“Make-it New”: Modernist Visions

About the Tour

This audio tour introduces undergraduate students to representative artistic achievements from some of the most inventive decades of Modern art in the 20th century. On this tour, students will encounter visual evidence of the Modernist project to “Make it New”— Ezra Pound’s plea to a generation of artists and writers to reject “realistic” and academic representation, as practiced in the 19th century, in favor of drastically new forms of expression in the 20th. After passing through a 1900 Paris subway entrance in MoMA’s Sculpture Garden, students consider themes of dislocation, fragmentation, alienation, gender, and the consequences of war as expressed by Modern artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Max Beckmann, Jose Clemente Orozco, and Marcel Duchamp. Orozco’s “Dive Bomber and Tank” as well as Beckmann’s “Family Portrait” work well with a discussion of World War I poetry, the consequences of war and the challenges of making peace in the 20th century. Two Cubist paintings by Picasso and a self-portrait by Frida Kahlo support discussions of identity, gender, and issues of fragmentation and alienation preoccupying 20th century poets and novelists, such as T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf. Duchamp’s sculpture or assembled “readymade,” “Bicycle Wheel” enhance students’ understanding of collage and assemblage in poetry, from Imagist poets, such as H.D. and Amy Lowell, to avant-garde and radical poets, such as Gertrude Stein. The objects on this tour can also serve as points of comparison between literature and art at the turn of the 19th century and the post-Modern experimentation of the latter half of the 20th century. Finally, the tour invites students to consider the relevance of Modernist work to artists and writers of today.

Annotated Bibliography of Printed Resources

Blondel, Alain. Tamara de Lempicka: Art Deco Icon. London: Royal Academy of the Arts, 2004.

Eliot, T.S. The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Draft Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound. Ed. with an Introduction by Valerie Eliot. New York: Harcourt/Harvest, 1971.

Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: Viking, 1964 [1916].

Marcus, Jane. Languages of Patriarchy. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1987.

Rubin, William. Picasso and Portraiture: Representation and Transformation. New York: Thames and Hudson in Association with the Museum of Modern Art, 1996.

Seelig, Thomas and Urs Stahel. The Ecstasy of Things: From the Functional Object to the Fetish in 20th Century Photography. Gottingen: Steidl Verlag, 2005.

Stein, Gertrude. Paris France. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1996.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Edited with an Annotation by Bonnie Kime Scott. New York: Harcourt, 2003 [1925].

Zamora, Martha. Frida Kahlo: The Brush of Anguish. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1990.

Sites: The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

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