the leading Surrealist sculptors. His style is extremely savage and violent, a friend of his once commenting tat if Giacometti were to sculpt you he would make your head appear like the blade of a knife.
During WW2 the majority of artists and writers who were opposed to fascism and the Nazi regime fled to the US. Surrealism split into two groups ‘The Automatisits’ and ‘The Veristic Surrealists’ with slightly differing points of view. Breton struggled to promote Surrealism in the US, although ultimately he was given a channel for his views to be heard through ‘The View’magazine.
Elements of Surrealism continues to be a strong influence for many contemporary artists, including Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and many more.
The Dada art movement was intended to question and defy everything that art was perceived as at the time. “Dada is irony.” “Dada is politics.” “Dada will kick you in the behind,” exclaimed its participants.
Appearing fist in Zurich in 1916, and quickly spreading across many other cities, including Berlin, Paris, and New York, Dada was the method of practice and a shared attitude rather than a common style. It’s method of shock tactics to sabotage the viewers expectations of art work was thought to challenge the repressive and conventional work of that era.
During the time that Dada was founded WW1 had just broke out and neutral Switzerland became a place of refuge for many people, including many pacifists and artists. These people were distressed at the political situation and started to question common accepted values, attempting to break patterns of thought. They did this through expression in exhibitions, poetry, and performance in their little club, ‘Cabaret Voltaire’.
Tristan Tzara was primarily the founder of Dadaism. A poet, this Romanian born French artist wrote the first Dada texts including Vingt-cinq poémes (1918; “Twenty-Five Poems”) – and the movement’s manifestos, Sept manifestes Dada (1924; “Seven Dada Manifestos”) He was a regular performer at ‘Cabaret Voltaire’ in Zurich.
After moving to Paris, Tzara joined the staff at literature magazine which eventually marked Dada’s transition into Surrealism. He was involved in major quarrels with Andre Breton, continually having to defend Dada’s principles, which somewhat fuelled the official death of Dadism in 1922.
Max Ernst was a German born French artist who never had any formal art training, but founded the Cologne Dada group together with Arp and Baargeld in 1919. Ernst’s work was mainly collage based to begin with although he went on to participate in one of the most controversial Dada exhibitions, ‘Dada Spring Awakenings’. In this exhibition entry was only accessible through a public toilet and once inside the audience was shown sexually explicit photo montages, a fishtank full of blood with a head floating on top and arm poking out, and Ernst’s contribution which was a large sculpture with an axe beside it and an invitation to smash up anything in the gallery including the centre piece, a young girl in a communion dress reciting obscene verses.
In Max Ernst’s later life he was considered to be a surrealist, although his work itself never changed, remaining emotive and backed by his political thinking.
Marcel Duchamp is by far the most famous artist from the Dada movement. A French artist, Duchamp is probably most remembered for his piece ‘The Fountain’; a signed urinal, and the impact this had on the art world, screaming the question of what is art? Both stretching the boundaries and peoples perceptions of what art is and could be. Duchamp was also influenced by Fauvism and Cubism, as you can see in this piece ‘Nude descending the staircase’. He painted very little after 1915, al;though he continued work on his masterpiece ‘The bride stripped bare by her bachelors, even’
George Grosz was a German painter, writer and caracaturist. He joined the Berlin Dada movement in 1918, and is famed for his particularly savage portrayal of life in Berlin in the 1920’s through his caracatures. He found wounded soldiers, business men, and prostitutes great subjects.
Dada was highly influential in Berlin, it’s slogans heavily affected street culture, printed on stickers and distributed throughout the city. “Dada kicks you in the behind and you like it.”; “Come to Dada if you like to be embraced and embarrassed” Here Dada was not just an art movement, it was an attitude or way of thinking and behaving, the Berlin dadaist used these slogans to promote their fair, which the press branded “The Great Monster Dada Show” and expressed their outrage by saying; “These individuals spend their time making pathetic trivia from rags, debris and rubbish.rarely has such a decedant group, so totally void of ability or of serious intention , so audaciously dared to step before the public as the Dadaists have done here.”
Dadaism has many links with other movements including Surrealism,which followed after and evolved directly from the Dada movement, many of it’s followers switching to Surrealism after 1922. Also Avant Garde,Downtown Music Movements, Nouveau Realisme, Pop Art, Fluxus and Punk Rock, all of which are renowned for their desire to change perceptions and question the restrictions placed upon art and music through sometimes shocking freedom of expression to promote change.