Composition No II is one of Mondrians Neo Plastic paintings. Its sections of vertical and horizontals, with red and blue and white segments were intended to eliminate any optical effects. The sections were meant to be balanced in such a way that there would be no interaction between colours and shapes. It was meant to allow, the viewer to experience the universal in a physical form. In this manner, Mondrian was attempting to make paintings that were both elegantly reposed and which connected the modern world with the spiritual realm.
Beginning in 1913, Duchamp challenged accepted ideas about what art could be by selecting mass-produced, functional objects from everyday life and designating them as art. They were aimed at shifting viewers traditional engagement with works of art, by making us question notions of skill, uniqueness, and beauty. He called these sculptures readymades. Duchamp purchased the first version of this work from a hardware store on Columbus Avenue, New York City, in 1915. He took it back to his studio where he signed and dated the shovel, and inscribed it with its new title, In Advance of the Broken Arm. The title slyly alludes to a possible result of using the shovel for its originally intended purpose.
Louise Bourgeoiss sculpture Figure is a thin painted wood tower composed of many small blue sections. It reads as both a highly abstracted human form and perhaps a makeshift building. Seen in the context of Bourgeoiss other work we cannot help but read it as a strange combination of person and shelter. Bourgeois often wrote about her works conveying the emotional significance behind them. While this work seems abstract, therefore, it is highly personal, conveying notions of fragility, loneliness and the yearning for connection.
A strategy of fragmentation and recombination informs Beardens approach to art-making. I try to show, he said, that when some things are taken out of the usual context and put in the new, they are given an entirely new character. The reclining figure at the centre of Patchwork Quilt resembles those of Egyptian tomb reliefs, and its flattened pictorial space recalls Cubist painting. The background is made from collaged fabric that the artist has assembled into a patchwork quilt, invoking a distinctive African American domestic tradition and linking folk practices to the collage strategies of the avant-garde.
Like other Pop artists, Warhol used widely recognisable imagery in his work, such as comic strips, advertisements, photographs of celebrities, and tabloid news photos. In Campbells Soup Cans, the number of canvases (32) corresponds to the varieties of soup sold by the Campbell Soup Company in 1962. Warhol assigned a different flavour to each painting, referring to a product list supplied by Campbells. The visual repetition recalls the artists own history with the soup: I used to have the same lunch every day for twenty years, he said, the same thing over and over again.
While the flesh tones of the reclining nude at the right of Matisses Goldfish and Sculpture suggests a living human being, it is actually a representation of one of Matisses sculptures. Matisse executed this painting after spending two months in Tangier, Morocco. For Matisse, this exotic locale was recalled by the fish, which he kept in a jar in his studio (Matisses children were in charge of keeping the water and glass clean at all times.) In the painting, the orange forms provide bright splashes of colour against the predominately blue composition. By combining flowers, goldfish, and sculpture in a single composition, Matisse unites natural and artificial forms of beauty.
Jackson Pollocks Free Form was painted in 1946. It is a relatively small work for Pollock. Its scale, though, draws attention to the fluidity of the black and white brushwork against the rust coloured background. As the title suggests, the line work is free and lyrical. The fact that there is so much background showing through makes us experience the painting as record of a performance occurring in time.
Person Throwing a Stone at a Bird is one of Joan Mirós Imaginary paintings. He painted 14 of these in the summers of 1926 and 1927 when he had returned for the holidays to his familys farm in the Spanish country town of Montroig. Miró used these works to connect with his native Catalan landscape, representing the Spanish countryside in canvases with brightly coloured divisions that evoke those between earth, sea, and sky. Within them, Miró saw nature erupt[ing] into the fantastic, and the sudden irruption of the infinite into the finite. Based on a sketchbook drawing he had produced the year before, the characters are constructed from the simplest of forms. The mans arms and the birds body are single straight lines, while his eye and head are coloured circles. Miró conveys the movement of the stone with a broken line. As we follow this line we notice that Miró has made a series of exchanges between opposites.
Léger spent much of World War I as a stretcher bearer in the French army. It was this experience that saw him reconnect with his fellow Frenchmen from many classes that made him question his previous highly abstracted art. He strived to make more accessible work and as such recast established subjects and themes—the still-life, the figure, and interior scenes—in simplified forms and primary colours. These offered solid, enduring images as France recovered from the devastation of the war. As Léger said, I had broken down the human body, so I set about putting it together again. Woman with a Book shows the female figure, the bunch of flowers and book as if they are mechanical parts assembled together. The metallic sheen and tight geometry recur in many of Légers paintings of this period.
This painting brings together a group of seemingly unrelated objects: the head of a classical Greek statue, an oversized rubber glove, a green ball, and a train shrouded in darkness, silhouetted against a bright blue sky. The scenes eerie calm, humanoid forms, simplified and monumental architecture, and shadowy passages evoke the anxiety and melancholy felt around the world at the onset of World War I. It was with works such as this that de Chirico lay one of the foundations for the Surrealist movement that began in the following decade.
Brancusi made Endless Column from an oak beam. He cut into it with a saw and an axe and left the marks from his tools on the wood, rather than smoothing them away. He did so in order to maintain the former life of the sculpture - to remind us it was once a beam, and was once a tree. The dimensions of the column were based on a ratio of 1:2:4 between the works minimum width, maximum width and height. The rhythmic pattern encourages us to imagine that the column will stretch out towards infinity. The half units at the base and top also help to suggest such limitlessness.
Untitled by Alexander Calder belongs to the artists category of objects known as stabiles. Stabiles were floor or pedestal-mounted versions of the hanging mobiles for which he is best known. Untitled rises artfully upwards from its three feet, producing the effect of a gentle spatial exploration, both tentative and joyous. Sculptures such as this were inspired by Calders encounter with the paintings of Piet Mondrian. After a visit to Mondrians studio where he saw his primary coloured abstracts, Calder thought it would be wonderful to make moveable, three-dimensional versions. While they connect with Mondrians work, they are expressive of Calders own distinctively playful and poetic vision.
Picassos Seated Bather shows a nude female figure sitting in front of what looks like a summery blue sea. Even though the work is a painting and not a sculpture, the feeling we get is of her three-dimensional form. Maybe this is because we seem to see her from the side, the front and behind, all at the same time. As we imaginatively turn around her monumental, sculptural presence, we also notice that her limbs and torso are both relaxed and tautly animated. This conveys the feeling of supreme and commanding aliveness.
The map of the United States of America is an instantly recognisable symbol. Johns was interested in it as a subject for his art, though, because he believed it was, seen and not looked at, not examined. The artists reliance on existing systems to understand the geography is visible not only in the outlines but in the way he used stencilled letters to identify the states. While reserving the overall proportions of the continental U.S. and the shape of its states, Johns undermines the conventions of mapping as he blurs the borders with brushwork.