Modern Art and Ideas, Unit 3: 1907–1914

Setting the Scene

1. Breaking Out: Creating a New Vision

Cubism and Futurism involved new ways of looking at and representing everyday things like the human figure and common objects, as well as ephemeral subjects like movement. To depict the world in a new way, artists devised innovative technical methods in painting, sculpture, and collage.

To experience representing a subject in a different way, break your students into groups of five or six and develop a new set of rules for writing or drawing. For example, students might specify that objects can only be drawn using geometric shapes or lines or using the side of a pencil instead of the point, or that all the sentences in a writing assignment must include a certain number of adjectives, nouns, verbs, and adverbs, or that every other letter must be written backward, or that every other word must be nonsense. Students should challenge other groups to complete writing and drawing assignments following one another’s rules. Encourage students to discuss what was challenging or surprising about the assignment and how clear or appealing the results would be to someone who didn’t know the rules.

2. Technology and Response

Many of the artists in this guide were affected by world events and by exciting new technological innovations. For better or worse, these developments drastically changed the lives of ordinary people.

Have your students think about innovations that have had a major impact on the world, such as stem cell research, cloning, nuclear weapons, and digital information. Ask students to debate the pros and cons of these innovations, using background information from the Internet and newspaper and magazine articles. Students can respond to the issue through writing or art and identify other students’ positions by looking at and reading what they have created.


Go to Lesson 1: Painting Modern Life →

Grove Art Online: Suggested Reading

Below is a list of selected articles which provide more information on the specific topics discussed in this lesson.