Reflection: “How do we think about Modernism?”

Today we had a lecture with the title “How do we think about Modernism?” that linked modern culture into art, how the industrial revolution influenced art as well as changes in culture and gender roles in art. There were a lot of interesting ideas, and for a first lecture it was really good to put myself into the context of how we reached where we are in contemporary art practice. We even went into subjects that I wouldn’t have noticed on my own, like the presence of steam power and the steam engine in 19th and early 20th century art, how this industrialisation was changing landscapes and the lives of people represented in art.

 We also looked at how the middle class man was a representation of culture in the early industrial world, being independent and free, involving himself in the crowd and city life, whereas women were seen as a part of nature, associated with family and children and natural beauty and were separate from this modernising society. I found it interesting that throughout the 20th century these roles shifted, so that women became commodified in a different way, and became central to modern culture in television, film and publishing, with examples like Marilyn Monroe embodying women as culture. And men became the reverse, with artists like Jackson Pollok declaring “I am nature”- a total opposition to one hundred years earlier.

There’s almost too much to reflect on … so I made notes!

Overall I found a lot of the concepts we explored interesting, and I was able to make some notes of artists we discussed so that I can go back and reflect further.


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