Understanding Modern Art
Featured Speaker: Professor Phillip Chan
In this series, Professor Chan will present an overview of modern art, from inception to present day. For many, the terms and concepts described in the lecture summaries will be new and elusive. With careful attention, you will emerge from the series with a clearer understanding ofmodern art that will significantly enhance your appreciation and enjoyment of the subject.
July 13: Understanding Modern Art via Foundational Drawing
Understanding the modernist visual language is fundamental to the creative productivity of contemporary artists, yet in most art schools the teaching of beginning drawing is still grounded in the rendering techniques of nineteenth-century academic art. This lecture will feature that which is appropriate for the modernist visual language.
July 20: The Foundation of Formal Modernism: From Cezanne to Picasso
The importance of Impressionism was its move from the descriptive representation of the physical world to a subjective expression of human experiences in the world. Cezanne followed suit by gathering those subjective sensations into a structural foundation to articulate what might be considered “Formal Impressionism.” Picasso then sharpened and transferred the flatness of that structural foundation into the linguistic nature of two-dimensional art. This assertion of flatness reoriented painting’s ontological nature in opposition to the three-dimensional illusionistic representation. As a consequence, the old “subject matter” became the mere “object matter” for the creative potential of consciousness. Imagination thereby became the true “subject matter” of human consciousness.
July 27: From Hermetic Cubism to Synthetic Cubism to Constructivism
From re-presentation to re-production to production, the standard narrative of the development of Modern Art moved from Analytic Cubism, through Synthetic Cubism, arriving at Constructivism, which led to the destiny of geometric abstraction. There is, however, an alternative intellectual narrative for this formalist movement. From 1911 to the early 1920s, the Cubist languages led to multiple diversities. Of particular importance were the triangular articulations of the spatial (re-presentation) of Hermetic or late Analytic Cubism, the re-productive construction of Synthetic Cubism, and the Synthetic production of Constructivism. All three were manifestations of the principle of re-presenting the human experiences of the world in contrast to the illusionistic representation of nineteenth-century Academic Art. These and other linguistic variations of Cubism were multiple reflections of the deeper struggle between Dialectical Idealism and Dialectical Materialism, which in turn were expressions of the fundamental struggle between Romanticism’s liberation of the human spirit and the Industrial Revolution’s liberation of the material world.
August 3: Expressive Modernism: From Antithesis to Synthesis
The previous lectures were focused on Formal Modernism’s development of a new visual language antithetical to the descriptive language of Renaissance art, which then enabled the modernist turn that facilitated the full flowering of the Romantic desire for the liberation of the human spirit. Because of its nineteenth-century exhaustion, myth became an instrument of nostalgia rather than liberation. Consequently, a new language was necessary to express the deeper human interiority that resulted from a new human condition of the industrial age. The story of Modernism, therefore, would not be complete without retracing the parallel development of Expressive Modernism that had originally motivated the Romantic impulse for its rebellion. The dissonance between Expressive Modernism and Formal Modernism remained in dialectic opposition until post-World War II, when the linguistic development of Formal Modernism achieved union with the original Romantic spirit of modernity, resulting in the synthesis in Abstract Expressionism.
Born in China, Phillip Chan came to the United States at the age of 10. He lived for several years in Cleveland and then spent his formative years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Receiving his MFA from UC Berkeley in 1976, he taught for 14 years as an itinerant teacher throughout America. In 1992, he settled in Ohio, teaching at Youngstown State until his retirement in 2011. Currently living in San Diego, Chan is a frequent contributor and previous lecturer at Osher and remains a committed and active artist. Examples of his art and earlier writings can be found on his website www.philchanart.com.
Coordinator: Steve Clarey
7/13/2022 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
7/20/2022 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
7/27/2022 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
8/3/2022 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Included with membership, no registration required.