Modernism Essay

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This essay will analyse two examples which explore how modernism was characterized by the movements of Dadaism and Surrealism in response to changing social and political conditions. Modernism is a style or movement in the arts that aims to depart significantly from classical and traditional forms.1 Dadaism expressed artists cynicism about the conventional ideas of form, rejecting traditional beauty concepts by producing anti-art.2 Dadaism was in response to the negative reaction to the horrors of World War I, rejecting reason and logic. The surrealism movement sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind.3 Surrealism was created in response to Dada’s activities during World War I. The examples are a ready-made piece by Marcel Duchamp entitled Fountain (1917/64) and the film by Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel entitled Un Chien Andalou (1929). These two examples show how modernism was characterized by the key principles of the surrealism and dadaism movements. Modernism aimed to break the bounds of inherited tradition calling for new definitions by breaking the boundaries of tradition, new practices by rejecting aesthetics and new forms with its lack of meaning.4 Ultimately this lead to the breaking down of barriers and traditions within art allowing no one to define what art truly is.

Modernism broke the boundaries of traditional art by challenging art’s definition, being characterized by movements such as Dadaism and Surrealism. Dadaism was a ‘sentimental resistance to the times’5 putting forward a new art from which new ideals were created. Duchamp through this created his ready-made piece which depicts a urinal repositioning it to look like his title of fountain adding the ‘R.Mutt 1917’ tag. This created...

... middle of paper ... of tradition. Furthermore Dali and Buñuel following the Surrealism movement also broke the boundaries of tradition however they aimed to achieve new ways of seeing which didn’t stifle our imagination.20 Both artists no longer wanted to follow traditional art rules and definitions in the creation of their works. Rejecting the forms of fine art both artists rejected aesthetics in the formation of their works as the passion for the irrational was more important for Dali and Buñuel whereas Duchamp wanted to deskill traditional art to depict his anti-art message.. Their pieces depicted the art-for-art-sake message which rejected the belief that art had to mean anything. 21 The changing social/political traditions called for changes in art with the Surrealism and Dadaism movements helping to create Modernism which called for new forms, practices and definitions of art.
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