Modern art movements
With the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the second half of the 19th century, new art styles and movements appeared and disappeared at an increasingly fast pace - thus reflecting
the growing rate of changes in our society. Here is a short overview on important modern art movements from Impressionism to Op Art.
The history of modern art started with Impressionism. It all began in Paris as a reaction to a very formal and rigid style of painting - done inside studios and set by traditional institutions like the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
The exhibition of Edouard Manet's famous painting, Dejeuner sur l'herbe, in 1863 in the Salon des Refuses (organised by those painters who were rejected by the Academie des Beaux-Arts), caused a scandal. It can be considered as the beginning of Impressionism.
The Impressionist painters preferred to paint outside and studied the effect of light on objects. Their preferred subjects were landscapes and scenes from daily life. The best-known names in Impressionist painting are Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro and Pierre Auguste Renoir in France and Alfred Sisley in
The word Fauvism comes from the French word fauve, which means "wild animals." And indeed - this new modern art style was a bit wild - with strong and vivid colours. Paul Gauguin and the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh had carried Impressionism to its limits by using expressive colours. Fauvism went one step further in using
simplified designs in combination with an "orgy of pure colours" as it was characterised by their critics. The first exhibition by Fauvist artists took place in 1905. The best-known fauve artists are Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, Maurice de Vlaminch, Kees van Dongen and Raoul Dufy.
Expressionism, in simplified terms, was some kind of a German modern art version of Fauvism. The expressionist movement was organised in two groups of German painters. One was called Die Bruecke, literally meaning The Bridge. The group was located in Dresden with the artists Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein,
Otto Mueller and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. After World War I, this group was followed by another group of artists, calling themselves Dresdner Sezession.
The second Expressionist gathering of artists was centered in Munich. The group is known by the name Der Blaue Reiter, meaning The Blue Rider. The famous names are Franz Marc, August Macke, Gabriele Mnter, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Alexei Yavlensky.
Art Nouveau Movement
Art Nouveau is French and means New Art. It is characterised by its highly decorative style and by the dedication to natural forms. Art Nouveau was popular from about 1880 to 1910 and was an international art movement. The Germans called it Jugendstil, the Italians Liberty, the Austrians Sezessionsstil and the Spanish Arte joven. Art
Nouveau was not restricted to painting or printmaking. It covered all forms of art-architecture, furniture, jewellery, glass and illustration.
Fine examples of Art Nouveau are the subway entrances in Paris, the glass works of Emille Galle and Louis Comfort Tiffany in the US or the posters by Alphonse Mucha. A famous painter is Gustav Klimt. Art Nouveau did not survive World War I, maybe because of the high prices for Art Nouveau objects. With the philosophical roots in high
quality handicraft, Art Nouveau was nothing for mass production.
Art Deco Movement
Art Deco was primarily a design style, popular in the 1920s and 1930s. In simplified terms, the Art Deco movement can be considered as the follow-up style on Art Nouveau - more simplified and closer to mass production. The Art Deco movement was dominant in fashion, furniture, jewellery, textiles, architecture, commercial printmaking and
interior decoration. The best known name is Rene Lalique, a jeweller and glassmaker. The Chrysler building in New York (1930) is an example of Art Deco style in architecture.
Cubism, another modern art movement, was primarily restricted to painting and sculpture. Nevertheless it had a major influence on the development of modern art. Cubism was initiated by the Spaniard Pablo Picasso and the Frenchman Georges Braques in Paris before World War I. Paul Cezanne, usually categorised as a Post-Impressionist, can be
considered as their predecessor.
Cubism had strong roots in African tribal art. In cubism, geometrical forms and fragmentations are favoured. Everything is reduced to cubes and other geometrical forms. Often several aspects of one subject are shown simultaneously. As famous artists besides Pablo Picasso and Georges Braques, Robert Delaunay, Marcel Duchamp, Juan Gris and
Lyonel Feininger are to be mentioned. Cubism paved the way for abstract art.
Surrealism is another of the many modern art movements in the 20th century. Its philosophical "father" was Andre Breton, a French poet and writer who published the Surrealist guidelines, called Manifesto in 1924 in Paris. Surrealism emphasises the unconscious, the importance of dreams, the psychological aspect in arts. Surrealism
became an important movement in the fine arts, literature and in films (by the Spaniard Bunuel for instance).
For the fine arts, the best-known names are Salvador Dali, the Italian Giorgio de Chirico with his strange and eerie town views, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Yves Tanguy, Rene Margritte and the Russian Marc Chagall.
Russian-born painter Wassily Kandinsky is said to be the father of abstract art. If you should ever come to Munich, you should not miss a visit of the Lenbachhaus Museum. It has many Wassily Kandinsky paintings on display and you can recognise very well how his style developed by and by to semi-abstract and then to abstract painting. Piet
Mondrian, a Dutch painter, is another dominant character in establishing abstract painting. Mondrian had experienced cubism in Paris. During World War II many leading artists immigrated to the US, for instance Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp and Marc Chagall. Thus New York became the new center for modern art and abstract painting.
Pop Art Movement
The term Pop Art is an abbreviation for Popular Art. The name says it all. The Pop Art movement wanted to bring art back into the daily life of people. It was a reaction against abstract painting, which pop artists considered as too sophisticated and elite. Pop artists' favourite images were objects from everyday life, like soup cans for
Andy Warhol or comics for Roy Lichtenstein.
Typical for the attitude of the Pop Art movement was Andy Warhol's use of serigraphy, a photo-realistic, mass-production technique of printmaking. Pop Art intruded into the media and advertising. The differences between the fine arts and commercial arts were voluntarily torn down. An excellent example are the designs of music album covers
in the 60s. The undoubted cult figure of Pop Art was Andy Warhol (1928-1987). Other great names are Jaspar Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein, Georg Segal, Wayne or James Rosenquist. The Pop Art movement was mainly an American and British art movement.
Op Art Movement
After Pop Art it was Op Art, a short form for Optical Art. Op Art expressed itself with reduced geometrical forms - sometimes in black and white contrasts and sometimes with very brilliant colours. The most prominent artist is Hungarian-born Vasarely. In the 70s Op Art even made its way into fashion design. But Op Art never succeeded in
becoming a really popular mass-movement of modern art like Pop Art.
Kalutara girls take on theatrical challenge
Doothikavo (Mission Everlasting) is produced by female
students of Holy Family Convent, Kalutara. The content of this play can give rise to a deep social discourse.
Its theme is the guerilla struggle against the Russian army in Chechnya, which is a region with a Muslim majority.
Guerillas in Chechnya took school children as hostages. In the play, they have been kept as hostages for a number of days in the school. The play is a very artistic and powerful portrayal of the attempt of the Russian army to free these hostages.
The theme built around this true incident moves the spectator. In the drama this series of true past incidents are blended very well into the theme.
Rachel Corry, an American school girl sacrifices herself as a human shield against the Israeli armies in Palestine.
In South Africa, Steve Biko raises the banner of a heroic struggle against apartheid.
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. leads the struggle for equality against the colour bar in the USA.
The students say that the drama was staged with only a four month practice period. As the play develops the students boldly reveal their inner transformation before the spectators.
Their artistic contribution brings out a theme which is an immensely significant challenge to our society.
The aim of showing this drama in Colombo is to bring this experience as well as the students before a broader audience. For this play, we want to create a broader audience, uniting all ethnic groups, religious communities and enlightened political activists, peace activists, artists and journalists.
The drama will go on the boards at the Lionel Wendt on December 8 at 6:45pm.
Looking for a fun filled musical event for the whole family this Christmas?
It's going to be one of the most cherished moments you will ever experience this season. Celebrate it with the Ensemble at the Russian Cultural Centre on December 15,16 and 17 at 7pm .
Ninety minutes of music, the organisers of this show guarantee song and poetry capturing the perfect spirit of Christmas.
The performance will commence at 7 pm in the garden of the theatre, where the well lit up trees will enable you to mingle with friends and share your festive secrets sipping a glass of iced coffee and cake. After which the show will commence with a perfect blend of Christmas carols improvised by the Ensemble instrumentalist- Chaminda
Samaraweera ( drums and percussion), George Kennedy (guitar) and Vinodh Senadeera (clavinova).
The production has been designed by the trio - Suki Goonetilleke, Chaminda Samaraweera and Vinodh Senadeera who have designed shows with the Combined Theatre Company and directed many productions for schools as well. They have carefully selected the content to suit both the young and old.
For the children, it will be a journey through some songs from Walt Disney and Children's Christmas songs including- I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Clause, When Santa Got Stuck Up The Chimney, Beauty And The Beast. For the adults it will be a mixture of pop and jazz including Santa Baby, Mistletoe And Wine, Do You Hear What I Hear, and the ever
famous 0 Holy Night!
The Soloists for the show are performers with a wide range of experience - Dayan Fernando, a past head prefect of S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia and also a past choir leader, Bhagyani Benedict a teacher of music and singing, Shenali Peiris a media personality, Dilini Perera, the Yes FM 2005 Radio Super Star winner, Dilan Fox, Dinel and
Dion Dias, Anushka and Avishka Samarasinghe and Niran De Mel.
The highlight of the evening will be the Joshaya Singers, a new choir consisting of 25 children, directed by Bhagyani Benedict. Their singing style and performance will be an event not to be missed. The choir will be singing a medley of carols together with Let There Be peace On
Earth. The poetry and playlet is directed by Suki Goonetilleka who will also perform with Dilesh Dias, Asvni Perera, Pramukshi and Sadeesha Kariyawasam.
To add a little more flavour to the Christmas mood, a little gift bag will be given to all children below the age of 10.
Tickets are available at The Commons Coffee House, Flower Road, Colombo 7 and the Russian Centre. Limited seating.
Sale of needle work and crafts
A creative and dedicated craft-woman Nirmala Gunawardene will hold a unique sale of needle work and crafts on Saturday, December 17, at
Dutugemunu Street, Kohuwala, from 9.30 a.m. onwards.
Nirmala is no stranger in the craft world. She is well known for the beautiful Do It Yourself (DIY) kits she imports from USA and in no small measure, pioneered the art of ribbon work in Sri Lanka.
Nirmala's mother was her source of inspiration and recognising her inborn talents encouraged her to develop the crafting skills. She learnt the intricacies of the art of embroidery under well known teacher Andrea Boekel, now resident
in Australia. Nirmala, in turn, whilst developing her own style has taught this craft to many students who attended her classes.
The "ready to work kits" are all produced by fine designers in the USA and are absolutely breathtaking. By following simple instructions provided with the kits, an uninitiated crafter can produce beautiful masterpieces. These kits are in many techniques such as cross
stitch, needlepoint, crewel embroidery, ribbon embroidery, etc. These kits solely imported by her proved to be a runaway success. A few manufacturers have appointed her as their sole agent in Sri Lanka.
This sale promises to be a truly different one for all lovers of crafts and needlework and the range includes table cloths, cushion covers, ladies clothing, bags, hand made greeting cards, tagged at buyer friendly prices. Especially significant will be the beautifully hand embroidered, old fashioned party dresses from the toddler to the
Also on display will be books on crafts and needlework, Brazilian embroidery thread, silk ribbon, and a range of DIY kits at a discounted price.
A worthy feature at this sale will be the hand crafted lace and many items produced by the ladies affected by the tsunami.
Nirmala is a very dedicated craft woman who is in the trade for the sheer love and joy it brings.