”On or about December 1910 human character changed,” Virginia Woolf once observed. Woolf was referring to the first Post-Impressionist exhibition, held at London’s Grafton Galleries by British art critic Roger Fry and his compatriots on 8th November 1910. It was officially titled Manet and the Post-Impressionists.
The period from 1910 to 1920 was a time of significant change and innovation in the world of painting. It marked the transition from the late stages of Post-Impressionism and Fauvism to the emergence of various modern art movements, including Cubism, Futurism, and the beginnings of Surrealism. Here are some key developments and notable artists from this decade:
Cubism, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, continued to evolve during this period. The movement sought to represent objects and figures from multiple perspectives, breaking them down into geometric forms and planes. Analytical Cubism dominated the early 1910s, characterized by its monochromatic palette and fragmented compositions.
The Italian Futurist movement, led by artists like Umberto Boccioni and Giacomo Balla, celebrated the speed, dynamism, and technological progress of the modern world. Futurist paintings often depicted motion and used bold colors, abstract shapes, and fragmented forms to convey a sense of movement and energy.
Although Surrealism didn’t fully crystallize as an art movement until the late 1920s, some of its precursors and early influences began to appear in the 1910s. Artists like Giorgio de Chirico created enigmatic, dreamlike landscapes that would later influence Surrealist painters.
Expressionism was a broad artistic movement that encompassed various styles and mediums. Artists like Egon Schiele and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner explored raw emotion and personal experiences through distorted and exaggerated forms, often using vivid colors and bold brushwork.
The early stages of abstract art were emerging during this decade. Wassily Kandinsky, a pioneer of abstract painting, created some of his early non-representational works during this period. His art focused on the spiritual and emotional power of color and form.
The Dada movement, which challenged conventional notions of art and often used absurd and nonsensical imagery, began to take shape in Zurich during World War I. Artists like Tristan Tzara and Marcel Duchamp were early contributors to this movement.
In Russia, the avant-garde art scene was flourishing, with artists like Kazimir Malevich, who founded Suprematism, a movement focused on geometric abstraction. Malevich’s “Black Square” (1915) is one of the most iconic works from this period.
The Bauhaus school, which would become a major influence on modern art and design, was founded in 1919 in Germany. It promoted the idea of combining fine art with craftsmanship and emphasized the use of modern materials and techniques.
These are just a few highlights of the diverse and dynamic art world of the 1910s. This decade laid the foundation for the artistic experimentation and innovation that would continue to evolve throughout the 20th century.