Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Have had a bit of a break on the 'isms'. mainly because i've been getting ready to go back to school - but i have still been heading off into web world in a random sort of look into cubism.  this will probably be my last 'ism'  for a while..other things are calling particularly some work on BAO ..and some work on 'teaching and learning'.so here goes.

10 things about cubism:
1.Denial of classical conception of beauty
2.geometrical analytical approach probably a direct influene of Cezanne who is said to have said "....artists should treat mature in terms of the cylinder, the sphere and the cone..."
3.rejects the concept of perspective asa a sign system taken from the Renaissance.  (I particularly love this, it relates very much to the post structuralist stuff we teach advanced kids at school. In other words if you don't have the 'language' you don't have the meaning.)
4.the cubists looked to 'primitive' art for the new 'language'
5.There were different stages of cubism
6.Analytic(c1907 - 12) - pulling things apart, showing objects as the mind sees them (not the eye)
7.Synthetic (1913 - 1920's) -combining objects, reducing things, collage, limited neutral palette
8.Nice quote by Picasso "Painting is a blind man's proffession"
9. Another nice quote by Picasso - "It takes a long time to become young"
10.Loved collaging with found objects - brought collage into the circle of fine art.

Picasso 1921

Picasso  - the Guitar player - 1908

Oh yeah ,I forgot to mention the love guitars and mandolins!

Reading about cubism has been a lot like reading about the pre-raphaelites - I have given myself permission to really like it ...like I did when I first saw a 'Picasso' (in a book of course) probably when i was about 14....and thought it was so clever...and then I sort of moved past it...good to back and think things are nice just because they are.
Braque 1910 - guitars with flute

Friday, January 14, 2011


Apart from learning about the "isms" I remember mentioning that I wanted to improve my vocabulary this year. Well, I recently found this site while I was doing a general blog search for stuff to show the kids and fell in love with it.
 One list I found particularly humorous (and relevent considering the categorising aspect of the 'isms' project) was this list of 'names for names':

acronym word formed from initial letters of another word

allonym other person's name used by an author

ananym name written backward; often used as synonym

anonym person whose name is not given; pseudonym

antonym word whose meaning is the opposite of a given word

aptronym name that suits its owner

autonym a writer's real name; work published under writer's own name

caconym wrongly derived name

cohyponym word which is one of multiple hyponyms of another word

cryptonym secret name

dionym name containing two parts or terms

eponym personal name from which another name is derived

euonym a pleasing or beautiful name

euonymous appropriately named

euphonym euphonious synonym

exonym name for a town or country in a foreign language

heteronym word having same spelling but different sound and meaning

homonym words having the same sound but different meanings

hypernym word representing a class of words or things

hyponym term which is a member of a larger class

isonym word having the same derivation or form as another

meronym word whose relation to another is a part to the whole

metonymy figurative use of word to name an attribute of its subject

metronymy system of naming after the mother's or female line

onymous bearing the author’s name

paedonymic name taken from one's child

paranym euphemism; word whose meaning altered to conceal evasion

paronym word from same root or having same sound as another

patronym name derived from father's name

poecilonym synonym

polyonym name consisting of several words

pseudonym fictitious name used by an author

retronym new name as modification of older term used alone

synonym word whose meaning is the same as another word

tautonym taxonomic name in which genus and species are the same

teknonymy the naming of the parent from the child

toponym place name derived from geographical feature

trionym name consisting of three words

Wow! I hardly knew any of these!!! but i am already getting ready to put them into the vernacular....especially retronym, caconym, and polyonym!!!! And I can just see myself going back to school and telling the kids we are now going to talk about 'poecilonyms' instead of 'synonyms'. 

But seriously i do get anoyed when people define a word by what it is equal to or what it is not equal to.  I am coming up against this with the 'isms' and it seems the 'nyms' are no different.  I have the utmost respect for the composers of dictionaries.  But it does make for interesting thinking.....?

What to to?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


My heart is going out to everyone in Queensland.

I am sharing a photo of my husband's family.  They were farmer's around Leongatha in Victoria in the 40's 50's and 60's.  Bill is the little grub sandwiched between his mother - Jess and his grandmother Myrtle on the front seat, with two spinster aunts hovering on the backseat for good measure. I think you can just see his brother poking out from amongst the bountifulness of the aunts while their father Ron was no doubt taking the photo. (circa 1962)
I love this photo especially as we only came across when clearing out the family home after
Ron passed away 3 years ago. There were hundreds of slides and Bill painstakingly went through every one and scanned the ones he loved the most. It has so many wonderful aspects to it:  Myrtle's profile - such a wonderful pose, Jess's generous, relaxed smile and her army coat but particularly Bill's cheeky grin escaping from between mum and nanna. Not to mention the WWII jeep and the profile of the cows on the hill in the background, wondering what on earth is going on. 
It always makes me smile and I hope it brings a little bit a smile to you right now.
Take care everyone!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Classicism/Neo classicism

So far the most confusing (not that the other two have been straight forward). It has been very difficult to get a list of facts that don’t refer to an alliance with or reaction to some other ‘ism’, for example, the general consensus is that romanticism  was a reaction classicism (19th century) and mannerism was a reaction to classicism (16th century).

So instead of worrying about it too much I am just going to do classicism very quickly .....here goes

10 pieces of information

1)From classical antiquity – Ancient Greek and Roman Art – architecture (remember Ionic, doric Corinthian columns from Ancient History) . Adopted the idea of the golden section/triangle from the Egyptians.

2)Predominately associated with the Renaissance – 16th and 17th Century – (technically this should be 'neo classicism' but alas is often considered the 'height of classicism')




6)Geometry/grids (golden triangle)

7) The pre Raphaelites were Neo Classicists.

8) Therefore Raphael highlights the type of Art know as Classicism/Neo Classicism during the Renaissance that rekindled the appreciation of draftsman ship, composition and restraint.

Raphael's - the crucifixtion (c 15010)

highlighting 'classic' composition based on golden triangle and pentagrams

9) The European ‘Academies’ highly valued Raphael as an example of the classical ideal. In fact he was even valued over Michelangelo who was considered too emotional.

10)Popular use of the term ‘classic’ or ‘classical’ has interesting connotations. The implication is that there is some inherently good/better value attributed to art described as classical.

Artists include –Raphael, Nicolas Poussin, Charles Le Brun

Poussin - Midas and Bacchus

Le brun - Alexander in Babylon

So what is next?........CUBISM.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


10 pieces of information:

1) Valued aesthetic elements of art over moral or social themes (no conceptual art here folks)

2) A reaction to British morality, Victorian ideals and Industrialisation

3) Art for Art’s Sake – iconic phrase first used by Walter Pater (1867)

4) Blue and White dinner ware(decorative arts)

5) Nature – flowers and birds (decorative arts )

6 )Whistler /Ruskin trial http://blogs.princeton.edu/wri152-3/rpower/archives/001951.html

The guilty painting

(interesting in relation to Ronnie’s comment on the last post regarding the weight of Greenberg’s influence in the American scene of the 1950’s.)

7)Here is another interesting account of the Whistler/Ruskin trial http://www.loyno.edu/~history/journal/Landry.htm

– particularly interesting because it gives four ‘tenets’ of the movement which basically states that artists and their visions are superior to everyone else in society and therefore their only duty is to create art and therefore they can distort what they are representing if they want to.

8) Oscar Wilde was a promoter of the aesthetic movement

9) The Aesthetic dress movement grew out of the artists desire to paint medieval knights and ladies. The artists models and wives started wearing the less restricting clothes. This was part of what was known as the “dress reform”of the 1870’s which was trying to get woman out of corsets and into bloomers.

Now they couldn't of done that in their Victorian finery! c 1880's

10)The pre Raphaelites are probable the best know group associated with aestheticism and the ideas discussed above.  Whistler was not a member of the pre Raphaelites but was linked to the same ideas of art for art's sake.  Whereas the P R's focused on ymbolism and religious and medieval scenes, Whistler was concerned primarily with colour. 

Artists include Rossetti, Burne Jones, Whistler, Beardsley, Millais,



Burne Jones


So that is Aestheticism in 300 words or less. 
I must admit I do love the images no matter how cliched some of them have become.
Please feel free to add anything. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Abstract Expressionism

What a place to start? I am already having doubts about doing this in alphabetical order. Obviously any movement is influenced by what has gone before it and starting with an ‘ism’ from the the 1940s/50s is somewhat putting the proverbial cart before the easel.

BUT....where do you start?

I am reminded of a friend who always reads the last pages of a novel first.....don’t ask me why....so I will plough on with list...I must admit getting to “stuckism” near the bottom is very motivating. Stuckism is definitely going to be my new saying for 2011....I just have to find out what it means.

Because I have so many ‘isms’ and such a short amount of time to get it done (I’m not kidding myself that I will have much time when I get back to work) I have worked out a loose sort of scaffold to work to:

1) 10 pieces of information (note: I am avoiding the word ‘fact’ here)

2) Prominent artists and their art

3) Creation of a timeline with all the ‘isms’ in place

Yippee! This is just like the projects I did in fourth grade – deep down I’m a primary school project sort of girl.

Abstract Expressionism

1) 10 pieces of information

• 1940’s and 1950’s – New York

• First ‘American’ art movement – called the “American Style”

• 2 types – a) action painting , b) colour field painting

• Term ‘abstract expressionism was first used by Alfred Barr in 1929 (or 1919?) for works by Wassily Kandinsky

• Robert Coates first used the term to apply to American Art in 1946

• Not so much a style as an attitude ie a revolt against conventions and a desire for spontaneous expression (how often do you think I am going to use this phrase over the next couple of weeks?)

• There were some conventions that could typify an ab ex painting though ie:

o Huge canvases

o Flatness of space

o Importance of process

o Individuality of artist is important

• New York came to be known as the centre of the art world after this movement (replacing Paris). Wow! Is this true?

• Indebted to the European Abstract painters who fled to New York during WWII – but probably most indebted to the surrealists.

• Suggestion of role in American cultural imperialism – ‘cocacolonisation’

2) Artists:

Pollock , Krasner, de Kooning (willem and Elaine), Kline, Guston, Rothko, Gorky

Bourgeois, Still, Frankenthaler etc etc





A couple of interesting quotes attributed to artists:
Elaine de Kooning - "A painting to me is primarily a  verb, not a noun, an event first and only secondarily  an image."
Still - "It's intolerable to be stopped by a frame's edge."

 would these ideas have been new in the 1940's? (time will tell)

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I am not a person for new year resolutions.  I always break them.  Pretty much like everyone else I guess. But this year I'm determinined to do a couple of things. 1) I really want to improve my vocabulary and 2) I really want to improve what I know about  art history.
So i guess these are  new year resolutions as such.  Imust admit they are pretty pathetic   after all  I only have to learn one new word or one new 'ism' and i have succeeded.  That's gotta be good.
But I'm not going to be that soft.
During the last week of term I was asking the headteacher of art at school about the pre raphaelite brotherhood (i can't remember why - just one of those random things) and she couldn't give me a clear answer as to who they were or what they stood for but she said she had a little book on "isms" and she would look it up. She did so and showed me the book (i didn't catch the author or publisher) but just a quick  look through showed me just how ignorant i am about all these so called movements.
A couple of days ago the 'ism' idea jumped at me again while i was researching some stuff for my extension class (the nsw curriculum has an element that is quite focused on post modernism/post structuralism/post colonialism/feminism etc) and while i feel fairly confident in this narrow use of the terms I would really like to see how it all fits together. I don't know if that is even possible. I suspect it is not.
not taking it too seriously...
I have decided to undertake a random look at the 'isms'
knowing it has been done before but much more capable/knowledgable/articulate people than myself
but not for any other purpose than to learn something new.
i put together a list of isms (from a number of web pages and my own knowledge):

• abstract expressionism

• aestheticism

• classicism

• neoclassicism

• cubism

• cloisonnism

• dadism

• deformalism

• existentialism

• expressionism

• formalism

• fauvism

• futurism

• humanism

• impressionism

• neo-impressionism,

• post-impressionism

• luminism

• mannerism

• maximalism

• minimalism

• ophism

• post-minimalism

• modernism,

• postmodernism

• multiculturalism

• naturalism,

• realism,

• photorealism,

• spatalism

• social realism,

• socialist realism

• stuckism

• suprematism

• romanticism

• structuralism

• post-structuralism

• surrealism

• synthetism

• vorticism

and I am going to randomly investigate each one of them! (Random in that I am going to work down the list, which is alphabetical, apart from the 'post' isms) 
Please feel free to add to the list. ...just leave me a comment and i'll be happy to include any you think need to be included.  (please don't make them up! although i'm sure that is very tempting).

So.....first cab of the rank is.....

will report back soon
cheers jane
ps Should feminism be included in a list of artist's 'isms'.   eek, i problem before I even start (but it's ok 'f' is a long, long way off). Could you more knowledgable arty folk please tell me, what you think?