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Spring 2012

MIT 4.602, Modern Art and Mass Culture (HASS-D)


Notes
Professor Caroline A. JORes
History, Theory and Criticism Section, Department of Architecture
Lecture 2

Lecture 2 Introduction to Theories of Modernity / Mass Culture

1. What is Modernity? Modernism? Modem Art? (The City / the artist)


A. Modem - the idea of progress in history
1. ClassicallMedieval reign of authority vs. Renaissance ideal of progress
through rational empiricism
2. Quarrel of the ancients and the modems full-fledged by 12th century;
"class vs. vulgar" played out in Latin versus vernacular ("Vulgate" Bible).
th
3. Slow, ongoing usage of the binary through 18 century, when
Enlightenment gave "tTIodern" its propulsive thrust.
4. By 19th c, music one of the battle grounds (1818 William Crotch lectures
in England on the ancients versus the modems) - but the line moves ...
(Now Beethoven, who died in 1827, is "classical")

Matei Calinescu: (paraphrase) The idea of modernity was born during the Christian Middle Ages
(Modernus = from modo, just now); 'Classic' was first used in the second century=> 'first class' Roman
citizens, aristocrats -- (The antonym for this was vulgar'). The way to accOlmnodate classical tradition
and the modern came with Bernard of Chartres's 12th century (1126) idea of rational progress: 'We are
dwarfs standing on the shoulders of a giant and thus able to see farther than the giant himself... '

B. Modernization - idea of industrial (scientific, technical) progress independent of any


cultural reckoning.
C. Modernity - already by 1830s, the experience or condition of lTIodernization, expressed
by people as a split between time (moving) and aesthetic (static) experience.
D. Modernism - an intellectual or aesthetic program, from 1850s on (the "ism" word
comes from 18th century replay of "quarrel"). We will focus on this self-conscious
realm in which visual culture ("Modem Art" but also mass culture) is made from
the experience of modernization and modernity.
E. Post-modernism - emerges after 1970, although its seeds were planted in the 1930s, a
rejection or complication of the modernist program ..

II. Who are "the masses"? Is a mass audience produced by mass culture? (The people / a public)
A. From peasants and serfs to "the people" and the proletariat, from subjects to
citizens
B. Early information technologies
1) Shifts from oral to written culture
2) Printing and literacy
3) Universal education and "enlightenment"
C. Early capitalism, commodities, and "alienated labor"

III. Mass Culture as a product of industrialization / modernization


A. The factory and technology: more ilTIages and things for lTIore people
B. The metropolis: more is distributed, concentrated, displayed
C. Dramatic demographic shifts: more viewers '''subject'' to images / messages

continued ...

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Images (selected) for lecture 2

Humanity, Individual Man (vs. HMan," ~'The People," or "The Masses")


Roman copy of Classic Greek sculpture. marble, compared with Renaissance sculpture by Donatello
Donatello David (first version). 1408-09 marble
Donatello David (second version), 1440 bronze
Rodin, Clenched Hand. 1885
Rodin. Burghers of Calais. 1884 and detail of heads (Jacques de Wiessant)
Roszak. MIT Chapel, 1958. compared with Bipolar Form, 1940

Millet The Gleaners 1857


Courbet The Stonebreakers 1849
Courbet Burial at Omans 1849 and detail
Monet Boulevard des Capucines 1873-74
Seurat Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grand latte. 1884-5

Urbanity and the Grid


Greek City (Miletus), Hippodamian plan. before the age of the catapault (-400 BCE)
Roman City (Pompeii), showing forum (market), temple, grid of streets, and extending roads (-1 st century CE)
Ming (China) house of the Fisherman (1140-1770 CE)
Paris evolving in 12 centuries:
the huts of the Parisi on an island in the river
Caesar's plan: roads regularized, bridges built
the medieval expansion and interstitial growth of the city
Paris under Baron Haussmann, mid 19th century (1830s-40s):
Boulevards, Avenues, and Enlightenment "Stars" fanning through the texture of the medieval city
Haussmannian changes in Cairo under Is'mail Pasha, 1890s
from New Amsterdam to New York:
1661 "Nova Amsterdam" and the topography of an island reflected in the streets and canals
1807 the grid laid over Manhattan island. ti lted to maximize the elliptic of the sun's path
1907 the systems of railways, bridges, sewers, fresh water. ..
City plan of Chicago:
1834 the grid over the river
1909 the Burnham plan: systems of waterways, parks. transport, railways
1920s Frank Lloyd Wright's aerial view of the gridded garden city

Information
(organizing the masses)
"Morris" poster column in France. 1910
Wall of posters - from theater to soft drinks. 1901
Newspapers in France, 1875 vs 1912 - toward a culture of the visual
Times Square, New York, 1938 and 1990
"Senseable City" lab here at MIT, now

Names/ Historical Figures:


Baron Haussmann - (1809-1891) born Paris, directed a vast urban renovation plan under Napoleon IlL once quipped
"My titles? I have been named artist-demolitionist!" Baudelaire identified Haussmann as the chief force in
the constantly changing face of modern Paris.
Karl Marx - (1818-1883) political and economic philosopher from Germany, 1844 to Paris where he met Friedrich
Engels, and the two of them wrote the "Communist Manifesto" (1848) followed by Marx's Das Kapita/
(1867), a theory of capitalism. Moved to London after the revolutions of 1848, died and buried in Britain.

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4.602 Modern Art and Mass Culture


Spring 2012

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MIT 4.602, Modern Art and Mass Culture (HASS-D/CI) Spring 2012
Professor Caroline A. Jones Handout
History, Theory and Criticism Section, Department of Architecture Lecture 9

Reviews of the first "Impressionist" exhibition in 1874

In all justice, in approaching the exhibition on the boulevard des Capucines, one should divide
it into two parts: one which cannot be too highly encouraged, the other against which one cannot
react too strongly; the first which has every right to our praise, the second which should be very
vigorously rejected; the latter despicable, the former worthy of great interest. ... This school does
away with two things: line, without which it is impossible to reproduce any form, anilnate or
inanimate, and colour, which gives the form the appearance of reality."

Review of the first exhibition of what was here called 'The School of
ImpressIonism," written by Emile Cardon, La Presse, 29 April 1874.

Persecuted, hounded, shunned, banned by official art, the alleged anarchists


formed a group. Durand-Ruel, who is untroubled by administrative prejudices, put one of his
rooms at their disposal and for the first time the public was able to judge for itself the tendencies
of those who, for some reason, were being referred to as the "Japanese" of painting ..... a
collective force within our disintegrating age is their determination not to aim for perfection,
but to be satisfied with a certain general aspect. Once the impression is captured, they declare
their role finished. The term Japanese, which was given them first, made no sense. If one wishes
to characterize and explain them with a single word, then one would have to coin the word
impressionists. They are impressionists in that they do not render a landscape, but the sensation
produced by the landscape. The word itself has passed into their language: in the catalogue the
Sunrise by Monet is called not landscape, but impression. Thus they take leave of reality and
enter the realms of idealism.
- Review by Jules Castagnary, Le Siec1e, 29 April 1874

'Impression - I was certain of it. I was just telling myself that, since I was
impressed, there had to be some impression in it ... and what freedom,
what ease of workmanship! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is lnore
finished than that seascape.'

- Louis Leroy. Le Charivari, 25 April 1874

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MIT 4.602, Modern Art and Mass Culture (HASS-CI) Spring 2012
Professor Caroline A. Jones Notes
History. Theory and Criticism Section. Department of Architecture Lecture 9

SERIALISM AND SEMIOSIS:


Lecture 9: Serial Impressions (Print and Eye)

1. Negotiating "Impressionism" as an alternate vision


A. Review:
1. Edgar Degas - the Inodern classicist, yet carrying on Manet's
psychologism
2. Claude Monet - sensing apparatus, and man of propriety ("nothing but an
eye, but what an eye!"*)
3. Both "branches" haunted by photography - ally in modernity, anxiety-
provoking threat
B. Theorizing a split in Impressionist modes:
1. Phenomenological (Monet) versus
2. Psychological (Manet -> Degas)
C. Other players: Gustave Caillebotte, Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Berthe
Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eugene Boudin - and the "father" of the group, Manet -
followed by (Post-Impressionist) adherent who goes too far, Seurat.
D. The first exhibition of the "disciples ofM. Manet. ... " in the photographer Nadar's
studio April 15, 1874 (See handout for contemporary press coverage)

II. The sense of the Series


A. Photography and printing as reproductive concepts
B. Registration of petits sensations, minute sensations, on the well-tuned apparatus at a
precise moment in the flux of experience and duration (Bergson <-> Monet)
C. Production of slight variants, "unique objects," in artisanal-industrial mode

III. '"Le High Life:" graphic art and the "painting" of fa vie moderne
A. The market: Boudin's wish that "these people who leave their offices and
cubbyholes" should have a right "'to be fixed upon canvas, to be brought to our
attention ... ," Manet, "What I want today is to tnake money... " and the visual
market of the street
B. The audience: educated and prepared (like the artist) for a visual vocabulary of
radical juxtapositions, partial views, fragmented perspectives.
C. The artworks: foregrounding the sensibilite of the producer / inventor? Or capturing
the gaze with a two-second ""icon" (the poster)?

IV. The poster - putting the "Post" in Post-Impressionism?


A. Jules Cheret - from narrative (1870s) to iconic (1890s)
B. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and the theatrical demi-monde

*"Monet ce n 'est qu 'un oeil... Mais, bon Dieu, quel oeil !" - comment attributed to Post-
impressionist painter Paul Cezanne

See verso for images

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MIT 4.602, Modern Art and Mass Culture (HASS-CI)

Images (selected) for Lecture 9

recall: Niepce, "sun-drawing" (heliograph of reproduction of a 17th century flemish engraving)

Monet, Terrace at Sainte-Adresse, 1867 } Phenomenological Impressionism?

Degas, Place de la Concorde 1875 } Psychological Impressionism?

Monet, Lady in the Garden, 1867


Monet, Dejeuner sur 1'herbe, 1865-6 (and studies)
[compare: Courbet, Ladies by the Seine, 1856-57 and Manet, Dejeuner sur l'herbe, 1863]
Monet, La Grenouillere, 1869
Renoir, La Grenouillere, 1869
Monet, Impression, Sunrise 1872-73 (gave the movement its name in 1sl exhibition 1874)
Daurnier, Nadar Raising Photography to the level of Art, Charivari, 22 May 1862
Renoir, Ball at the Moulin Galette, Montmartre, 1876
Caillebotte, Le Pont de I'Europe, 1876-77 (and variant from same years)
Caillebotte, Rue de Paris, temps de pluie or Paris, Rainy Day, 1877
Monet, Haystacks 1891 (different positions, times of day)
Monet. Rouen CathedraL 1894 (Dawn. Noon, Sunset, etc.)
Monet, Waterloo Bridge, 1900 ("Weather"') and 1903 ("Sunlight Effect"') Monet's series
Monet, Waterliliesl Nympheas, 1905-1907 (series, through the end of his life)
Manet, Bar at the Folies-Bergere, 1882
Seurat. Bathers at Asnieres, 1884
Pissarro, Factory on the Oise; 1873
Pissarro, portrait of Cezanne, 1874
reprise: image d'Epinal (the wandering Jew)
Manet, Chats, lithograph advertising Champfleury book, 1868
Cheret, poster for the Folies Bergere. Lithograph, 1875
Cheret, L 'Etenard Francais: B icyclettes... Lithograph, 1891
Toulouse-Lautrec. Jane Avril oil study, then lithograph, 1893
Toulouse-Lautrec, Medical Inspection. rue Moulins, oil 1894
Toulouse-Lautrec. Englishman at Moulin Rouge, oil study and lithograph. 1892

3
MIT OpenCourseWare
http://ocw.mit.edu

4.602 Modern Art and Mass Culture


Spring 2012

For information about citing these materials or our Terms of Use, visit: http://ocw.mit.edu/terms.