Art of the 20th Century

A Revolution in the Arts


Art Styles in 20th century Art Map



The Great Avant-garde Movements




Marc Chagall "Painting as Poetry"

Artists Groups - 1924

New Objectivity   (Neue Sachlichkeit) - 1924
Italian Novecento group - 1924

Moise Kisling
Tsugouharu Foujita
Georg Scholz
Heinrich Davringhausen
Anselmo Bucci
Achille Funi


School of Paris

During the nineteenth century Paris, France, became the centre of a powerful national school of painting and sculpture, culminating in the dazzling innovations of
Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. As a result, in the early years of the twentieth century Paris became a magnet for artists from all over the world and the focus of the principal innovations of modern art, notably Fauvism, Cubism, abstract art and Surrealism. The term School of Paris grew up to describe this phenomenon. The twin chiefs (chefs d'école) were Pablo Picasso who settled in Paris from his native Spain in 1904, and the Frenchman Henri Matisse. Also in 1904, the pioneer modern sculptor Constantin Brancusi arrived in Paris from Romania, and in 1906 the painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani from Italy. Chaim Soutine arrived from Russia in 1911. The Russian painter Marc Chagall lived in Paris from 1910-14 and then again from 1923-39 and 1947-9, after which he moved to the South of France. The Dutch pioneer of pure abstract painting, Piet Mondrian, settled in Paris in 1920 and Wassily Kandinsky in 1933.




"School of Paris"  (Ecole de Paris)

Term applied to the loose affiliation of artists working in Paris from the 1920s to the 1950s. It was first used by the critic André Warnod in Comoedia in the early 1920s as a way of referring to the non-French artists who had settled and worked in Paris for some years, many of whom lived either in Montmartre or Montparnasse, and who included a number of artists of Eastern European or Jewish origin.





During his long and prolific-career, Marc Chagall (1887-1985) drew inspiration from many of the avant-garde experiments, but he did not align himself with any one movement. He was born in a Russian village where Jewish orthodoxy was strictly observed, and later became a pupil of Bakst in St Petersburg. His interest in Cubism. Futurism, and the colour experiments of the Orphists is discernible in his Self-portrait with Seven Fingers (1912—13). With the help of Apollinaire, he exhibited at the Der Sturm gallery in Berlin, but then returned to Russia in order to support the Revolution. He became involved with the Vitebsk Academy, where he invited members of the Suprematist and Constructivist groups to teach, but the fantasy element in his work was incomprehensible to the Russian authorities and, in 1923, he returned to Paris. His fanciful paintings led Andre Breton to hail him as one of the precursors of Surrealism in his study Genese el Perspectives du Su rrealisme (1941).

Drawn from Russian popular tradition and Jewish ritual. Chagall's iconography makes frequent reference to folklore and his mythical native village where man and beast co-existed peacefully, as well as to the themes of circus and flight. The style of these lyrical compositions, with their vibrant and varied colours, hovers between symbolism, descriptivism, and fable. The racial persecution carried out under Hitler's rule prompted Chagall to deal with more dramatic themes. His Crucifixion series, with its dense, dark shades, is highly expressive.


Marc Chagall




Part I

"Painting as Poetry"

Part II

Daphnis and Chloe

Drawings for the Bible


Other Paintings

Part III






Marc Chagall

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born July 7, 1887, Vitebsk, Belorussia, Russian Empire [nowin Belarus]
died March 28, 1985, Saint-Paul,Alpes-Maritimes, France

Belorussian-born French painter, printmaker, and designer whose works combine images from personal experience with formal symbolic and aesthetic elements by virtue of their inner poetic force, rather than by rules of pictorial logic. Preceding Surrealism, his early works, such as “I and the Village” (1911), were among the first expressions of psychic reality in modern art. His works in various mediums include sets for plays and ballets, etchings illustrating the Bible, and stained-glass windows.

Chagall was born in a small city in the western Russian Empire not far from the Polish frontier. His family, which included eight children besides himself, was devoutly Jewishand, like the majority of the some 20,000 Jews in Vitebsk, humble without being poverty-stricken; the father worked in a herring warehouse, and the mother ran a shop where she sold fish, flour, sugar, and spices. The boy attended the heder, the Jewish elementary school, and later on he went to the local public school, where instruction was in Russian. After learning the elements of drawing at school, he studied painting in the studio of a local realist, Jehuda Pen, and in 1907 went to St. Petersburg, where he studied intermittently for three years, eventually under Léon Bakst, who at the timewas beginning a brilliant career as a stage designer. Characteristic works of this period of early maturity are the nightmarish “The Dead Man” (1908), in which a roof violinist is already present, and “My Fiancée with Black Gloves” (1909), in which a portrait becomes an occasion for experimenting with an arrangement in black and white.

In 1910, with a living allowance provided by a St. Petersburg patron, Chagall went to Paris. After a year and a half in rooms in Montparnasse, he moved into a studio on the edge of town in the ramshackle settlement for bohemian artists that was known as La Ruche (“the Beehive”). He met the avant-garde poets Blaise Cendrars, Max Jacob, and Guillaume Apollinaire, as well as a number of young paintersdestined to become famous: the Expressionist Chaim Soutine, the abstract colourist Robert Delaunay, and the Cubists Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, Fernand Léger, and André Lhote. In such company nearly every sort of pictorial audacity was encouraged, and Chagall responded to the stimulus by rapidly developing the poetic and seemingly irrational tendencies he had begun to display in Russia. At the same time, under the influence of the Impressionist, Postimpressionist, and Fauvist pictures he saw in Paris museums and commercial galleries, he gave up the usually sombre palette he had employed at home.

The four years of this first stay in the French capital are oftenconsidered his best phase. Representative works are the “Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers” (1912), “I and the Village” (1911), “Hommage à Apollinaire” (1911–12), “Calvary” (1912), “The Fiddler” (1912), and “Paris Through the Window” (1913). In these pictures Chagall was already, in essentials, the artist he would continue to be for the next 60 years. His colours, although occasionally thin, are beginning to have their eventually characteristic complexity and resonance. The often whimsical figurative elements, frequently upside down, are distributed on the canvas in an arbitrary fashion, producing an effect that sometimes resembles a film montage and can suggest, as it is evidently intended to, the inner space of a reverie. The general atmosphere can imply a Yiddish joke, a Russian fairy tale, or a vaudeville turn. Often the principal personage is the romantically handsome, curly-headed, rather Oriental-looking young painter himself. Memories of childhood and of Vitebsk are already one of the main sourcesfor imagery.

After exhibiting in the annual Paris Salon des Indépendants and Salon d'Automne, Chagall had his first one-man show in Berlin in 1914, in the gallery of the modernist publication DerSturm, and made a strong impression on German Expressionist circles. After visiting the exhibition, he went on to Vitebsk, where he was caught by the outbreak of World War I. Working for the moment in a relatively realistic style, he painted local scenes and a series of studies of old men; examples of the series are “The Praying Jew” (or “The Rabbi of Vitebsk”; 1914) and “Jew in Green” (1914). In 1915 he married Bella Rosenfeld, the daughter of a wealthy Vitebsk merchant; among the many paintings in which she appears from this date onward are the depiction of flying lovers entitled “Birthday” (1915–23) and the high-spirited, acrobatic “Double Portrait with a Glass of Wine” (1917).

The Russian Revolution of October 1917 found Chagall at first enthusiastic; he became commissar for art in the Vitebsk region and launched into ambitious projects for a local academy and museum. But after two and a half years ofintense activity, marked by increasingly bitter aesthetic and political quarrels, he gave up and moved to Moscow. There he turned his attention for a while to the stage, producing thesets and costumes for plays by the Jewish writer Sholem Aleichem and murals for the Kamerny Theatre. In 1922 he left Russia for good, going first to Berlin, where he discovered that a large number of the pictures he had left behind in 1914 had disappeared. In 1923, this time with a wife and daughter, he settled once again in Paris.

Chagall had learned the techniques of engraving while in Berlin. Through his friend Cendrars he met the Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who immediately commissioned a series of etchings to illustrate a special edition of Nikolay Gogol's novel Dead Souls and thus launched Chagall on a long career as a printmaker. During the next three years, 107full-page plates for the Gogol book were executed. But by then Vollard had arrived at another idea: an edition of Jean de La Fontaine's Fables with coloured illustrations resembling 18th-century prints. Chagall prepared 100 gouaches for reproduction, but it soon became evident that his colours were too complex for the printing process envisaged, and so he switched to black-and-white etchings, completing the plates in 1931. By this time Vollard had comeup with still another idea: a series of etchings illustrating theBible. Sixty-six plates were completed by Chagall by 1939, when World War II and the death of Vollard halted work on the project; after the war the total was raised to 105. The Paris publisher E. Tériade, picking up at the many places where Vollard had left off, brought out Dead Souls in 1948 (with 11 more etchings for the chapter headings, making 118 in all), La Fontaine's Fables in 1952 (with two cover etchings, making 102 in all), and the Bible in 1956. Along with these much delayed ventures, Chagall was the producer of a number of smaller collections of engravings, many single plates, and an impressive quantity of coloured lithographs and monotypes.

During the 1920s and the early '30s, his painting declined in the total of large canvases turned out and also, in the opinion of many critics, in quality; at any rate it became more obviously poetical and more and more popular with the general public. Examples are the “Bride and Groom with Eiffel Tower” (1928) and “The Circus” (1931). With the rise ofAdolf Hitler, however, and the growing threat of a new world conflict, the artist began to have visions of a very different sort, which are reflected in the powerful “White Crucifixion” (1938). Throughout this interwar period he traveled extensively, working in Brittany in 1924, in southern France in 1926, in Palestine in 1931 (as preparation for the Bible etchings), and, between 1932 and 1937, in Holland, Spain, Poland, and Italy. In 1931 he published, in a French adaptation, My Life, which he had written earlier in Russian. His reputation as a modern master was confirmed by a large retrospective exhibition in 1933 at the Kunsthalle, Basel, Switz.

With the outbreak of World War II, he moved to the Loire district of France and then, as the Nazi menace for all European Jews became increasingly real, further and further south. Finally, in July 1941, he and his family took refuge in the United States; he spent most of the next few years in New York City or its neighbourhood. For a while Chagall continued in his painting to develop themes he had already treated in France; typical works of this period are the “YellowCrucifixion” (1943) and “The Feathers and the Flowers” (1943). But in 1944 his wife Bella died, and memories of her, often in a Vitebsk setting, became a recurring pictorial motif. She appears as a weeping wife and a phantom bride in “Around Her” (1945) and, again, as the bride in “The Wedding Candles” (1945) and “Nocturne” (1947).

In 1945 Chagall designed the backdrops and costumes for a New York City production of Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird. American art critics and collectors, who had not always been favourably disposed toward his work, were given an opportunity to revise their opinions in a large retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1946 and at the Art Institute of Chicago a few months later.

In 1948 he settled again in France, first in the suburbs of Paris and finally on the French Riviera at Vence and nearby Saint-Paul. In 1952 he married Vava Brodsky and began, at the age of 65, what might almost be called a new career—although the familiar, poetic, memory-derived motifs continued to appear in his work. Between 1953 and 1956, without forgetting his native Vitebsk, he produced a series of paintings inspired by his affection for Paris. In 1958 he did the sets and costumes for a production of Maurice Ravel's ballet Daphnis et Chloé at the Paris Opéra. After 1958 he designed a number of stained-glass windows, first for the Cathedral of Metz (1958–60) and the synagogue of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem (1960–61). In 1964 he unveiled a window for the United Nations building in New York City and completed a new ceiling for the Paris Opéra, and two years later he completed two large mural paintings, “The Sources of Music”and “The Triumph of Music,” for the new home of the New York Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center. In 1967 he created the sets and costumes for a Metropolitan Opera production of W.A. Mozart's Magic Flute. In 1973 the Museum of the Marc Chagall Biblical Message was dedicated at Nice, France, and in 1977 France honoured him with a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in Paris. In 1977 Chagall's “The American Windows” were unveiled at the Art Institute of Chicago.

A repertory of images that includes massive bouquets, melancholy clowns, flying lovers, fantastic animals, biblical prophets, and fiddlers on roofs helped to make Chagall one of the most popular of the major innovators in the 20th-century school of Paris. This dreamlike subject matter ispresented in rich colours and in a fluent, painterly style that—while reflecting an awareness of such pre-1914 movements as Expressionism, Cubism, and even abstraction—remained invariably personal. Although critics sometimes complained of facile sentiments, uneven quality,and an excessive repetition of motifs in the artist's large total production, there is agreement that at its best it reached a level of visual metaphor seldom attempted in modern art.

Roy Donald McMullen





When the Purist artists Ozenfant and Le Corbusier appealed for a "return to order" in art they wished to impose precision on artistic form, constructing works of art with their own calculated equilibrium and intellectual balance, while not Riling out abstract interpretations. Elsewhere in Europe, other artists were also starting to advocate a return to clear and lasting images of real substance. Two discernible trends, which developed simultaneously, pursued this "return to order": one was a geometric style, the other an objective style inspired by naturalism. Evident across Europe was a desire to return to forms that were immediately recognizable. This change of direction sometimes saw artists explicitly rediscovering their historical roots and national traditions. First seen in the years following World War I, this trend continued throughout the 1930s, when it was susceptible to exploitation, to serve the purposes of nationalistic and dictatorial regimes. During the 1920s, two main currents within avant-garde art often intersected. One strand was the verism of German New Objectivity and Magic Realism, and the Italian Novecento group. The works produced by these groups assumed a cold and analytical quality, and usually evoked a motionless atmosphere. The second strand was a new-form of expressionism that characterized the paintings produced by the "School of Paris" (including Modigliani, Chagall, Soutine Pascin, Tsugouharu Foujita, and Moise Kisling) and which was also apparent in certain works by the German painter Otto Dix and artists of the "Roman School". These works featured strong emotional impulses and violent social tensions, expressed through exaggeration, distortion, and bright colours.



Moise Kisling

(b Krakow, Poland, 22 Jan 1891; d Sanary, France, 29 April 1953).
French painter of Polish birth. He studied at the School of Fine Arts in Krakow, where his teachers included Jozef Pankiewicz, a fervent admirer of Auguste Renoir and the French Impressionists, who encouraged him to go to Paris. He arrived there in 1910, frequented Montmartre and Montparnasse, and soon became acquainted with Amedeo Modigliani, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob, André Salmon and Chaim Soutine. For a short time he lived in the Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre and in 1911–12 spent nearly a year at Céret. In 1913 he took a studio in Montparnasse, where he lived for the next 27 years; Jules Pascin and later Modigliani lived in the same building. On the outbreak of World War I he volunteered for service in the French Foreign Legion, and in 1915 he was seriously wounded in the Battle of the Somme, for which he was awarded French nationality.

Moise Kisling
Portrait of Jean Cocteau, 1916

Moise Kisling
Kwiaciarka, 1921

Moise Kisling

Moise Kisling
Portrait of Renee Kisling"
, 1915

Moise Kisling
Portrait of Madame Andre Salmon,1919

Moise Kisling
Woman in a Shawl

Moise Kisling

Moise Kisling
Jeune femme, 1935

Moise Kisling

Moise Kisling

Moise Kisling
Kiki de Montparnasse

Moise Kisling

Moise Kisling


Tsugouharu Foujita

(b Tokyo, 27 Nov 1886; d Zurich, 29 Jan 1968).
French painter of Japanese birth. After graduating from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in 1910, he went to France in 1913. Though associated with the Ecole de Paris he developed an individual style. He became an annual member of the Salon d’Automne in 1919 and a permanent member in the following year. Subsequently his reputation in Parisian artistic circles rose, established by such works as My Studio (1921; Paris, Mus. N.A. Mod.) and Five Nudes (1923; Tokyo, N. Mus. Mod. A.), where he used a thin, delicate line on a background of milk-white material, like the surface of porcelain; this style was particularly impressive in his cool, complaisant nudes. In 1929 he briefly returned to Japan, holding a successful one-man show in Tokyo. He left Paris in 1931 and travelled through South, Central and North America before returning to Japan in 1933. He was made a member of the Nikakai (Second Division Society) in the following year and painted several murals in Japan, including Annual Events of Akita, Festivals of Miyoshi Shrine of Mt Taihei, commissioned by Hirano Masakichi of Akita (Akita, Hirano Masakichi A. Mus.). He visited Paris in 1939 to 1940, painting Still-life with Cat (Tokyo, Bridgestone A. Mus.) and Cats (Fighting) (Tokyo, N. Mus. Mod. A.). In 1941 he left the Nikakai and was appointed to the Imperial Art Academy. He was also attached to the Navy and Army Ministries and used his excellent descriptive and compositional skills to depict war zones in China and South-East Asia. He was awarded the Asahi Culture Prize for the Last Day of Singapore (1942; Tokyo, N. Mus. Mod. A.) and other works. He went to the USA in 1949 and to Paris in the following year, taking French nationality in 1955 and becoming a Catholic convert, with the baptismal name of Leonard, in 1959. In 1966 he had the chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix built in Reims, and he devoted his last years to its design and its stained glass and murals.

Tsugouharu Foujita
Self portrait, 1920

Tsugouharu Foujita
Children and Doll, 1918

Tsugouharu Foujita
Three Ballerinas, 1918

Tsugouharu Foujita
Cyclamens, 1917





The troubled political and social climate in Germany during the years of the Weimar Republic (1919-33) provoked much critical re-evaluation of contemporary art. which, as far as the realms of literature, cinema, theatre, and the figurative arts were concerned, was still largely expressionist. A progression towards a more rigorous and lucid analysis of reality led to the foundation of the Bauhaus school and of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research. The move also prompted the director of the Kunsthalle in Mannheim, Gustav Hartlaub, to organize a large exhibition in 1925 under the banner of " New-Objectivity". Among the artists who took part were Otto Dix, George Grosz, and Max Beckmann (1884-1950), who had been influenced by Dadaism and had already made themselves unpopular in certain quarters through their denunciation of social inequalities and corruption. This stance was typified by such works as a set of fifty engravings titled War (1923-24) by Dix, and Grosz' collections of satirical drawings, The Face of the Ruling Class (1921) and Ecce Homo (1927). Other painters, such as Christian Schad, Georg Schrimpf, Georg Scholz, Alexander Kanoldt, and Carlo Mense, also sought to move beyond Expressionism - which they labelled as sentimental and collaborationist. Their aim was art as an objective statement, in which rigorous, analytical, and uncompromising draughtsmanship would discipline a measured use of colour. Among the favourite subjects of these artists were mercilessly violent erotic scenes, true-to-life portraits, and squalid cityscapes depicting urban alienation. Their subject matter conveyed clear moral judgments and more-or-less explicit denunciations that, in the changing political climate of the early 1930s, were tolerated less and less.





New Objectivity
  Neue Sachlichkeit [Ger.: ‘new objectivity’].

Term applied to the representative art that was developed in Germany in the 1920s by artists including Max Beckmann, Otto Dix and George Grosz. The term MAGIC REALISM is associated but not directly related to it. The use of "Neue Sachlichkeit" may derive from the Dutch word zakelijkheid, which was used from c. 1900 to describe the work of such Dutch architects as H. P. Berlage; this was followed by nieuwe zakelijkheid used from 1923 to indicate the reaction against Expressionism in architecture. The political events in Europe and the general mood to which they gave rise influenced painting, design and photography (e.g. the work of Albert Renger-Patsch), as well as architecture. Despite the wide significance of objectivity at this time, the term applies primarily to a movement in German painting, and it is this with which this article is primarily concerned.


Neue Sachlichkeit

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

(German: New Objectivity), a group of German artists in the 1920s whose works were executed in a realistic style (in contrast to the prevailing styles of Expressionism and Abstraction) and who reflected what was characterized as the resignation and cynicism of the post-World War I period in Germany. The term was fashioned in 1924 by Gustav F. Hartlaub, director of the Mannheim Kunsthall. In a 1925 exhibition assembled at the Kunsthalle, Hartlaub displayed the works of the members of this group: George Grosz, Otto Dix, Max Beckmann, Georg Schrimpf, Alexander Kanoldt, Carlo Mense, Georg Scholz, and Heinrich Davringhausen.

Various trends and styles have been noted within Neue Sachlichkeit. Three subdivisions are sometimes proposed.The Veristic includes the socially critical (and frequently bitter) works of Grosz, Dix, and the early Beckmann. The Monumental, or classical, is represented by Schrimpf, Kanoldt, Mense, and Davringhausen, whose paintings displayed smooth, cold, and static qualities, partially derivedfrom the Italian
Pittura Metafisica ( Metaphysical painting); the term Magic Realism, one of the names sometimes applied to the entire Neue Sachlichkeit movement, best describes the style of these particular painters. Finally, the Rousseau school includes works by Walter Spiess and Scholz, for example, which are deliberately naive, emulating the style of the French painter Henri Rousseau .

Although many Neue Sachlichkeit artists continued working in representational styles after the 1920s, the movement itself ended with the rise of Nazism.


Georg Scholz
(Germany, 1890-1945)

Industriebauern, 1920

Self-Portrait before an Advertisement Pillar, 1926



Heinrich Davringhausen
(German, 1894-1970)

Der Dichter Daubler, 1917

Weiblicher Akt in Architekturen, 1916

Junge mit Seifenblasen, 1923



The Novecento Group

"Magic Realism" was a phrase coined by Franz Roh in a book on Post-Expressionism published in Munich in 19254. What Roh attempted to describe was a tendency that moved towards less ideological art, introducing a suffusion of poetic undertones in an attempt to remove crudeness and harshness. The same phrase was also used by an Italian writer, Massimo Bontempelli, to describe art that rejected reality and cultivated imagination for its own sake, nourished by a sense of the magical discernible in everyday life and objects. This definition provides a key with which to interpret the enchanted atmosphere that permeates the paintings of Antonio Donghi (1897-1963), Cagnaccio di San Pietro, and Riccardo Francalancia. During the 1920s, there was a tremendous amount of artistic cross-fertilization between Italy and Germany, initiated by the exhibitions of Metaphysical and Valori Plastici paintings in Berlin and Munich. The growing trends all promoted a return to naturalistic portrayal, albeit of a changed and subtly ambiguous character, attempting to convey meanings that went beyond temporal and spatial boundaries. In Italy, the tendency was to hark back to classical or primitive traditions, which were treasured as glories of Italian cultural heritage. Anselmo Bucci (1887-1955) and a group of like-minded artists in Milan formed the Novecento group in 1923. They were determined to promote a new, specifically Italian version of modern artistic styles that were relevant to their own time but mindful of the great masters and schools of painting of bygone ages. In the event, Novecento came to stand for the reactionary style of the late 1920s and 1930s rather than for the achievements of this small group. The term "Novecento" was more commonly used to describe a tendency towards a simplification of form, combined with classical references. Paintings associated with this movement have a monumental quality and are easily understood; they comprise a readily accessible and reassuringly familiar iconography drawn from everyday life, and have clear, harmonious forms. The broad span of styles and number of artists exhibiting at the second Novecento exhibition in November 1929 had grown and diversified, ranging from Futurism to Metaphysical painting (Pittura Metafisica), and including Carra, Morandi, Casorati, and Osvaldo Licini (1894-1958) among others. Some of the participating artists were willing to accommodate the propagandist requirements of Mussolini's Fascist government and responded by producing pictures that reflected the regime's ideology, rejecting individualism or any deeply personal themes.




Italian Novecento group
(Novecento Italiano)

Italian artistic movement. It grew out of an association of seven artists at the Galleria Pesaro in Milan in 1920c, who were brought together by a post-war European tendency of a ‘call to order’: Anselmo Bucci (1887–1955), Leonardo Dudreville (1885–1975), Achille Funi (1890-1972), Gian Emilio Malerba (1880–1926), Piero Marussig, Ubaldo Oppi and Mario Sironi. Together with their leader, Margherita Sarfatti, writer and art critic for Mussolini’s newspaper, the Popolo d’Italia, they aimed to promote a renewed yet traditional Italian art. Bucci suggested the name Novecento, which identified the group with a series of illustrious epochs (Quattrocento, Cinquecento) in Italian art history, each with specific stylistic connotations. The choice was not entirely presumptuous, despite the fact that the 20th century had barely begun, for the group represented a vote of confidence in their times and linked the great art of the past to their own.



Anselmo Bucci

Risveglio, 1929



Self-portrait, 1918

Achille Funi

(b Ferrara, 26 Feb 1890; d Appiano Gentile, nr Como, 26 July 1972). Italian painter and teacher. He attended the Scuola Municipale d’Arte Dosso Dossi, Ferrara (1902–5), and studied under Cesare Tallone at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, Milan (1906–10). Influenced by meeting Umberto Boccioni and Carlo Carrà, he formed the Gruppo Nuove Tendenze with Anselmo Bucci (1887–1955) and Leonardo Dudreville (1885–1975) and the architects Antonio Sant’Elia and Mario Chiattone. Funi adopted Boccioni’s and Carrà’s dynamic style (e.g. Man Getting Off a Tram, 1914; Milan, Gal. A. Mod.) and in 1915 volunteered to serve in World War I with other Futurists. This interruption allowed him to reassess Futurism. Influenced by the circle of Fascist intellectuals around Margherita Sarfatti, he developed an allusive realism (e.g. Self-portrait, 1918), which, in the manifesto Contro tutti ritorni in pittura (1920), he and Mario Sironi distinguished from the prevalent archaism. In 1922, with Sironi, Bucci, Dudreville and others, he formed the Sette Pittore del Novecento, exhibiting at the Galleria Pesaro, Milan, in 1922. The following year the Sette Pittore developed into the NOVECENTO ITALIANO, and further shows were held at the Galleria Pesaro, and in 1924 at the Venice Biennale. Funi treated contemporary subjects with an idealizing Renaissance realism, as in Maternity (1921).

Senza titolo, 1940

Interno di studio, 1942

Nudo di donna con statua

Maternita, 1921

The Earth, 1921

L’architetto Mario Chiattone




Trends in the US

The annual exhibitions of the Novecento group in Pittsburgh may have encouraged the trend towards more realistic painting in the US. However, this move had already begun early on in the century, evidenced by the works of The Eight and the Ash-can School. After the end of World War I, two trends emerged in response to the industrial era: one was preoccupied with formal problems and involved a mechanical iconography; the other was more concerned with content and the theme of social protest. Both movements, however, aimed to revive a "native" style and to lay claim to a specifically American cultural autonomy, George Bellows (1882—1925) and, more specifically. Edward Hopper (1882-196") adapted the ideas of the European avant-garde movements - which Hopper had encountered while visiting Europe between 1906 and 1910 - incorporating trends from them into their own view of the sociological conditions of their homeland. From the early 1930s onwards, they explored the signs and symbols of contemporary reality, expressed in American scenes and architecture, frequently portraying states of loneliness and alienation with almost photographic precision. Bellows' vivid painting of an illegal boxing match. Stag at Sharkey's. has been referred to as a landmark of realism. The cold, disenchanted hyper-realism in Hopper's paintings conveys a stance of psychological detachment from the reality depicted. It contrasts starkly with the figurative style and warmth of emotional engagement that characterize the work of artists, such as Jose Orozco (1883-1949), Diego Rivera (1886-1957), and David Alfaro Siqueiros (1898-1974). Rivera and Siqueiros looked to the Mayan and Aztec civilizations for a means of strong and immediate communication with their fellow countrymen. They recognized the potential of large murals painted in public places. Monumental and heroic in scale and explicit in nature, they were an effective means of disseminating social and political ideology.


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