Thursday, 20 October 2011


'Modernisation, modernity and modernism - three concepts around which though about the modern world and its culture has tended to revolve. In the definition of the first two there is rarely much disagreement. Modernisation refers to a range of technological, economic and political processes associated with the Industrial Revolution and its aftermath; modernity to the social conditions and modes of experience that are seen as the effects of these processes. On the meaning of modernism, however, agreement is less easily secured. In general usage it means the property or quality of being modern or up-to-date. Yet it also tends to imply a type of position or attitude - one characterised by specific forms of response towards both modernisation and modernity.'

Movements in Modern Art, Harrison, Charles, 1997, Page 6

I interpret this to mean that the term modernism has a very broad definition. It encompasses thoughts of modernisation, which relates to the Industrial Revolution, and modernity, referring to the social aspects experienced in relation to this revolution. I feel that modernism describes art which responds to what was up-to-date at that time, whether it be the presence of something or the absence of something else. From this piece of writing alone, I understand that there is a lot of debate with the definition of modernism. One reason for this may be because the term modern surely can be used at any time, not only between the late eighteenth century and the early twentieth century. During modernism, there were many different art movements, spatialism being quite a remote example.

'Spatialism combines ideas from the Dada movement, Tachism and Concrete art.[1] Fontana wanted to create art for "a new age" that would show the "real space of the world." What separated the movement from Abstract Expressionism was the concept of eradicating the art of the easel and paint, and try to capture movement and time as the main tenets in the work.' - Online, 02.11.2011

Lucio Fontana is an example of a modernist artist. He was an Italian painter, sculptor and theorist. During the 1940's and 50's he pioneered the Italian art movement, Spatialism. 

Fontana founded the Movimento Spaziale (Spatial Movement) and worked alongside other artists to produce the Primo Manifesto dello Spazialismo (First Manifesto of Spatialism), which was followed by a second and third. He rejected the ideas that we should perceive an illusion of space on a canvas, and wanted to create a literal space. He believed that traditional, conventional Western art used the painted canvas as a window to look 'into' another world. He criticized this by exposing canvas's where the viewer literally looked into the canvas.

'Ideas are not scorned, they germinate in society and are then expressed by philosophers and artists
(from the Manifesto Blanco, Buenos Aires, 1946)'*

Fontanas' slashed canvas's became strong statements to transform society's view on art at that time. They directed the viewer to appreciate the importance of 'art making' and not just the final piece. He made a series of works in Terracotta, where he would try to leave the clay as unshaped as possible, capturing the purity of natures 'stuff'. After slashing the clay, the finished piece was to reveal nature effectively as it is, rather than imitating it's appearance.

Fontana is also known for being one of the first artists to use neon light within his art work. He had an interest in television and comprised pieces of art with sight, sound, lighting and movement. His works adapted the way the gallery space was used and had a great deal of importance in the later movement of performance art. I have a huge interest in environmental art, and I know it encompasses substantial influence from Spatialism. - Online

LITTLE, Stephen, 4.10.2004 ,Isms, Understanding Art - Book

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