Modern Art: The Persistence Of Memory

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This essay investigates the three different strands of modern art: modern expressionism, modern irrationalism and modern formalism. This essay will focus on The Persistence of Memory (1931), an artwork by Salvador DalÍ, he was one of the most perplexing Surrealist artists of the twentieth century.
According to the Encyclopedia of Art, the term ‘modern’ refers to something typical of contemporary life or thought. Modernism is a genre of art and literature that makes a self-conscious break with previous genres. Modern Art refers to works produced during the period dating from roughly 1860s through the 1970s. Typically, modern artists rejected previous Renaissance-based traditions, in favor of new forms of artistic experimentation. They used
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Charles Harrison argues that the arrival of Expressionism announced new standards in the creation and judgment of art and that Art was now meant to come forth from within the artist, rather than from a depiction of the external visual world, and the standard for assessing the quality of a work of art became the character of the artist's feelings rather than an analysis of the composition (Harrison 2007:127). Expressionist artists often employed swirling, swaying, and exaggeratedly executed brushstrokes in the depiction of their subjects. These techniques were meant to convey the turgid emotional state of the artist reacting to the anxieties of the modern world (Harrison 2007:127). Expressionism emerged simultaneously in various cities across Germany as a response to a widespread anxiety about humanity's increasingly discordant relationship with the world and accompanying lost feelings of authenticity and spirituality (The Art Story: online). The late modern period was marked by extraordinary creativity in thought and the arts. Yet as imaginative and fruitful these changes were for Western intellectual and cultural life, they also helped create the disorientated, fragmented and troubled era that characterized the twentieth century (Perry…show more content…
More than a school of thought, irrationalism is a multi-faceted reaction against the dominance of rationalism (New World Encyclopedia: online). Irrationalism need not be opposed to reason. It can consist of a simple awareness that the rational aspect of things tends to be overemphasized and that this needs to be compensated by an emphasis on intuition, feeling, emotions, and the subconscious. But it can also take a more extreme form. Such is the view that the rational element is something contrary to life and altogether negative. Though few have taken the stand that reason plays no part at all in human mental life, some irrationalists have thus reduced it to a secondary function that merely represents the surface of things and hampers the development of what really matters (New World Encyclopedia:

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