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Sandra L. Tatman

American architectural competition held in 1922 by the Chicago Tribune newspaper for its new corporate headquarters. The competition changed American views of European modernism and the course of American Skyscraper architecture. The 1922 Chicago Tribune Competition’s call for competitors attracted more than 260 architects from 23 countries with the offer of a $50,000 prize for the winning design. Although the company may have issued this competition as a way of attracting attention to its newspaper, competitors from around the world, drawn by what was in 1922 an astronomical sum, submitted entries that varied from the very traditional revival styles to cutting edge European modernism. In the end, the winners were Americans John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood (Howells & Hood) with their neo-Gothic skyscraper influenced by the Tour de Beurre in Rouen Cathedral (see Rouen, §IV, 1). However, the second place entry from Saarinen family, §1 of Finland took America by storm, encouraging the architect to immigrate to the United States. In fact, some American architects and critics, such as Louis Sullivan, preferred the Saarinen design to the Howells & Hood tower, and Saarinen’s stepped-back tower with little applied decoration certainly influenced later skyscraper design (...

Article

Ellen G. Landau

(b Allegheny, PA, May 11, 1894; d New York, NY, April 1, 1991).

American dancer and choreographer. Graham is widely considered a major pioneer and exponent of modernism. Her collaboration with American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who designed costumes and sets for the Martha Graham Dance Company from 1935 to 1966, and the extraordinary photographs of her in performance by Imogen Cunningham, Soichi Sunami (1885–1971), Philippe Halsman (1906–79) and especially Barbara Morgan, link Graham’s revolutionary accomplishments in dance to experimentation in the visual arts. During the late 1930s and 1940s, her belief in the ability of dance to tap the power of myth and the unconscious anticipated and was analogous to the tenets of Abstract Expressionism.

Brought up in California the daughter of a physician, in 1916 at age 22, Graham began studying dance under Ruth St Denis (1879–1968) and Ted Shawn (1891–1972). Ten years later she formed the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance in New York. While her own performances were initially based on the Denishawn style, by ...

Article

Adam M. Thomas

(b Minden, Jan 15, 1902; d Austin, TX, Dec 8, 1985).

American painter of German birth. Kelpe moved to Hannover to study art and architecture in 1919. In the early 1920s he was exposed to the leading abstract trends in European modernism, including Suprematism and Constructivism. Kelpe developed an abstract painting vocabulary characterized by geometric order, hard edges, overlapping planes, and interpenetrating shapes before immigrating to the United States in 1925. He eventually settled in Chicago, where he had his first solo exhibition in 1932 at the Little Gallery. In the late 1920s Kelpe applied found objects to his paintings, as exemplified by Construction with Lock and Key (1927; Washington, DC, Hirshhorn). He abandoned such constructions by the early 1930s in favor of integrating in paint recognizable gears, wheels and machine parts into his abstract compositions. Machine Elements (1934; Newark, NJ, Mus.), with its stacked semi-abstract machine and factory forms, is representative of his work during the period. Kelpe worked for the Public Works of Art Project in ...

Article

Danielle Peltakian

(b Brooklyn, NY, Oct 27, 1877; d White Plains, NY, July 13, 1949).

American painter, illustrator and lithographer. As an organizer of the Armory Show (1913) alongside Arthur B. Davies, he played an integral role in unveiling European modernism to the USA. While he painted landscapes of Maine, Cézanne-inspired still lifes and a series based on the American West, his expressive portraits of circus and vaudeville performers remain his best-known works.

In 1901, he trained at the Académie Colarossi in Paris, but soon transferred to the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich where he studied under Barbizon painter Heinrich von Zügel (1850–1941) until 1903. Upon returning to New York in 1903, he worked as an illustrator for publications such as Life and Puck, exhibited at the Salmagundi Club (1905) and organized artists’ balls for the Kit Kat Club. Working in an Impressionist style, he participated with Robert Henri in the Exhibition of Independent Artists (1910)....

Article

Deborah A. Middleton

(b Brooklyn, New York, Aug 11, 1927; d Pound Ridge, NY, Jan 24, 2006).

American art historian and museum curator. Rubin has been credited with defining the historical narrative of modern art through his writings and exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the 1970s, and 1980s. The vision of founding director Alfred H(amilton) Barr to establish the Museum of Modern Art as a global authority in modern paintings and sculpture was continued during Rubin’s tenure as Director of the Department of Painting and Sculpture, Museum of Modern Art (1973–88).

William was one of three sons of a successful New York textile merchant. Rubin grew up in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York and attended Fieldstone School where he interned on special museum education projects with teacher and mentor Victor D’Amico who was also Director of Education at the Museum of Modern Art. While at Columbia University he joined the military during World War II to serve in the American occupation forces in Europe. Upon completing his undergraduate degree in ...

Article

Deborah A. Middleton

(b California, Feb 24, 1919; d April 17, 2010).

American architect. An important San Francisco-based architect, Warnecke emerged as the forerunner of contextual modernism in the early 1950s. Contextualism aimed to create a sense of place through a humanistic design approach informed by the pre-existing context of the building’s specific site and the more general locale. This approach was in contrast to pure Modernism, which emphasized non-contextual abstraction without explicit references to architectural history. Spatial volumes, rather than mass and solidity, were highlighted, and buildings evidenced a structural regularity and absence of ornament.

Warnecke was apprenticed in Oakland, CA, to his father who introduced him to the classical Beaux-Arts tradition of architectural design. His formal education in art and engineering at Stanford University was followed by a Masters in Architecture in 1942 from Harvard University, studying under Walter Gropius . Bernard Maybeck and Arthur Brown . worked with Warnecke’s father and became early influences, discouraging Warnecke’s adoption of the Modernist approach to design which dominated mainstream American architecture during the post-World War II era. ...