Modern Art

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9780131505193: Modern Art
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The third edition of Modern Art, now revised and expanded, narrates one of the great stories of our time - how European and American vanguard culture created modernist art by heeding the call "to make it new." Modern Art captures the sense of intellectual and aesthetic ferment through the close integration of its authoritative text and nearly nine hundred well-chosen illustrations. Right up through the present day, coverage ranges across a broad spectrum of visual arts, from painting, sculpture, and photography to conceptual forms, installation and video art, and architecture.

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About the Author:

John Jacobus is Professor of Art and Urban Studies at Dartmouth College.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Preface and Acknowledgments

Not long ago a well-established, well-educated man declared that he had known nothing of the world—the world of astute or the world of culture-until he took up the study of art history. Through this new-found avocation he not only discovered some of the most resplendent of human creations, but, through them; he also became aware as never before of the vast multiplicity of human experience—its social as well as aesthetic conventions, its politics and economics, its religions, sciences, ideologies, and ethics, its triumphs and tragic failures. Moreover, he encountered them at the highest level of discourse, for that is where art at its best finds its voice and speaks to us, stimulating the mind and spirit and giving pleasure as few other experiences can. It is pleasure on this scale that we have wanted to afford in Modern Art, a book that for more than twenty-five years has provided many thousands of college students and generally interested readers with their first well-rounded engagement with what we know as modern art. If that first experience can be made satisfying in the way described above, surely it will last forever, enhancing life at all its stages and making the world a more habitable and generous place.

Art becomes meaningful because it has the power to express important things that would in all likelihood remain unstated, or stated in less coherent or moving ways, in any other language. And this power is borne out by the fact that so many of the greatest achievements in modern art survived to triumph over the critical and popular hostility that greeted their first appearance. Clearly, great art can stand alone and speak directly to the perceptive viewer, regardless of how we or other writers may explicate it. Yet, like so many of the finest things in life, art for those who have been enriched by it constitutes an acquired taste, as worth cultivating, through an exchange of ideas, as fluency and freshness in verbal address. As the painter Willem de Kooning said a full half-century ago: "There's no way of looking at a work of art by itself: it's not self-evident—it needs a history, it needs a lot of talking about; it's part of a whole man's life."

By modern art we mean the visual arts—painting, sculpture, architecture, and, new to this edition, photography—created during the last two hundred years, primarily in Europe and the Americas. For the sake of greater effectiveness in our presentation of so vast a subject, we have avoided the encyclopedic approach often adopted for broad, chronological surveys of this sort, the better to examine selected but highly representative works in greater depth and from an enlarged spectrum of critical discourse. The rise of penetrating critique with claims to artistic status in its own right—a phenomenon especially notable during the last quarter-century—virtually demands such an approach. Thus, we have also been as much concerned with recent developments and their complex, motivating theories as with the far more familiar ones of classic modernism and now classic late modernism.

The former, of course, began with Manet and the Impressionists and continued on through Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism, all of which climaxed in the international postwar surge of creativity generally known as late modernism. Ignited by high-energy Abstract Expressionism, the late-modern experience finally attained its own apogee in those twinned polarities of the "impure" and the "pure": Pop Art and Minimalism. Once Minimalism, in the late 1960s, appeared to bring the entire modernist project to a close—minimalizing the material until it became immaterial Conceptualism-the post-modern reaction set in, its love/hate challenges to everything that went before so copious and commanding that we have made them the principal focus of our work in the present edition of Modern Art. This, in turn, has encouraged us to take greater account of the growing preference for camera-based art, a preference so widely embraced, and long acknowledged in Modern Art, that we have decided, in this edition, to trace the history of photography back to its sources in the early 19th century and weave that narrative into our story of the so-called "traditional" media associated with painting, sculpture, and architecture.

Even with these improvements, our mode of address remains the same, which is to see art works as striking individual achievements realized within a broader context of history, geography, and culture. For this reason, Chapter 1 has been rewritten, now in the light of the momentous invention of photography, which would change everything in the world of visual expression, beginning right away in 1839. And the force of that development continues unabated, as we demonstrate in Chapter 24, this-time expanded to embrace a number of salient new artists and ideas that have come to the fore in the early years of the 21 st century.

Not only are there dozens of new illustrations; there are as well dozens of older works, throughout the book, that have been converted from black-and-white reproduction to color or simply remade in the interest of higher quality. Consistent with the urge to upgrade and amplify, our publishers have also redesigned the chapter openings, added a second color to the text, and introduced a portfolio of supplemental illustrations, all in color, throughout the sixteen pages of the front matter, thereby bringing visual excitement to a kind of literary no-man's-land usually given over to bare-bones data. And just as the front matter has been reconsidered, so too has the back matter, not only with an updated bibliography but also with a trio of new features: a glossary, a chronology, and a brief appendix on the avant-garde, that cultural phenomenon so fundamental to modernism.

The division of labor in this enterprise was such that our associate John Jacobus prepared the text for Chapters 6, 13, and 21, while the\first of the undersigned continued to be the principal author of Chapters 2 through 5, 7 through 12, and 14 through 20, considerably aided, in content as well as in form, by the second author signing below in the execution of Chapters 2, 5, 7 through 10, 16, 17, and 19. However, for Chapters 1 and 22 through 25, it was Daniel Wheeler alone who prepared the text. But many others, in addition to those listed on page 2, have made contributions without which the book would not have been possible or worthwhile. For the present volume, we are particularly grateful to the classroom teachers—art historians all—who critiqued the 2000 edition and made welcome recommendations for improvement: Professors David Brody, West Chester University; Elizabeth Childs, Washington University; James Housefield, Texas State University; Joseph M. Hutchinson, Texas A&M University; Carol Solomon Kiefer, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Linda Dugan Partridge, Marywood University; Aaron Sheon, University of Pittsburgh; Janice Simon, University of Georgia; Tim Smith, Lindsey Wilson College; and Shelley C. Stone, California State University, Bakersfield.

Earlier, Dr. Charles Stuckey, Professor John Hunisak of Middlebury College, Professor Noelle Frackman of the State University of New York, Purchase, and Patricia Sands of the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, did critical readings of various portions of the text and offered countless valuable suggestions for their betterment. A similar service was provided by Phyllis Freeman and Julia Moore, editors at Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Dr. Ruth Kaufmann generously shared with us her vast, working knowledge of the current art scene, while Dr. Sabine Rewald of the Metropolitan Museum dipped into her personal archive of Balthus illustrations for the wonderful picture we have in Figure 525. Without the aid of Dr. Madeleine Fidell-Beaufort, professor of art history at, the American University in Paris, we would never have been able to acquire quite so many images from the state museums in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

As for illustrations, we looked with total dependence to such major cultural institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, all in New York and all generously responsive to our many calls for help. On more than one occasion Anita Duquette, archivist at the Whitney, proved to be a true savior. Also supportive of our efforts were the Tate Gallery in London, the Stedelijk in Amsterdam, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. Then, too, there were the many commercial galleries—all cited in the captions whose archivists tolerated our endless requests, for images and information, with unfailing grace.

Meanwhile, none of these things would have been feasible without the faith and support of our publishers, in the persons of Alexis Gregory and Mark Magowan of the Vendome Press and Margaret Kaplan, Michael Loeb, and Julia Moore, formerly of Harry N. Abrams, and, at Prentice-Hall, Bud Therien, Sarah Touborg, and Charlyce Jones-Owen. Nor would the book have come into respectable being without the able assistance of Diana Benusiglio, Rosi Chirico, Anna Maria Mascheroni, Vittoria Scaramuzza, and Pietro Bellochio, all of whom worked on earlier editions printed in Milan. For this edition we are especially grateful to Isabel Venero, Sarah Davis, Julia Moore, Cynthia Henthorn, and Peter Rooney, who concerned themselves variously with editorial management, image procurement, the chronology, proofreading, and the index. To one and all we offer our warmest thanks.

MAY 2004

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