Classics/Art 329 Lectures 19-21

Lecture 19:  The Road to Surrealism and Dario Argento

A. Symbolists and Decadents- in France and Belgium ca. 1895

    1. Sugar, opium, absinthe- influence of Pre-Raphaelite Romanticism

    2. Search for a higher reality- Josephin Peladan

      3. Melancholia

    4. Fin de siecle weariness

    5. Gustave Moreau [view an image with two of Moreau's works: Salome and the Head of John the Baptist & Jupiter and Semele]

    6. Fernand Khnopff  [view an image of Khnopff's The Caresses of the Sphinx, 1896]

sphinx.gif (33141 bytes)

    7. Jean Delville- Orpheus 1893

B. DADA- anti-art art movement ca. 1912 [view an example of DADA]

    1. Pessimism in a hopelessly insane world

    2. Nihilism- all art is dead

    3. Marcel Duchamp- Dry Art and Readymades, Topsy Turvy Physics, The New Use is Useless!
         Marcel Duchamp's Bicycle Wheel
      Marcel Duchamp's Bicycle Wheel, based on his
     1912 creation, known as a Ready-Made

C. Surrealism- fusion of Symbolism, Freud and Dada in the 1920s

    1. Symbolist Elements- inward search for truth, nostalgia, exoticism, anti-material world,  pro-dream, innocence of childhood

    2. Dada Elements- Radical freedom of images, timeless, sizeless space

    3. Freudian Elements- sex, keys to unlock inner truths, visual exorcism of aberrations, nightmare qualities, significance of dreams and childhood

    4. André Breton and the Surrealist Manifesto of 1924

    5. Giorgio De Chirico- ca. 1912, pre-Surrealist

    dechiri1.gif (26179 bytes)

Delights of a Poet 1913 by Di Chirico-- Early Surrealism [view an image of Di Chirico's Delights of an Poet, 1913]

6. Salvador Dali- anal, erotic, obscene, timeless, airless, obsessive fears; Surrealism and Hitchcock [view images depicting Dali's work]

    7. Paul Delvaux- Belgian Surrealist, 1940s [view an image of Devaux's The Echo, 1943]

    8. René Magritte- Belgian Surrealist, 1940s, influence on The Beatles [view an image of Magritte's Threatening Weather, 1928]

D. The Surrealist Cinema- Dario Argento's Inferno (1980)


Lecture 20: Remembering the '60s

A. Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) - influence on the 1960s [view an image of Paul Gauguin's, Spirit of the Dead Watching, 1892]

   1. French Post-Impressionism

   2. Synthetism- combine expressive qualities of line and color with simplified or exaggerated depiction of reality

    3. Sensations perceived by color

   4. Admiration of primitive- saturation, color

   5. A meter of green is greener than a centimeter of green

   6. Stretch reality into deformation

B. America in the 1960s [view an image of 1960s pop icons The Beatles, Timothy Leary, and Alan Ginsberg]

   1. Drugs- Timothy Leary, mind expansion, LSD

   2. Guru- Buddhism popular but why?

   3. World beyond this world is better

   4. Allen Ginsberg and the Beats of the 1950s- HOWL

      a. Wallace Berman

      b. Funk Art- collage, sick, bizarre, sexual, rough, shoddy

      c. Anti-commercialism catches on!

   5. Psychedelic Age- The Beatles, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

   6. Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye

   7. Vietnam Generation- polarization, the need for escape

C. Abstract Expressionism- ca. 1910

   1. Offshoot of German Expressionism

   2. Revival after World War II

   3. Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)- pioneer

          Panel For Edwin R. Campbell, No. 4 1914    
          Panel For Edwin R. Campbell, No. 4 1914

          a. Color, line, shapes

          b. Unconscious governs 2nd world of subconscious

D. Post-Painterly Abstraction-

   1. Jasper Johns (born 1930)- Target with 4 Faces (1955)

   2. Hard edged, disciplined line, color saturated, geometric

   3. Primary colors at full strength

   4. Atraditional- condensation and refinement of pure form

          a. What is an object?

          b. Is it still the object if it isn't used as such

   5. Not an explosion of passion

   6. Color-Field Painting- Ellsworth Kelly (born 1923) [view an image of Kelly's Red, Blue and Green, 1963]

E. Pop Art

   1. Neo-Dada

   2. Roy Lichtenstein (born 1923) - satire of modern life

      BLAM, Roy Lichtenstein, 1962. Oil on canvas, Size: 68 x 80 inches
      BLAM, Roy Lichtenstein, 1962. Oil on canvas, Size: 68 x 80 inches

   3. Andy Warhol (1928-1987)- question social values

        a. A society that cares for the container not the substance

        b. We package commercial things- medium becomes the message, Marshall McLuhan

        c. Brainwashing- color repetition anesthetizes, dehumanizes

F. Yellow Submarine and The Beatles (1968)

   1. Mix of Pop Art and Surrealism

   2. Heavy influence of Rene Magritte, Tom Wesselman,

        Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein


F. The Bangles- IN YOUR ROOM 1988- rock video [view image of the front cover]

     1. 1960s retro look- Psychedelia, Op Art, Pop Art

     2. Influence of the Beatles- Susanna Hoffs= Paul, Michael Steele= George, Debbi Peterson= Ringo, Vicki Peterson=John Lennon

G. Austin Powers- Mike Meyers A.D. 2000- mocking retro


Yellow Submarine (England, 1968)

     Released at the height of the Vietnam War and the flower power movement, this charming cartoon could be seen as an allegory about the peace movement and its desire to overcome the dreaded Blue Meanies who might be Viet Cong or members of the military industrial complex in our own society, depending on your viewpoint. But most people just saw it as delightful escapism influenced by the popular art movements of the time.

    In commercial art the Surrealism of Salvador Dali and the Belgian artist Rene Magritte was all the rage, allowing images that were fantastic and sometimes scatological or just childishly sexy to be viewed. Juxtaposition was key-- putting things next to each other which could never exist in the real world.

    The highly saturated color schemes of Ellsworth Kelly and Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol are used throughout, with emphasis on hard edges and flatnessof surface even in the rendering of human figures. The flickering optical effects that dazzle and delight come from the influence of artists such as Bridget Riley and the movement of Op Art which was so big in the sixties. The Museum of Modern Art in New York had opened a show in 1965 called The Responsive Eye in which kinetic effects suggesting movement were featured. As certain colors and forms are arranged the eye is unable to focus on them and the canvas produces a hallucinatory vision of movement. Riley started doing these intense visual experiences in color about the time Yellow Submarine was being conceived and the pulsating optical effects in the film are markedly Riley-esque.

    The age of peace and love reflected by the popularizing of Buddhist tenets by poets such as Alan Ginsberg can be seen as well as the influence of the sitar, instrument popularized by George Harrison after studying with India's Ravi Shankar and learning transcendental meditation from the Maharishi Yogi. For the Vietnam generation no matter whether you were a Hawk or a Dove about the war, Yellow Submarine was fun, a wonderful relic of the psychedelic age, of Surrealism, Op Art, Color-Field Painting and Comic Book Art.

    The Beatles were heavily influenced by LSD trips and studies of eastern religion. Their lyrics which emphasize heightened senses, a state of Nirvana, unlikely combinations of words (yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye), the slipping and sliding of the music as if it is melting away as you listen, the Dada-like sense of anarchy in many lyrics, the ambiguities that result from a drug trip (Iam he as you are he as you are me and we are all together), the confusions of time and space, speeding up and slowing down reality. More than any other artists of this period, they put their stamp on an age as both trendsetters and followers of fashion.

    The film was the brainchild of animator Heinz Edelman and Toronto based director George Dunning, an alumnus of television commercials. Listen carefully to the lyrics of the songs for hidden meanings and deliberate ambiguities. There are wonderful surreal turns of phrase that the Beatles are famous for. Over the years comments about "Eleanor Rigby keeping her face in a jar by the door" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" have stayed in my mind as lovely and evocative poetry.



(Optional Lecture, Time Permitting:)

Lecture 21: Secrets of  Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David

A. Object Power

    1. Objects are alive and are all powerful in the universe

    2. Objects secretly know and control the destinies of  humans

    3. Objects precipitate interconnecting dramas within dramas

    4. Eyeglasses are extremely dangerous

    5. Examples: rare chinese gum, hoses [view an image of the Seinfeld cast]

B. Crisscrossing

    1. Definition- one situation's characteristics are found in another unrelated situation

    2. Example:

        a. Elaine hates when store merchants water the sidewalk with a hose

        b. But the removal of the hose triggers comic tragedy for George who cannot put out a fire in his car

        c. The restored presence of the hose leads to comic tragedy for Elaine who is caused by the hose to seem to be a woman of easy virtue

C. The Theme of Insanity

    1. Sane people seem insane but the insane seem sane

    2. George Costanza seems insane but isn't

    3. Lloyd Braun seems sane but isn't

    4. Constant references to craziness and insanity

D. Parallel Universe

    1. The comedic universe is governed by its own laws

    2. Edge of  Surrealism- universe that looks like our own but behaves differently

E. Obscure References--"Inside Jokes"

    1. Raymond Massey- compared to Kramer

        a. Massey was considered the most distinguished actor in Hollywood

        b. Oswald Cabal, leader of the future world; Abraham Lincoln

        c. Kramer is an idiot

    2. Jacques Tati- model for Michael Richards

        a. Mantle coat draped over shoulders, and affectatious pipe

        b. French pantomimist and Surreal filmmaker of 1950s and 1960s

        c. Physical comedy and body posture- prop comedy with rugs and paintings


    If time permits in this class (and it usually doesn't) I add a film showing to the course of my documentary movie FORGOTTEN LIVES. For the final examination, if we show the film, you should be able to provide information on the following individuals featured in the film: Fred Stone, Heinrich Schliemann, Frank Calvert, and Annette Kellerman. Check with your GAT or Dr. Soren if you are in doubt about this material being included.

Forgotten Lives collage of images