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Category Archives: The Avant-Garde


Leiden is not a very well known place today but in 1917 it was very signifigant when architect and painter Theo van Deosburg formed a new movement there; The De Stilj a Dutch art movement which means “the style”. Of course Deosburg was not alone while forming this movement. Architect JJP Oud, designer Gerrit Rietveld,Vordemberge Gildewart,the sculptor Vantongerloo,Bart van der Leck and the painter Mondrian were some of the most important co founders.

De Stijl became the central idea of Mondrian’s paintings. While constantly and efficently using this art movement Mondrian used a new series of words to define De Stijl. Neo Plasticism term is used by the painter for the first time in the history of De Stijl. This type of art is considered as abstract among artistic communities that is also one of the reasons that ‘the new plasic art’ is a little hard to produce and understand by regular people. Publishing a magazine between 1917 and 1932 helped people to understand insights of this movement and cleared society about the theories and general qualites of this newly born form of art. Philosphy is used as a side branch to support new plastic art movement. This new form of art was so sucessful that quickly spread to other branches of art such as town architecture,fine and applied arts.

Artists of the movement was also abstract and renovalsitic; they carried this movement beyond geography and politics. The art pieces are deliberatly composed and formed depersonalized to make them universal. The idea of ‘The one should see the art not the artist’ was their centerlized aim. To simplify their works they reduced the numbers of colors that are used, they only used main colors along with black and white. The geometrical shapes and sharp assimetric designs were also frequently used while creating a piece.

To define the term ‘Futurism’ there are basically two words which are ‘speed and movement’. This is uniquely italien movement. Futurists are nationalists and political ideology of nationalism is Fascism. It was reactionary, especially reaction to more developed countries, technically, progressive, politicaly and populist movement which belongs to the right wing.It is the denial of everything like cubism, symbolism, vogueness, love of complication, the bohemienne life, decadance, degeneration and passivity which argues that the artist should be politic. The enrichment of new beauty is beauty of speed. Most important piece is Winged Victory Samothrace or Nike of Samothrace. The most important names of that movement are Boccioni who have late impressionistic style and the other one is Giacoma Balla.

Futurism was uniquely italien movement like ı said in the beginning but after Russians came up with Cubo-Futurism which can be described as a combination of French Cubism and Italian Cubism. There is so many important artists who take a place in that movement like Kasimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin, El Lissitzky, and Rodchenko.

If we analyse Malevich works, we can see that he often uses huge massive volumes like huge cubes and these are coming from the source of futurism in general. El Lissitzky’s works are also tribute cubism in general but apart of these, its more dynamic, very analytical and he uses very impressive colors. Rodchenko’s works have political content differently from others. They have dynamism of revolutionary years, expressive, solide, readable and functional.

The early 20th century, artists started to use the ‘new’ in a new sense. Something independently devoted to invention new. Artists qualified themselves unsuccesfull bourgeois taste.
According to this movement, art should be something radical, talks intelligence and it should be an object of mind and knowledge. It can be assumed a radical break. Its revolutionary. Its also the age of politics. For instance, in 1911 there was Chinese revolution, in 1917 there was Russian revolution and in 1923 there was Turkish revolution. From 1900 to 1930, modernizm in art started by Picasso, by cubizm and various artists in avant-gardeism.
Paris was still the heart of art but the heart of the Avant-Garde was Europe.

In Italy, there are Futurism (1919); in Russia, there are Suprematism (1915) and constructivism (1917); in Zurich and Paris, there are Dadaism and in Germany, there is Bauhaus (1919). I want to mention them all briefly.

Futurism is something extremely new. It gives us the spirit of future. Suprematism is an art movement focused on fundemental geometric forms which founded by Kasimir Malevich. Constructivism is a theory of knowledge that argues that humans generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas. Dadaism is a rejection o cubism and all types of art. It is the french word of hobby-horse. This movement also against bourgeoise taste, nationalism, war, reason and logic that conveyed to the war. İt contains collage, photomontage, assemblage and readymades. To sum up, aim of Dadaism is to destruct existing art styles. The founding father is Marcel Duchamp.