Revival and invention : sculpture through its material histories

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Such motifs, however, appear to be adopted from contemporary Iranian ceramics. The only other notable art form popular at this time is that of hominoid figurines of stone or clay, associated with primitive religious cults; however, their formal idiosyncrasies vary greatly from group to group, and the meaning of their symbolism is unknown. Nor can they—or the pottery designs—be considered as ancestral to Mesopotamian art of historical times, the antecedents of which must be sought in southern Iraq. Here, in the delta, the earliest phase of prehistory is associated with the name Ubaid I, and, since this phase has a parallel in Susiana , north of the Iranian frontier, the first settlers in both areas may have a common origin.

Among these settlers, according to some scholars, was the germ of Sumerian genius, but this is not indisputably authenticated until the end of the 4th millennium. By bce , however, the presence of the Sumerians is finally proved by the invention of writing as a vehicle for their own language. From then onward, successive phases in the evolution of Sumerian art can satisfactorily be studied.


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Three factors may be recognized as contributing to the character of Mesopotamian art and architecture. One is the sociopolitical organization of the Sumerian city-states and of the kingdoms and empires that succeeded them.

Revival and Invention: Sculpture through its Material Histories | Souq - Egypt

From the earliest times, cities were fortified by and adorned with public buildings; irrigation systems were organized and jealously protected; armies were efficiently equipped and troops trained in concerted action; victories were celebrated and treaties ratified.

Because interstate warfare or foreign conquests were primary preoccupations of Mesopotamian rulers, it is understandable that in most periods a certain class of artworks was dedicated simply to the glorification of their military prowess.

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A second and even more important factor, however, is the major role played by organized religion in Mesopotamian affairs of state. Particularly in Sumerian times, the municipal and economic organization of a city was the responsibility of the temple, with its hierarchical priesthood in which was vested an authority almost equal to that of the ruler and his advisory council of elders. Accordingly, in the early days of Sumer and Babylonia , architectural attention was paid primarily to religious buildings , and all sculpture served religious purposes.

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Revival and invention : sculpture through its material histories

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This led to a widespread Classical Revival in modern art , known as the 'return to order', between and For more about art politics in France, see: the Paris Salon.


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Colourism: Fauvism onwards. The term "Fauves" wild beasts was first used by the art critic Louis Vauxcelles at the Salon d'Automne exhibition in Paris when describing the vividly coloured paintings of Henri Matisse , Andre Derain , and Maurice de Vlaminck Most followers of Fauvism moved on to Expressionism or other movements associated with the Ecole de Paris.

Sculptural traditions, although never independent from those of painting, are concerned primarily with space and volume, while issues of scale and function also act as distinguishing factors.

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Thus on the whole, sculpture was slower to reflect the new trends of modern art during the 19th century, leaving sculptors like Auguste Rodin free to pursue a monumentalism derived essentially from Neoclassicism if not Renaissance ideology. The public dimension of sculpture also lent itself to the celebration of Victorian values and historical figures, which were likewise executed in the grand manner of earlier times.

Thus it wasn't until the emergence of artists like Constantin Brancusi and Umberto Boccioni that sculpture really began to change, at the turn of the century. Expressionist Art c. Expressionism is a general style of painting that aims to express a personal interpretation of a scene or object, rather than depict its true-life features, it is often characterized by energetic brushwork, impastoed paint, intense colours and bold lines.

A number of German Expressionist schools sprang up during the first three decades of the 20th century. Expressionism duly spread worldwide, spawning numerous derivations in both figurative painting eg. Francis Bacon and abstract art eg. Mark Rothko.

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See also: History of Expressionist Painting c. It's popularity stemmed from the Exposition Universelle in Paris, from where it spread across Europe and the United States. It was noted for its intricate flowing patterns of sinuous asymetrical lines, based on plant-forms dating back to the Celtic Hallstatt and La Tene cultures , as well as female silhouettes and forms.

Art Nouveau had a major influence on poster art, design and illustration, interior design, metalwork, glassware, jewellery, as well as painting and sculpture. See also: History of Poster Art. Jewellery Art c. Derived from the two German words "bau" for building and "haus" for house, the Bauhaus school of art and design was founded in by the architect Walter Gropius. Its mission was to bring art into contact with everyday life, thus the design of everyday objects was given the same importance as fine art.

Important Bauhaus precepts included the virtue of simple, clean design, massproduction and the practical advantages of a well-designed home and workplace. The design style known as Art Deco was showcased in at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris and became a highly popular style of decorative art, design and architecture during the inter-war years much employed by cinema and hotel architects. Its influence was also seen in the design of furniture, textile fabrics, pottery, jewellery, and glass.

A reaction against Art Nouveau, the new idiom of Art Deco eliminated the latter's flowing curvilinear forms and replaced them with Cubist and Precisionist-inspired geometric shapes. Art Deco was also influenced by the simple architectural designs of The Bauhaus. Invented by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque and considered to be "the" revolutionary movement of modern art, Cubism was a more intellectual style of painting that explored the full potential of the two-dimensional picture plane by offering different views of the same object, typically arranged in a series of overlapping fragments: rather like a photographer might take several photos of an object from different angles, before cutting them up with scissors and rearranging them in haphazard fashion on a flat surface.

This " analytical Cubism " which originated with Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" quickly gave way to " synthetic Cubism ", when artists began to include " found objects " in their canvases, such as collages made from newspaper cuttings. See also Russian art. Short-lived but highly influential, Cubism instigated a whole new style of abstract art and had a significant impact the development of later styles such as: Orphism , Collage onwards , Purism s , Precisionism s, s , Futurism , Rayonism c.

Surrealism onwards. Largely rooted in the anti-art traditions of the Dada movement , as well as the psychoanalytical ideas of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, Surrealism was the most influential art style of the inter-war years. According to its chief theorist, Andre Breton , it sought to combine the unconscious with the conscious, in order to create a new "super-reality" - a "surrealisme".

The movement spanned a huge range of styles, from abstraction to true-life realism, typically punctuated with "unreal" imagery. The movement had a major impact across Europe during the s, was the major precursor to Conceptualism , and continues to find adherents in fine art, literature and cinematography.

Early 20th Century American Art c. American painting during the period was realist in style and became increasingly focused on strictly American imagery.

This was the result of the reaction against the Armory Show and European hypermodernism, as well as a response to changing social conditions across the country. Later it became a patriotic response to the Great Depression of the s.