Contextual studies 10: Other Disciplines in Early Modernism


1. What are the characteristics of, and ideas behind, Modernist art?

  1. Relevance to contemporary age – modernity and universalism

2. Subject matter – form becomes more important artwork as autonomous object

3. Materials become part of content – use of new and non-art materials

4. New attitude to disciplines

*Finished work reflects and doesn’t disguise the discipline

*Boundaries between disciplines blurred– artists working across them



With each discipline ask:

What makes it Modernist?

What are the parallels with Modernist art?


2. How do those characteristics relate to other disciplines?


All have a different perspective or view with industrialised and cropped in appearance. The images are not about narrative they are about line and shape, using light and shade. Images can be confusion causing questioning and trying to work out what is happening within them. The artist’s are not interested in the people, they are interesting in the abstract composition of the image.

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946)

Man Ray (1890-1976)

Edward Weston (1886-1958)

André Kertész (1894-1985)

Umbo (Otto Maximilian Umbehr) (1902-1980)

Tina Modotti (1896-1942)

Hans Finsler (1891-1972)

Florence Henri (1893-1982)


Watched to two films:

Fernand Leger (1881-1955) Ballet Mecanique, 1923/4

Hans Richter (1888-1976) Rhythm 21, 1921

These films were different from other films at the time as they don’t make sense and are hallucinatory. They are based on fayre ground mechanics, looking at things upside down aerial views of familiar objects that were moving but looking quite abstract.



Refer to text: Le Cubusier/Pierre Jeanneret: Five points to new architecture, 1926.

Le Corbusier is talking about five major points and on of the points are new ways of building supports within a building. The one on the left is one he’s talking about and the one on the right is a traditional model. He’s saying that building supports at regular intervals, you can get away from the idea of walls themselves having to form the support. He also talking about how the supports with raise the building off the ground to take it away from the damp. It also creates a space underneath, so in some of his buildings the first floor is quite high and underneath he used for cars. He says that if you’ve got this freedom for structure, you’ve also got freedom in designing the façade as the facade can be anything you want it to be. It is also possible to have long horizontal windows, he says the advantage of horizontal windows is that they allow more light and can fit in narrow spaces. He says having a flat roof is an advantage as a roof garden is then possible with more integration from the outside inside.


Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard Jeanneret) (1887-1915)

This is a design of his from 1929. It is raised with a flat roof and plenty of space underneath. Its a similar style to the Bauhaus due to straight lines, very little detail, very minimal with no decoration.

The characteristics of the house consist of small rooms giving way for the lounge area and bedroom and huge hallway etc. There is not much decoration, it is very spare and the aesthetic comes from its function. What is different about it is that it is not set out in the normal design that a traditional house is, so certain room were not as you would expect them. It was experimental in the way that it was designed.

Main points from set text:

He talks of a completely new way of building which is very modernist, its not about just making little changes its a completely new way of looking at building.


The futurists are from Italy and there idea was out with the old in with the new.

Luigi Russolo (1885-1947), Awakening of a City, c1916

Main points from set text:

Luigi Russolo designed a completely new instrument. This soundtrack caused an outrage when it was released in 1914 and the response was varied. Some people laughed at it, some people found it disgusting and some pelted him with vegetables. His aim was to be experimental, he said for centuries people had been listening to these symphony orchestras. It was a city awakening. These weren’t imitating or recording sounds, he made the instruments make those sounds so he was quite skilful in some ways, his idea was to move people on. He wasn’t making something that was nice on the ears he was being experimental.


One thing that all of these had in common was that modernist artist’s such as musicians, photographers and architecture was that they weren’t trying to be popular. They were trying to push boundaries and push things on by doing something different.

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