Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Great Upheaval

No, the title has nothing to do with my cooking.

Today we went on an adventure. Hubby and I made reservations at the Art Gallery and left early to get to the city by 11 a.m. to see a special exhibit. It is called, 'The Great Upheaval: Modern Masterpieces from the Guggenheim' collection. We were very fortunate to be able to park across the street from the gallery since the temperature today is a less than pleasant -25 C.

This exhibit emphasized the tumultuous years of the early 1900's when artists such as Chagall, Kandinsky, Matisse, Picasso and others experimented with new ways to create art, thus bringing about movements such as expressionism, futurism and cubism. These works represent groundbreaking modern masterpieces that helped shape 20th century art. Kandinsky named this era "The Great Upheaval."

I came away having heard a lot of terminology like avant-garde, bold colours, sombre mood, distortion and African influence, all referring to this art.

A couple of the many quotes which were written on the walls had special meaning for me. One was by a Czech painter named Kupka who said, "I have come to believe that it is not really the purpose of art to reproduce a subject photographically". This is interesting for a few reasons. I think that a lot of people feel that a painting is not art unless it is very realistic looking. Whereas there was a time when this might have been the case, photography was becoming more common during the early 1900's and therefore it allowed artists more leeway to experiment with colour and form. Why bother to replicate with paintings when a camera could capture images in a realistic way?

Picasso, who is rapidly catching up to Renoir as one of my all time favourite artists said, "I paint forms as I think them, not as I see them." I believe that quote speaks for itself.

I learned a little about 'Der Blaue Reiter' or The Blue Rider group which was named after a painting by Kandinsky who represented spirituality through the use of the colour blue. The group consisted of Russian and German artists who had a common desire to express spiritual truth through their art. They organized exhibitions and toured Germany.

As we exited the exhibit, these words were projected onto the floor. "The world cannot be changed without changing our thinking."

Then, as always, there was a gift shop which one had to pass through before being allowed to exit.

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