Assignment #2

For this assignment you will be writing a “formal analysis”. A formal analysis is a short essay that seeks not only to describe a work of art, but also to analyze its:

1. formal properties,

2. subject matter,

3. historical context and

4. any symbolism that might be contained in the artwork.

Formal properties refer to the composition itself and the dominant artistic elements within the composition. This is a detailed description of the piece in regard to its medium (is it a painting, a

sculpture, a piece of architecture, etc?), the materials used in creating the piece, how the artist used those materials to construct the artwork and a detailed physical description of the

contents within the composition. Don’t forget to include the artist name and the date the artist created the piece.

The subject refers to the content of the image or sculpture. What does the artist represent in the piece? What story is he/she trying to tell? If the piece is a painting, which genre does it come

from (landscape, portrait, etc.)? Is there any symbolism or iconography in the image?

In dealing with the historical context, you might be required to do a little research. You’ll want to understand the time period in which the work was produced. You might ask questions like:

What was going on politically or even artistically? Was the work produced during a time of war or major social change? What conditions led to its creation? Was it a commissioned work of art

and if so, who was the patron? Do some research in order to understand the period in which the artist worked and the underlying reasons for the creating the art.

Often times a work of art contains symbolic reference, sometimes obvious, sometimes hidden. A religious work such as a crucifixion scene might be an example of one whose symbolic reference

is apparent. In the early 20th century the symbolism might be contained within a framework of references that take a little more digging to figure out.

NOTE: One example might be Kandinsky’s Improvisation 28, whose symbolism is hidden in the abstract lines and colors of the painting.The choatic nature of the painting might suggest the chaos

ensuing in the wake of World War I.

Begin this assignment by choosing one work of art by one of the artists you have studied from Lessons 4-6. You can use one of the slides from FADIS, or find one on your own, but you must use

the artists we are studying. If you are unsure about an image, you may always contact me to discuss.

Provide a formal description of your chosen work, then give a brief history of the piece: who was the artist, why did he create the work, what movement did he belong to, what event in history

(if any) is it tied to, are there any political or social ramifications of the piece? Remember to be detailed in your description of your chosen piece. You can also make comparisons to other

artists/works from the same period, or talk about the influence of this artist on others and on the artistic movement to which he/she belongs. Discuss any symbolism referenced in the work as


Finally, you will want to stress how this work of art exemplifies key traits of a work Modern Art — be sure to make a thorough examination based on the knowledge you acquired while studying

the artist and painting that are the subject of your essay. This part of your essay should be at least a couple of paragraphs.

Lesson 4: Post-Impressionism: Line, Form and Color

While the Impressionists utilized individual painting styles experimenting with brushstroke and technique, often the subject matter of their art was comparable, focusing on middle class leisure

in modern Paris and the surrounding countryside. The Post-Impressionists, on the other hand, concentrated their efforts on artistic elements such as form, and color, not necessarily disregarding

subject, but often placing less emphasis on it. In addition, while the Impressionists highlighted the transitory in their work, capturing life’s fleeting moments and light effects as time passed, the

Post Impressionists concentrated on the static, utilizing the Impressionist techniques within a stable composition.
The author of Art Since 1900 considers four 19th century Post-Impressionist painters as the primary influence on art of the early 20th century: Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin

and Paul Cézanne. Seurat experimented with optical effects and utilized scientific theory in his art.   Van Gogh emphasized the expressive quality of color while Gauguin sought the visionary in

his painting, lending to it a spiritual essence. Cezanne, considered by some scholars to be the “father of abstraction,” focused on the pictorial arrangement, abstracting his compositions into

structured geometric planes.
Like other 19th century artists before them, the Post-Impressionists sought to challenge existing academic notions of art and what they considered to be the oppressive nature of traditional

art forms. Their individual offerings laid the foundations of modern art for early 20th century groups such as the German Expressionists and the Fauves.
For this lesson, you will be reading essays on each of the four artists listed above and exploring their contributions to 20th century Modern art.

On completion of this lesson, without the aid of your course materials, you should be able to:
1.    distinguish among the artistic styles of four Post-Impressionists and describe how they contributed to the evolution of Modern art,
2.    identify specific innovations of these 19th century artists,
3.    explain their importance in the move toward experimentation with form and content in Modern art,
4.    apply those ideas to the study of other movements that also contributed to the move toward the Modern in art.

Lesson Plan
1.     Review the images on the FADIS website for this course, listed as “Lesson 3b Post-Impressionism”: http://fadis.library.utoronto.ca/cgi-

bin/WebObjects/FADIS.woa/1/wo/bvFN1mHRP9xv2YQGZsXKW0/ .
2.     Read the following individual sections from the article, Nineteenth Century Art: A Critical History found in your Courseware Pack. Prepare written answers to the questions which follow the

article titles. These written answers will prepare you for the mandatory and graded online discussion based on these readings and your observations.
a. Mass Culture and Utopia: Seurat and Neoimpressionism, pp. 274-281.
•    In a short essay, describe how Seurat simultaneously shows an Impressionist sensibility while also revealing the artificiality and alienation of modern society in his painting, “A Sunday

Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” from 1884.
•    How does Seurat utilize classical elements in this painting? Give specific examples.
•    What is chromo-luminarism?

b. Abstraction and Populism: Van Gogh, pp. 288-291 and pp. 298-303.
•    Compare and contrast the paintings of van Gogh and Seurat as shown in this essay on p. 289. According to the author, what constitutes a successful modern painting and how is that

shown in the work of these two artists?
•    Describe the technical aspects of van Gogh’s paintings from his time in Arles (pp. 298-303).
•    In G.-Albert Aurier’s essay, “The Isolated Vincent van Gogh” from Art in Theory (pp. 948-952 Courseware Pack), how does the author see “nature and truth” in van Gogh’s work?
•    After reading Aurier’s essay, analyze “Starry Night” in terms of van Gogh’s painterly technique as well as its subject. What do you think van Gogh is trying to convey with this painting?

c. Symbolism and the Dialectics of Retreat: Gauguin, pp. 304-312.
•    Describe critic Albert Aurier’s definition of a Symbolist painting.
•    Based on the reading, come up with a definition for a Symbolist painting.
•    How does the work of Gauguin give modern form to traditional subjects in art, such as his “Green Christ” or “Yellow Christ”? What seem to be the most important elements in Gauguin’s

•    Do you find a spiritual aspect in Gauguin’s work? Please be specific.

d. The Failure and Success of Cezanne, pp. 337-350.
•    What are the three basic principles of pictorial invention given to us by Cezanne?
•    Describe the two-dimensional nature of a Cézanne painting. Without using chiaroscuro or perspective, how does the artist show us a delineation of space?
•    Discuss ways in which Cézanne’s work might have helped foster new ways of painting in the 20th century.

Read the short essay, from Art in Theory, “The Isolated Vincent van Gogh,” by G.-Albert Aurier, pp. 948-952, also in your Courseware Pack.

Lesson 5 –  The Early 20th Century, Matisse and Fauvism

The 20th century brings with it not only revolutionary changes in technology, science and industry, but also rapid transformations in the art world. The new ways of thinking artistically that we

will encounter over the next weeks could not have come about without the influence of those artists studied in Lessons 3a and 3b. Artistic movements such as Fauvism can find a direct link to

the art of Gauguin, Cezanne and other post-Impressionist artists. Specifically, for this lesson we will be looking at the work of Henri Matisse, whose images of the female nude the author of our

text compares to the “primitive” nudes of Gauguin. Further, we will explore Matisse’s affiliation with the artistic movement of Fauvism and the controversy surrounding this style in terms of its

association with Modern Art.

On completion of this lesson, without the aid of your course materials, you should be able to:
1.    distinguish the work of Henri Matisse and the Fauves as it relates to the previous movements we have studied,
2.    identify specific contributions of Matisse and Fauvism to early 20th century art,
3.    explain Matisse’s importance in the move toward experimentation with form and content in Modern art,
4.    apply the above to the further study of artistic movements of the early 20th century.

Lesson Plan
1.    Review the images on the FADIS website for this course, listed as “Lesson 5 Matisse and the Early 20th Century.” located at:  http://fadis.library.utoronto.ca/cgi-

2.    Read the following passages from your textbook and prepare written answers to the following questions. Use your written answers to prepare for our online discussion of this chapter:
1.     1903: pp. 6-69
a. What is Gauguin’s link to Primitivism?
b. How did Matisse take advantage of Gauguin’s use of Primitivism in his own art? How about Kirchner? Give specific examples.
c. Compare and contrast Gauguin’s nude “The Spirit of the Dead Watching” to that of Matisse, “The Blue Nude.” What was each artist trying to achieve with his nude? How does each artist

promote a “modern” sensibility in terms of style and composition with his painting of the female nude?
d. How does Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” compare to the two above images (see FADIS image)?

2.     1906: pp 70-77
a. Describe the movement of Fauvism and its relationship to the movements that preceded it. What relation do the Fauves have to the post-Impressionists?
b. Discuss Matisse method for creating his composition. What traditional artistic elements does he seem to reject? Which ones does he embrace?
c. How does Matisse utilize color in his paintings? Give some examples.

3.     1910: pp. 100-105
In his “Notes of a Painter”, Henri Matisse considers his work to be “expressive” Often times, however, the term “decorative” is associated with the work of Matisse. In fact, Matisse himself called

his paintings Dance II and Music “decorative panels.” (p. 104) According to our author, Matisse seems to believe that expression and decoration are one and the same.
a. Read the attached PDF “Notes of a Painter” by Henri Matisse.
1. How does the artist define “expression”?
2. What role does color play in his paintings?
3. How does Matisse attempt to achieve harmony and balance in his images?
b. How does Matisse’s own definition of his paintings as “decorative” counter the true definition of the word?
c. Compare Matisse’s “Dance II” to Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”.Describe the “anticlassical decenteredness” our author mentions as it relates to either of these paintings.
d. Analyze the painting, “Harmony in Red” as it relates to Matisse’s, “Notes of a Painter”. How does it articulate his viewpoint of his own work?

Lesson 5: The Early 20th Century — Vienna Secession, Rodin and the Expressionists

This lesson covers some diverse movements of the early 20th century, but builds off of the areas we have reviewed thus far. The artists we will study here will provide insights into art that

becomes linked to ideas of psychoanalytic theory as well as to what our authors call the “condition of modernity.” Specifically, artists from the Vienna Secession carry a connection to Sigmund

Freud’s “Interpretation of Dreams.” We will explore the philosophy of this movement in order to examine that correlation. Further, we will continue our study of Matisse as he compares to the

artist Pierre Auguste Rodin. Lastly, this lesson will introduce the German Expressionist groups Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) and Die Brücke (The Bridge) and their opposing artistic


Note:The terms “expressive” or “expressionistic” seem to carry over into each of these reading sections. Be careful to consider how these terms are used when describing the different artists

and movements in each section.

On completion of this lesson, without the aid of your course materials, you should be able to:
1.    describe the links of these specific artists and movements to what our authors consider the “condition of modernity”,
2.    identify specific contributions of these groups to early 20th century art,
3.    explain their importance in the move toward experimentation with form and content in Modern art,
4.    apply the above to the further study of later movements of the early 20th century.

Lesson Plan
1.    Review the images on the FADIS website for this course, listed as “Lesson 5: the Early 20th  Century.” at:  http://fadis.library.utoronto.ca/cgi-

2.    Readthe following individual sections from the text Art Since 1900 and prepare written responses to the questions which follow them. Use your written answers to prepare for our

online discussion of this chapter:
1.      1900: pp. 52-56
a. Discuss in detail the Vienna Secession. What is it? Why did these artists come together?
b. Describe the philosophy behind the Vienna Secession artists. How did Vienna Secession artists explore the idea of a “gesamtkunstwerk?”
c. What was Gustave Klimt’s role in the Vienna Secession?
d. How do Egon Schiele’s or Oskar Kokoschka’s paintings reveal   Freud’s ideas of voyeurism and exhibitionism? Talk about their works in terms of their departure from tradition and the idea of

symptomatic portraiture.
e. What is the relationship between art nouveau and the Vienna Secession?

2       1900b: pp. 57-63:
We have already explored in detail the paintings of Henri Matisse. This essay examines the sculpture of Matisse and the influence the sculptor Rodin might have had on Matisse’s work. According

to our authors, the birth of Modern sculpture begins with Rodin. One of the things they note is that while Rodin’s public work seems to follow artistic tradition, in his private work, process and

experimentation become the most important components (p. 57). In making comparisons to Matisse, the authors seem to imply that what was part of Rodin’s “process” (i.e. leaving scratches or

creases and even mistakes in the final product) for Matisse becomes an unsuccessful attempt at an engagement with Rodin’s art in his own work.
a. Using the sculptural examples in the text, compare and contrast of Rodin’s Walking Man (1900) with Matisse’s Serf (1900-03). What criticisms of Matisse’’s sculpture do the authors of our text

offer and why? What kind of influence could a sculptor like Rodin have on an artist like Matisse?
b. Discuss the cubist influence of Rodin.
c. Do our authors see any influence on cubism from Matisse? Why do they consider his sculptures “decorative” like his paintings?

3.      1908: pp. 85-89
Wilhelm Worringer’s dissertation Abstraction and Empathy seems to have a direct link to the work of the German Expressionists.
a. Discuss the two notions Worringer developed in his essay, Einfühlung (empathy) and Kunstwollen (artistic will)?
1. How do these notions relate to the Expressionist groups, Der Blaue Reiter and Die Brücke?
2. According to Worringer, how does modern man relate to primitive man? How does this concept relate to the modern artist and his use of abstraction?
b. Discuss briefly the opposing philosophies of the two expressionist groups Der Blaue Reiter and Die Brücke.
c. How does Franz Marc’s use of abstraction differ from Kandinsky’s, even though they are both from Der Blaue Reiter?
d. Discuss Marc’s color symbolism as seen in his paintings for this lesson on our FADIS site.

Lesson 6: The Early 20th Century — Cubism through Abstraction and Futurism

This lesson explores the movements of Cubism and Futurism and also touches on Abstraction. Specifically, we will study Picasso and the movement of Cubism, including analytic cubism and

collage, then explore the Futurist movement and its Cubist tendencies. Cubism owes its inception to the work of Cézanne, whom Georges Braque, Picasso’s partner in the Cubist movement,

discovered through a series of Cézanne landscapes. Braque spent his early years associated with Fauvism (see image on FADIS Lesson 6), but soon began to use Cézanne’s color patches, forms

and planes in his own work. In 1907, Braque became friendly with Picasso and they began to visit each other’s studios. Braque and Picasso created a dialog with their studio visits, sharing ideas

and collaborating to develop a style that later became known as Cubism. Early cubist forms owe much to Cézanne. This can be seen particularly in Braque’s 1908 paintings from L’ Estaque, which

consisted of highly conceptualized forms, and in Picasso’s painting from 1907-08, Three Women (see FADIS Lesson 6: Cubism). Later Cubist developments, such as analytic cubism and collage

express the intensity of the collaborative efforts of Braque and Picasso.

Various forms of abstract art grew out of Cubism’s experimentation. Prior to World War I, a number of artistic movements were established in Europe that based their subject matter on the new

technologies of the 20th century. Like the Cubists, these movements challenged previous artistic conventions and attempted to create an art that would transform the world. In particular, the

Futurist movement, which began in Italy around 1909, had a well-defined sociopolitical agenda that advocated revolution both in society and art in the hopes of ushering in a new, more

enlightened era. The Futurists championed war as a means of cleansing, of washing away the past and leading to change. Of particular artistic interest to the Futurists were the ideas of speed

and the dynamism of modern technology, so most of their art focuses on motion in time and space. Like the Cubist, Futurist art, while often verging on total abstraction, derived much of its

imagery from the physical world

(source: History of Modern Art, H.H. Arnason)

On completion of this lesson, without the aid of your course materials, you should be able to:
1.    describe the ways in which these artists and movements ushered in a new era in art during the early 20th century,
2.    identify specific contributions of these groups to early 20th century art,
3.    explain their importance in the using experimentation with form and content in Modern Art,
4.    apply the above to the further study of later movements of the early 20th century.

Lesson Plan
1.Read the following individual sections from the text, Art Since 1900 and, as you read, write your answers to the following questions. You will use your written answers to prepare for our online

discussion of these and previous 20th century movements. Also, view the specified slide carousels for these readings. The Cubism and Abstraction/Futurism sections have different carousels

associated with them. A link to their carousels will be provided at the beginning of each section.
2.a) 1907: pp. 78-84 EARLY CUBISM: http://fadis.library.utoronto.ca/cgi-bin/WebObjects/FADIS.woa/1/wo/s0F2xTMfP3itGUbua9h37M/,10
This section regards the “canonization” of Picasso’s famous early cubist painting Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon. According to our authors, early criticism of the painting suggests that it is

unfinished and transitional (i.e. a transition into Cubism), lacks unity and carries stylistic discrepancies. Review the slides on FADIS as you answer the questions below. These slides show some of

the initial sketches for the final painting and will help you to better understand some of the criticism surrounding it.
I.In Picasso’s original sketch which features a clothed sailor at centre, critic Alfred H. Barr believes the artist utilized the traditional “memento mori”. In his 1972 essay, “The Philosophical

Brothel,” author Leo Steinberg rejects Barr’s theory. How does Steinberg’s theory regarding the original sketch forDemoisellesdiffer from Barr’s?
II.What does Steinberg favor as the reason Picasso eliminated the male figures?
III.What is the link to Freud the authors describe exists inDemoiselles?
IV.What do our authors mean by “the gaze” as it is featured in this painting? Do you see a link to the nudes of Manet?
V.How isDemoisellescubist (analyze the composition)?

b) 1911: pp. 106-111 ANALYTIC CUBISM:
Cubism went through many phases from its original inception. This section discusses analytic cubism. According to your text, some of the characteristics of analytic cubism include: 1) a

monochromatic palette; 2) extreme flattening of the visual space; and 3) use of a visual vocabulary to describe the physical remains on the canvas (p. 106). Essentially, analytic cubism takes a

conceptual approach to painting and is designed to show multiple points of view.
I.What do the authors mean by “conceptual approach?”
II.How did Picasso’s dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler define cubism?
III.Discuss Clement Greenberg’s definition of analytic cubism?
IV.How do Picasso’s analytic cubist works differ from Braque’s (review the images on FADIS for your comparison)?
V.Can you see a link between Picasso’s work and that of Cezanne? Describe why.

c) 1912: pp. 112-117 CUBISM COLLAGE:
By 1912, Picasso had transformed cubism into the medium of collage. Although it began with Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon, it is the collage phase of cubism that relates directly to the study of

semiology (the language of images).
I.What is collage and how did the use of collage change the face of cubism?
II.What does the author mean when he uses the term “iconic” to define cubism in its collage phase?
III.What is a paradigm (in semiology) and how does it relate to cubism?
IV.Discuss the link between the poet Mallarmé and the collage phase of cubism.
V.Can Picasso’s collages be viewed as political?

d) 1913: pp. 118-124 ABSTRACTION:http://fadis.library.utoronto.ca/cgi-bin/WebObjects/FADIS.woa/1/wo/s0F2xTMfP3itGUbua9h37M/,9
According to the authors, it was Matisse and Picasso that led the way to abstraction, but their concern remained “in the world of objects and the visual play of figures and signs.” Later artists

would produce art with an added element, that of the metaphysical, including the artists of the Russian avant-garde who utilized transcendental concepts of feeling, spirit and purity (p. 118).
I.How can we really define abstraction? Would it be considered high or low art? Engaged or disengaged?
II.What were some of the philosophical and scientific influences on abstract art? What sources did these artists draw upon?
III.Name some of the stylistic traits of abstraction.
IV.What is contradictory about abstract art? What did it try to achieve?
V.Can Picasso’s collages be viewed as political?

e) 1909: pp.90-97 FUTURISM:
On Feb. 20, 1909, F.T. Marinetti published the Futurist Manifesto in the newspaper, Le Figaro, thus linking the movement to the world of mass culture. According to our text, this paper had the

widest circulation in France. Creating a relationship between mass culture and the avant-garde, and fusing forms of artistic practice with those of technology were important features of the

Futurist movement.
I.What were the three central concerns involved in Futurist strategy?
II.Discuss the Futurist link to mass sculpture as seen in Carlo Carra’s work.
III.What is the connection between Futurism and Fascism?
IV.Read the “Futurist Manifesto” found at:http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/T4PM/futurist-manifesto.html. Discuss the goals of the Futurists as spelled out in the Manifesto.

We will discuss the paintings that relate to the above readings in the required online discussion (week of July 6-10). These images can be found on FADIS under Lesson 5: the Early 20th Century for

this course: http://fadis.library.utoronto.ca/cgi-bin/WebObjects/FADIS.woa/1/wo/s0F2xTMfP3itGUbua9h37M/

Henri Matisse,

Notes of a Painter

A painter who addresses the public not just in order to present his works, but to reveal some of
his ideas on the art of painting, exposes himself to several dange
In the first place, knowing that many people like to think of painting as an appendage of
literature and therefore want it to express not general ideas suited to pictorial means, but
specifically literary ideas, I fear that one will look with astonishm
ent upon the painter who
ventures to invade the domain of the lite
rary man. As a matter of fact, I
am fully aware that a

s best spokesman is his work.
However, such painters as Signac, Desvalliere
s, Denis, Blanche, Guerin and Be
have written o
n such matters and been well received by various periodicals. Personally, I shall
simply try to state my feelings and aspirations as a painter without worrying about the writing.
But now I foresee the danger of appearing to contradict myself. I feel very s
trongly the tie
between my earlier and my recent works, but
I do not think exactly the way I
thought yesterday.
Or rather, my basic idea has not changed, but my thought has evolved, and my modes of
expression have followed my thoughts. I do not repudiate a
ny of my paintings but there is not
one of them that I would not redo differently, if I had it to redo. My destination is always the
same but I work out a different route to get there.
Finally, if I mention the name of this or that artist it will be to poi
nt out how our manners
differ, and it may seem
am belittling his work.
Thus I risk being accused of injustice
towards painters whose aims and results I best understand, or whose accomplishments I most
appreciate, whereas I will have used them as ex
amples, not to establish my superiority over
them, but to show more clearly, through what they have done, wh
at I am attempting to do. What
am after, above all, is expression. Sometimes it has been conceded that I have a certain
technical ability but that
all the same my ambition is limited, and does not go beyond the purely
visual satisfaction such as can be obtained from looking at a picture. But the thought of a painter
must not be considered as separate from his pictorial means, for the thought is wort
h no more
than its expression by the means, which must be more complete (and by complete I do not mean
complicated) the deeper is his thought. I am unable to distinguish between the feeling I have
about life and my way of translating it.
Expression, for me
, does not reside in passions glowing in a human face or manifested by
violent movement. The entire arrangement of my picture is expressive: the place occupied by the
figures, the empty spaces arou
nd them, the proportions, every
thing has its share. Compos
ition is
the art of arranging in a decorative manner the diverse elements at the

command to
express his feelings. In a picture every par
t will be visible and will play
its appointed role,
whether it be principal or secondary. Everything that is
not useful in the picture is, it follows,
harmful. A work of art must be harmonious in its entirety: any superfluous detail would replace
some other essential detail in the mind of the spectator.
Composition, the aim of which should be expression, is modif
ied according to the surface
to be covered. If I take a sheet of paper of a given size, my drawing will have a necessary
relationship to its format. I would not repeat this drawing on another sheet of different
proportions, for example, rectangular instead
of square. Nor should I
be satisfie
d with a mere
enlargement, had I
to transfer the drawing to a sheet the same shape, but ten times larger. A
drawing must have an expansive force which gives life to the things around it. An artist who
wants to transpose
a composition from one canvas to
another larger one must conceive it anew in

Notes of a Painter

order to preserve its expression; he must alter its character and not just square it up onto the
larger canvas.
Both harmonies and dissonances o
can produce agreeable effects. Often when
start to
work I record fresh and superficial sensations during the first session. A few nears ago I was
sometimes satisfied with the result. But today if I were satisfied with this, now that I think I ca
see further, my picture would have a vagueness in it:
should have recorded the fugitive
sensations of a moment which could not completely define my feelings and which I should
barely recognize the next day.
I want to reach that state of condensation of
sensations which makes a painting. I might
be satisfied with a work done at one sitting, but I would soon tire of it, therefore, I prefer to
rework it so t