History of Modern Art (Paper cover) / Edition 6

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Long considered the survey of modern art, this engrossing and liberally illustrated text traces the development of trends and influences in painting, sculpture, photography and architecture from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. Retaining its comprehensive nature and chronological approach, it now comes thoroughly reworked by Elizabeth Mansfield, an experienced art historian and writer, with refreshing new analyses, a considerably expanded picture program, and a more absorbing and unified narrative.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

For over four decades, H. H. Arnason's History of Modern Art has been an indispensible guide to a large and complex subject. Revised and expanded by co-author Elizabeth C. Mansfield, the sixth edition presents a comprehensive overview of modern art with fascinating new material on such topics as Postmodernism, globalization, and art institutions in the twenty-first century.

Alan Wallach, William and Mary College

Elizabeth Mansfield’s revised History of Modern Art is as expansive as modernism itself. Beginning at 19th-century realism in France and ending with contemporary globalization, her survey embraces an impressive range of aesthetic developments across numerous media, I especially admire how she organizes modernism’s great diversity under a clear interpretative framework maintained through all 27 chapters. Her book will prove an invaluable tool for educators.

Andrés Mario Zervigón, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Art History, Rutgers University.

Bravo. Most thorough and useful revision of a textbook I have seen in more than four decades of teaching.

Carl Goldstein, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

I will definitely adopt this revised edition as it is tremendously improved in organization and structure.

Elizabeth Mix (formerly Elizabeth Menon), Butler University

The revisions to Arnason’s History of Modern Art broaden the overall historical contexts of modernism and address more fully the implications of modernism in art and their relationship with the history of the modern Western world. The rewritten edition attempts to include more non-Western European and North American artists and is much more sophisticated in its handling of the historiography of art history.

Damon Willick, Loyola Marymount University

Exciting, more comprehensive and inclusive rather than exclusive! Mansfield’s revisions make the text far more accessible.

Barbara L. Miller, Western Washington University

Library Journal
Since the first edition of Arnason's survey was published more than four decades ago, this has been considered the book on modern art. Newly revised and expanded by Mansfield (art history, New York Univ.; Too Beautiful To Picture: Zeuxis, Myth, and Mimesis), it should still be considered as such. The images are more numerous and of higher quality than ever before. Contemporary art is presented thematically rather than by decade, and various media are integrated. New consideration is given to globalization and the influence of modernism on non-Western and developing countries. Kenny Scharf is not covered in this edition, but the Hairy Who, Santiago Calatrava, and many others have been added. Further learning is fostered by the book's detailed bibliography, thorough index, and glossary. VERDICT Libraries with funds and space for only one modern art book should buy this one; libraries with previous editions should keep them and shelve this update. An ideal primer on modern art.—Nancy J. Mactague, Aurora Univ. Lib., IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780136062066
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 8/17/2009
  • Series: MySearchLab Series 15% Off Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 6
  • Pages: 848
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth C. Mansfield is Associate Professor of art history at New York University. A scholar of modern European art and art historiography, her publications include books and articles on topics ranging from the origins of modernism to Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon to the contemporary performance and body art of Orlan. A fellow at the National Humanities Center in 2008-09, she received the College Art Association’s Charles Rufus Morey book award in 2008 for Too Beautiful to Picture: Zeus, Myth, and Mimesis. (http://arthistory.as.nyu.edu/object/ElizabethMansfield.html)

The late H.H. Arnason was a distinguished art historian, educator, and museum administrator who for many years was Vice President for Art Administration of the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York. He began his professional life in academia, teaching at Northwestern University, University of Chicago, and the University of Hawaii. From 1947 to 1961, Arnason was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: A Short History of History of Modern Art

The Art of Looking

Experience and Interpretation

A Book That Moves with the Times


What’s New: Chapter-by-chapter revisions

1: The Origins of Modern Art

SOURCE: Théophile Gautier, preface to Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835)

Making Art and Artists: The Role of the Critic

A Marketplace for Art

CONTEXT: Modernity and Modernism the Modern Artist

What Does It Mean to Be an Artist?: From Academic

Emulation toward Romantic Originality

Making Sense of a Turbulent World: The Legacy of Neoclassicism and Romanticism

TECHNIQUE: Printmaking Techniques

History Painting

Landscape Painting

2: The Search for Truth: Early Photography, Realism, and Impressionism

New Ways of Seeing: Photography and its Influence

TECHNIQUE: Daguerreotype versus Calotype

Only the Truth: Realism



Seizing the Moment: Impressionism and the Avant-Garde

Manet and Whistler

From Realism to Impressionism

Nineteenth-Century Art in the United States

Early American Artists and the Hudson River School

New Styles and Techniques in Later Nineteenth-

SOURCE: Charles Baudelaire, from his “Salon of 1859”

Century American Art

3: Post-Impressionism

The Poetic Science of Color: Seurat and the Neo-Impressionists

Form and Nature: Paul Cézanne

Early Career and Relation to Impressionism

Later Career

The Triumph of Imagination: Symbolism

Reverie and Representation: Moreau, Puvis, and Redon

The Naive Art of Henri Rousseau

An Art Reborn: Rodin and Sculpture at the Fin-de-Siècle

Early Career and The Gates of Hell

The Burghers of Calais and Later Career

Exploring New Possibilities: Claudel and Rosso

Primitivism and the Avant-Garde: Gauguin and Van Gogh


SOURCE: Paul Gauguin, from Noa Noa (1893)

Van Gogh

SOURCE: Vincent van Gogh, from a letter to his brother Theo van Gogh, 6 August 1888

A New Generation of Prophets: The Nabis

Vuillard and Bonnard

Montmartre: At Home with the Avant-Garde

4: The Origins of Modern Architecture and Design

Safeguarding Culture: Revivalist Tendencies in Nineteenth-Century Architecture

American Classicism

European Eclecticism

“A Return to Simplicity”: The Arts and Crafts Movement and Experimental Architecture

Experiments in Synthesis: Modernism beside the Hearth

Palaces of Iron and Glass: The Influence of Industry

SOURCE: Joris-Karl Huysmans, from the review Le Fer, 1889

“Form Follows Function”: The Chicago School and the

Origins of the Skyscraper

SOURCE: Louis Sullivan, “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered,” 1896

5: Art Nouveau and the Beginnings of Expressionism

With Beauty at the Reins of Industry: Aestheticism and Art Nouveau

Natural Forms for the Machine Age: The Art Nouveau


Painting and Graphic Art

SOURCE: Sigmund Freud, from The Interpretation of Dreams, 1899

Architecture and Design

Toward Expressionism: Late Nineteenth-Century Avant-Garde Painting beyond France


Northern and Central Europe

6: The New Century: Experiments in Color and Form


“Purity of Means” in Practice: Henri Matisse’s Early Career

Earliest Works

Matisse’s Fauve Period

SOURCE: Charles Baudelaire, Invitation to the Voyage, 1857

The Influence of African Art

“Wild Beasts” Tamed: Derain, Vlaminck, and Dufy

Religious Art for a Modern Age: Georges Rouault

The Belle Époque on Film: the Lumière Brothers and Lartigue

CONTEXT: Early Motion Pictures

Modernism on a Grand Scale: Matisse’s Art after Fauvism

Forms of the Essential: Constantin Brancusi

7: Expressionism in Germany

From Romanticism to Expressionism: Corinth and Modersohn-Becker

SOURCE: Paula Modersohn-Becker, Letters and journal

Spanning the Divide between Romanticism and Expressionism: Die Brücke


TECHNIQUE: Woodcuts and Woodblock Prints


Heckel, Müller, Pechstein, and Schmidt-Rottluff

Die Brücke’s Collapse

The Spiritual Dimension: Der Blaue Reiter









Expressionist Sculpture

Self-Examination: Expressionism in Austria



CONTEXT: The German Empire

8: Cubism

Immersed in Tradition: Picasso’s Early Career

Barcelona and Madrid

Blue and Rose Periods

CONTEXT: Women as Patrons of the Avant-Garde

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

Beyond Fauvism: Braque’s Early Career

“Two Mountain Climbers Roped Together”: Braque, Picasso, and the Development of Cubism

“Analytic Cubism,” 1909—11

“Synthetic Cubism,” 1912—14


Constructed Spaces: Cubist Sculpture

Braque and Picasso





An Adaptable Idiom: Developments in Cubist Painting in Paris


Gleizes and Metzinger


Other Agendas: Orphism and Other Experimental Art in Paris, 1910—14


9: Early Twentieth-Century Architecture

Modernism in Harmony with Nature: Frank Lloyd


Early Houses

The Larkin Building

Mid-Career Crisis

Temples for the Modern City: American Classicism 1900—15

New Simplicity Versus Art Nouveau: Vienna Before World War I

Tradition and Innovation: The German Contribution to Modern Architecture

Behrens and Industrial Design

CONTEXT: The Human Machine: Modern Workspaces

Expressionism in Architecture

Toward the International Style: The Netherlands and Belgium

Berlage and Van de Velde

New Materials, New Visions: France in the Early

Twentieth Century

TECHNIQUE: Modern Materials

10: European Responses to Cubism

Fantasy Through Abstraction: Chagall and the Metaphysical School


De Chirico and the Metaphysical School

“Running on Shrapnel”: Futurism in Italy

SOURCE: Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, from The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism







”Our Vortex is Not Afraid:” Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism

CONTEXT: The Omega Workshops

A World Ready for Change: The Avant-Garde in Russia

Larionov, Goncharova, and Rayonism

Popova and Cubo-Futurism

Malevich and Suprematism

El Lissitzky’s Prouns

TECHNIQUE: Axonometry

Kandinsky in the Early Soviet Period

Utopian Visions: Russian Constructivism

Innovations in Sculpture



Stepanova and Rozanova

Pevsner, Gabo, and the Spread of Constructivism

11: Picturing the Wasteland: Western Europe during World War I

CONTEXT: The Art of Facial Prosthetics

The World Turned Upside Down: The Birth of Dada

The Cabaret Voltaire and Its Legacy


“Her Plumbing and Her Bridges”: Dada Comes to America

Duchamp’s Early Career

SOURCE: Anonymous (Marcel Duchamp), “The Richard Mutt Case”

Duchamp’s Later Career


Man Ray and the American Avant-Garde

“Art is Dead”: Dada in Germany

Hausmann, Höch, and Heartfield



Idealism and Disgust: The “New Objectivity” in Germany



The Photography of Sander and Renger-Patzsch Beckmann

CONTEXT: Degenerate Art

12: Art in France after World War I

Eloquent Figuration: Les Maudits




Dedication to Color: Matisse’s Later Career

Response to Cubism, 1914—16

Renewal of Coloristic Idiom, 1917—c. 1930

An Art of Essentials, c. 1930—54

CONTEXT: Matisse in Merion, Pennsylvania

Celebrating the Good Life: Dufy’s Later Career

Eclectic Mastery: Picasso’s Career after the War

Parade and Theatrical Themes

CONTEXT: Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes

Postwar Classicism

Cubism Continued

Sensuous Analysis: Braque’s Later Career

Austerity and Elegance: Léger, Le Corbusier, and Ozenfant

13: Clarity, Certainty, and Order: de Stijl and the Pursuit of Geometric Abstraction

The de Stijl Idea

SOURCE: De Stijl “Manifesto 1” (1918, published in de Stijl in 1922)

Mondrian: Seeking the Spiritual Through the Rational

Early Work


The Break with de Stijl

Van Doesburg, de Stijl, and Elementarism

De Stijl Realized: Sculpture and Architecture


Van ’t Hoff and Oud


Van Eesteren

14: Bauhaus and the Teaching of Modernism

Audacious Lightness: The Architecture of Gropius

The Building as Entity: The Bauhaus

SOURCE: Walter Gropius, from Bauhaus Manifesto (1919)

Bauhaus Dessau

The Vorkurs: Basis of the Bauhaus Curriculum


Josef Albers



Die Werkmeistern: Craft Masters at the Bauhaus



Breuer and Bayer

TECHNIQUE: Industry into Art into Industry

“The Core from which Everything Emanates”: International Constructivism and the Bauhaus




From Bauhaus Dessau to Bauhaus U.S.A.

Mies van der Rohe

Bauhaus U.S.A.

15: Surrealism and Its Discontents

CONTEXT: Fetishism

Breton and the Background to Surrealism

The Two Strands of Surrealism

Political Context and Membership

CONTEXT: Trotsky and International Socialism between the Wars

“Art is a Fruit”: Arp’s Later Career

Hybrid Menageries: Ernst’s Surrealist Techniques

“Night, Music, and Stars”: Miró and Organic–Abstract


Methodical Anarchy: André Masson

Enigmatic Landscapes: Tanguy and Dalí


SOURCE: Georges Bataille, from The Cruel Practice of Art (1949)

Surrealism beyond France and Spain: Magritte, Delvaux, Bellmer, Matta, and Lam

Matta and Lam

Women and Surrealism: Oppenheim, Cahun, Tanning, and Carrington

Never Quite “One of Ours”: Picasso and Surrealism

Painting and Graphic Art, mid-1920s to 1930s

Guernica and Related Works

Sculpture, late 1920s to 1940s

Pioneer of a New Iron Age: Julio González

Surrealism’s Sculptural Language: Giacometti’s Early Career

Surrealist Sculpture in Britain: Moore

Bizarre Juxtapositions: Photography and Surrealism

Atget’s Paris

Man Ray, Kertész, Tabard, and the Manipulated Image

The Development of Photojournalism: Brassaï, Bravo, Model, and Cartier-Bresson

An English Perspective: Brandt

16: American Art Before World War II

America Undisguised: The Eight and Social Criticism

Henri, Sloan, Prendergast, and Bellows

SOURCE: Walt Whitman, first stanza of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry (1856)

Two Photographers: Riis and Hine Brooks

A Rallying Place for Modernism: 291 Gallery and the

Stieglitz Circle

Stieglitz and Steichen

TECHNIQUE: Style through Medium, Photogravure and Gelatin-Silver Prints

Weber, Hartley, Marin, and Dove


Straight Photography: Strand, Cunningham, and Adams

Coming to America: The Armory Show

Sharpening the Focus on Color and Form: Synchromism and Precisionism



The Harlem Renaissance

Painting the American Scene: Regionalists and Social


Benton, Wood, Hopper

Grandma Moses and Horace Pippin

Bishop, Shahn and Blume

CONTEXT: The Sacco and Vanzetti Trial

Documents of an Era: American Photographers Between the Wars

Social Protest and Personal Pain: Mexican Artists






Modotti’s Photography in Mexico

The Avant-Garde Advances: Toward American Abstract Art

Exhibitions and Contact with Europe


Diller and Pereira

Avery and Tack

Sculpture in America Between the Wars

Lachaise and Nadelman

Storrs and Roszak


17: Abstract Expressionism and the New American Sculpture

CONTEXT: Artists and Cultural Activism

Mondrian in New York: The Tempo of the Metropolis

Entering a New Arena: Modes of Abstract Expressionism

SOURCE: Clement Greenberg, from Modernist Painting (first published in 1960)

The Picture as Event: Experiments in Gestural Painting



Willem de Kooning


SOURCE: Harold Rosenberg, from The American Action Painters (first published in 1952)



Tomlin and Tobey


Elaine de Kooning and Grace Hartigan

Complex Simplicities: Color Field Painting








Drawing in Steel: Constructed Sculpture

Smith and Dehner

Di Suvero and Chamberlain

Textures of the Surreal: Biomorphic Sculpture and Assemblage





Expressive Vision: Developments in American Photography

Capa and Miller

White, Siskind, Porter, and Callahan

Levitt and DeCarava

18: Postwar European Art

CONTEXT: Samuel Beckett and the Theatre of the Absurd

Revaluations and Violations: Figurative Art in France






A Different Art: Abstraction in France

Fautrier, Van Velde, Hartung, and Soulages

Wols, Mathieu, Riopelle, and Vieira da Silva

De Staël

“Pure Creation”: Concrete Art

Bill and Lohse

Postwar Juxtapositions: Figuration and Abstraction in Italy and Spain


Marini and Manzù



SOURCE: Lucio Fontana, from The White Manifesto (1946)



“Forget It and Start Again”: The CoBrA Artists and Hundertwasser





Figures in the Landscape: British Painting and Sculpture






Marvels of Daily Life: European Photographers




19: Nouveau Réalisme and Pop Art

CONTEXT: The Marshall Plan and the “Marilyn Monroe Doctrine”

“Extroversion is the Rule”: Europe’s New Realism


Tinguely and Saint-Phalle




Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Rotella, Manzoni and Broodthaers

“This is Tomorrow”: Pop Art in Britain

Hamilton and Paolozzi

Blake and Kitaj


Signs of the Times: Pop Art in the United States



Getting Closer to Life: Happenings and Environments

Kaprow, Grooms, and Early Happenings



“Just Look at the Surface”: The Imagery of Everyday Life


Samaras and Artschwager




TECHNIQUE: Screenprinting

Rosenquist, Wesselmann, and Indiana Lindner, Marisol, Sister Corita

Poetics of the “New Gomorrah”: West Coast Artists






Personal Documentaries: The Snapshot Aesthetic in

American Photography

20: Playing by the Rules: Sixties Abstraction

Drawing the Veil: Post Painterly Abstraction

SOURCE: Clement Greenberg, from Post Painterly Abstraction (1964)

Francis and Mitchell

Frankenthaler, Louis, and Olitski


At an Oblique Angle: Diebenkorn and Twombly

Forming the Unit: Hard-Edge Painting

Seeing Things: Op Art


Riley and Anuszkiewicz

New Media Mobilized: Motion and Light

Mobiles and Kinetic Art

Artists Working with Light

The Limits of Modernism: Minimalism



Smith, Judd, Bladen, and Morris

SOURCE: Tony Smith, from a 1966 Interview in Artforum

LeWitt, Andre, and Serra

TECHNIQUE: Minimalist Materials: Cor-Ten Steel

Minimalist Painters

Complex Unities: Photography and Minimalism

21: Modernism in Architecture at Mid-Century

“The Quiet Unbroken Wave”: The Later Work of Wright and Le Corbusier

Wright During the 1930s

Le Corbusier

Purity and Proportion: The International Style in America

The Influence of Gropius and Mies van der Rohe


Domestic Architecture

Internationalism Contextualized: Developments in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Australia


Great Britain


Germany and Italy

Latin America, Australia, and Japan

Breaking the Mold: Experimental Housing

CONTEXT: Women in Architecture

Arenas for Innovation: Major Public Projects

Cultural Centers, Theaters, and Museums in America

Urban Planning and Airports

Architecture and Engineering

TECHNIQUE: The Dymaxion House

22: Conceptualism and Activist Art

Art as Language

Art & Language, Kosuth

CONTEXT: Semiotics

Weiner, Huebler, Barry

Keeping Time: Baldessari, Kawara, Darboven

Conceptual Art as Cultural Critique

Haacke, Asher

Lawler, Wilson


Extended Arenas: Performance Art and Video


CONTEXT: The Situationists


The Medium Is the Message: Early Video Art



Campus’ Video Art

When Art Becomes Artist: Body Art

Schneemann, Wilke




Gilbert and George, Anderson, and Horn

Radical Alternatives: Feminist Art

The Feminist Arts Program

Erasing the Boundaries between Art and Life: Later

Feminist Art


Guerrilla Girls


Invisible to Visible: Art and Racial Politics


Ringgold and Folk Traditions

Social and Political Critique: Hammons, Colescott

The Concept of Race: Piper

23: Post-Minimalism

Big Outdoors: Earthworks and Land Art

CONTEXT: Environmentalism

Monumental Works

SOURCE: Robert Smithson, from “Cultural Confinement,” originally published in Artforum (1972)

Landscape as Experience

Abakanowicz’s Site-Specific Sculpture

Visible Statements: Monuments and Public Sculpture

Metaphors for Life: Process Art

Arte Povera: Merz, Kounellis

Body of Evidence: Figurative Art

Traditional Realism


Hanson’s Superrealist Sculpture

Stylized Naturalism

Animated Surfaces: Pattern and Decoration

Figure and Ambiguity: New Image Art

Rothenberg and Moskowitz

Sultan and Jenney

Borofsky and Bartlett

Chicago Imagists: Nutt and Paschke


New Image Sculptors: Shapiro and Flanagan

24: Postmodernism

CONTEXT: Poststructuralism

Postmodernism in Architecture

“Complexity and Contradiction”: The Reaction Against

Modernism Sets In

SOURCE: Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour, from Learning from Las Vegas (1972)

In Praise of “Messy Vitality”: Postmodernist Eclecticism

Venturi, Rauch, and Scott Brown, and Moore

Hollein, Stern, and Isozaki

Ironic Grandeur: Postmodern Architecture and History


Stirling, Jahn, Armajani, and Foster

Pei and Freed

Ando and Pelli

What Is a Building?: Deconstruction

CONTEXT: Deconstruction versus Deconstructivism

Structure as Metaphor: Architectural Abstractions

Flexible Spaces: Architecture and Urbanism

Plater-Zyberk and Duany

Koolhaas and the OMA

Postmodern Practices: Breaking Art History

Appropriation: Kruger, Levine, Prince, and Sherman


Holzer, McCollum, and Tansey

25: Painting through History

Primal Passions: Neo-Expressionism

German Neo-Expressionism: Baselitz, Lüpertz, Penck, and Immendorff

Polke, Richter, and Kiefer

SOURCE: Gerhard Richter, from “Notes 1964–1965”

Italian Neo-Expressionism: Clemente, Chia, and Cucchi

TECHNIQUE: Choosing Media

American Neo-Expressionism: Schnabel, Salle, and Fischl

Regarding Representation: Painting and Photography in the 1980s


The Starns

Gilbert and George

Searing Statements: Painting as Social Conscience

Golub and Spero

Coe and Applebroog

In the Empire of Signs: Neo-Geo

Neo-Geo Abstraction: Halley and Bleckner

The Sum of Many Parts: Abstraction in the 1980s





Wall of Fame: Graffiti and Cartoon Artists

Haring, Basquiat

Wojnarowicz and Wong

Rollins and KOS

Painting Art History

Currin, Yuskavage

26: Contemporary Art and the Renegotiation of Modernism

CONTEXT: National Endowment for the Arts

CONTEXT: International Art Exhibitions

Commodity Art

Postmodern Arenas: Installation Art

CoLab, Ahearn, Osorio



Strangely Familiar: British and American Sculpture

Reprise and Reinterpretation: Art History as Art

Meeting Points: Exploring a Postmodern Abstraction

27: Contemporary Art and Globalization

CONTEXT: Modern Art Exhibitions and Postcolonialism

Lines That Define Us: Locating and Crossing Borders

Art and the Expression of Culture

Growing into Identity

Identity as Place

Skin Deep: Identity and the Body

Body as Self

Filming the Body

The Absent Body

The Art of Biography

Globalization and Arts Institutions

Interventions in the Global Museum

Designing a Global Museum

CONTEXT: Avant-tainment

CONTEXT: Pritzker Prize



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At the start of the twenty-first century, the term "modern art" already has something of a venerable ring to it. It has joined other capacious art historical categories, such as "Renaissance" or "Romanticism," which, though they may usefully serve to give shape to broad contours of art history, become less clear in meaning and more open to dispute the closer you get to detailed discussion of specific works of art. The only difference between these and "modern art" is that modern art as a temporal category is still open-ended: it is, by one definition, simply the art of the present day. But it also includes the early paintings of Matisse and Malevich, Braque's Cubist collages, and the first building designs by Frank Lloyd Wright—products of a world that now feels very distant indeed, separated from us by two world wars, the atomic bomb, and the Internet. The words "modern art" have soaked up so much history that they can never again mean what they once meant (or at least, not with the same heady conviction): shockingly new, bewilderingly progressive, utterly of the present moment, unprecedented-though they still encompass that.

A Short History of History of Modern Art

Just as "modern" is a many-layered term, this book, now in its fifth edition, has a history of its own. As the term "modern art" has broadened and been reinterpreted over time, successive scholars, editors, and specialist contributors have amended and added to Harvey H. Arnason's original text, which Arnason himself fully revised some years after the book was first published in 1969. This has been a process not only of fine-tuning and updating information but also of revisitingmuch of Arnason's material in the context of a scholarly and educational environment that has changed significantly from the one in which he wrote. There are parallels to this process in other cultural arenas, for example in the reorganization and reinterpretation of museum and gallery displays. The core of the collection remains the same, the objects have the same indelible presence and fascination, but, juxtaposed with new acquisitions and displayed under different lighting conditions, they lead viewers to look at them in different (sometimes very different) ways.

In this sense, while this new edition of History of Modern Art contains much added material, it is still essentially Arnason's creation. This Preface offers a brief investigation into the marathon staying-power of his original endeavor, even through successive revisions have seen the book evolve over the years to take account of new directions in art and art history. After more than three decades and four new editions, Arnason's vision remains the core of this standard work of art historical reference.

The Art of Looking

Arnason was Professor and Chairman of the University of Minnesota's art department from 1947 to 1961, and he had a long association with New York's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as its Vice President for Art Administration. He embarked on History of Modern Art relatively late in life. The project was conceived and intended as a long-term landmark—the first book of its kind—and it drew on the experience of his distinguished career as an art historian. Two deep-rooted convictions underpin Arnason's History: first, that understanding art is a matter of fundamental importance; second, that the way to learn about art is to look for yourself. His Preface unequivocally emphasized his belief in the importance of the individual's face-to-face experience of art—a belief that, as he saw it, gave the book its rationale and its structure:

The thesis of this book, insofar as it has a thesis, is that in the study of art the only primary evidence is the work of art itself. Everything that has been said about it, even by the artist himself, may be important, but it remains secondary evidence. Everything that we can learn about the environment that produced it historically, socially, culturally is important, but again is only secondary or tertiary evidence. It is for this reason that an effort has been made to reproduce most of the works discussed. For the same reason a large part of the text is concerned with a close analysis of these works of art and with detailed descriptions of them as well. This has been done in the conviction that simple description has an effect in forcing the attention of the spectator on the painting, sculpture, or building itself. If, after studying the object, he disagrees with the commentator, all the better, In the process he has learned something about visual perception.

Encouraging his readers to look at art was Arnason's first objective. But he had a further, more challenging aim in view, which was to get people thinking about what it means to go beyond the realm of words—facts, opinions, descriptions, books (no matter how inspiring or enlightening these may be)—and experience art as a purely visual phenomenon. "The principal emphasis of this book," he wrote,

revolves around the problem of seeing modern art. It is recognized that this involves two not necessarily compatible elements: the visual and the verbal. Any work of art history and/or criticism is inevitably an attempt to translate a visual into a verbal experience. Since the mind is involved in both experiences, there are some points of contact between them. Nevertheless, the two experiences are essentially different and it must always be recognized that the words of the interpreter are at best only an approximation of the visual work of art.

Why does Arnason consider looking at modern art such an important art to master? The valuation that society places on art, and the reasons for that valuation, change with time, and here again, since History of Modern Art first appeared, shifts have occurred in our perception of why art matters.

Experience and Interpretation

The distant roots of Arnason's belief that looking at art is in itself a profoundly worthwhile activity can be traced to the liberal, secular educational ideals of the nineteenth century. These ideals presumed that exposure to the "highest" kind of cultural experiences could make people, whatever their social or ethnic background, better citizens and happier individuals.

More recent generations of scholars and writers have fiercely questioned the foundations of this outlook, but its monuments remain at the center of Western cultural life. The conviction that simply looking at paintings and sculptures, or entering a grandly beautiful building, were necessarily uplifting and "ennobling" experiences was an important factor in the nineteenth-century enthusiasm in Europe and North America for establishing public art collections and opening great private collections to the public. As a scholar working in the orbit of major American collections, Arnason was a direct heir to the tradition of promoting contact with art for the general good. These collections, and later ones founded on their model, still provide the public with their most important point of access to art.

His belief in the power of art to work its own magic in our lives marks Arnason as a man very much of his time and background. Today art has lost none of its cultural glamour, but the role of interpretation is now regarded as not merely helpful for the viewer's own experience but in certain ways essential for it. The idea of art history as a unitary field of knowledge has been replaced by the recognition of diverse art histories, each shaped by a particular interpretative approach. Likewise, the old notion of the canon—a roll-call of indisputable masterpieces that set the standard for all artistic achievement—has given way to a far more inclusive view of what constitute legitimate objects of art historical attention.

These changes have affected the ways in which art is made, viewed, presented, and taught. Textbooks locate art within contemporaneous social, historical, political, and philosophical themes. Museums, too, which at one time were regarded as palaces or temples for the display of self-evidently significant cultural treasures, now see the interpretation of these treasures as an equally important activity, recognizing that any work of art may well mean quite different things to different viewers. To take one obvious example, it is now comfortably accepted, as it would not have been in art history pre-Feminism, that Western art's long preoccupation with the naked female body, in particular the centrality the nude has enjoyed in histories of Western art, does not carry the same messages for women as for men. It is not that we look any more carefully or subtly at art than earlier generations did, only that the range of information regarded as relevant to an understanding (or understandings) of art has been vastly extended.

This new edition, as one would expect, acknowledges interpretative standpoints more openly and, inevitably, more self-consciously that did Arnason's original text. This will be especially evident to the reader in the substantially revised and expanded chapters dealing with art after around 1970, a period during which critical theory and the awareness of multiple interpretations came to inform much art practice.

How Arnason would have interpreted the art of the final quarter of the twentieth century can only be guessed, but he would no doubt have applauded the emphasis on the need for art education to work on a broad front. "It is recognized," he wrote, "that a work of art or architecture cannot exist in a vacuum. It is the product of a total environment—a social and cultural system—with parallels in literature, music, and the other arts, and relations to the philosophy and science of the period." But when he wrote History of Modern Art, you quickly gather, following up these parallels was not his primary concern. The two world wars, the Russian Revolution, the rise of Nazism and the Depression era of the thirties stalk Arnason's narrative of the first half of the twentieth century, but they are largely felt as distant thunder, heard in the background while artists got on with the business of making art.

Charting a Path through Time and Space

In History of Modern Art, Arnason built on the liberal educational tradition in two particular areas. First, he sought to present modern art as essentially the latest phase of a tradition in Western art reaching back to the Renaissance. He acknowledged, but at the same time tended to play down, the dramatic, contentious "shock of the new"—the image of modern artists setting out not only to find new ways of doing things but, as part of this process, loudly and violently rejecting the art of the past. In Arnason's account, modern approaches to making art are more the result of a conversation than an adversarial contest; his model is evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

Second, he addressed "the problem of seeing modern art" as a problem that concerns not only students of art but links to our ability to orient ourselves within the world as we find it. The "problem" could be stated like this: why is it that, a century and more after these works were produced, the Lumiere brothers' early motion pictures of Parisian street scenes look quaint, antique, yet familiar, while Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon can still excite and affront us with its strangeness? "There is no question," asserted Arnason, "that the efforts of the pioneers of modern art changed modern artist's way of seeing, arid in some degree, modern man's." What is more questionable is whether the modern person's way of seeing has yet caught up with the work of those pioneers. In a sense, the old reverence for "realistic" appearances still rules: audiences accustomed to the presentational modes of photography, television, and commercial movies may have no more of an advantage here than did the followers of tired, overblown academic painting in the 1890s.

This problematic situation reveals another reason why, for Arnason, modern art matters so much: it is a grand project of exploration, a journey into space. There are no limits to artists' capacity to explore space or to take a willing and well-informed audience with them. Arnason's reflections on space in art illustrate his critical method, and are worth quoting at some length. His Preface begins:

The arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture are arts of space. For this reason it is essential to approach these arts in the twentieth century, or in any other period, through an analysis of the artist's attitude toward spatial organization. Since space is normally defined as extension in all directions, this attitude can be seen relatively easily in architecture and sculpture, which traditionally are three-dimensional masses or volumes surrounded by space, and, in the case of architecture, enclosing space.

Painting, however, offers an altogether more complex universe:

It is probably more difficult for the spectator to comprehend the element of space in painting than in either architecture or sculpture. A painting is physically a two-dimensional surface to which pigments, usually without appreciable bulk, have been applied. Except insofar as the painter may have applied his paint thickly, in impasto, the painting traditionally has no projecting mass, and any suggestion of depth on the surface of the canvas is an illusion created through various technical means. The instant a painter draws a line on the blank surface he introduces an illusion of the third dimension. This illusion of depth may be furthered by overlapping or spacing of color shapes, by the different visual impacts of colors—red, yellow, blue, black, or white, by different intensities or values, and by many other devices known throughout history. The most important of these, before the twentieth century, were linear and atmospheric perspective.

Arnason then noted, with a decisive stroke, the shift that first made modern painting modern:

Perspective, although known in antiquity, became for the Renaissance a means for creating paintings that were imitations of nature-visual illusions that made the spectator think he was looking at a man, a still life, or a landscape rather than at a canvas covered with paint. Perhaps the greatest revolution of early modern art lay in the abandonment of this attitude and the perspective technique that made it possible. As a consequence, the painting ... became a reality in itself, not an imitation of anything else; it had its own laws and its own reason for existence.

The idea that "laws" might be deduced for modern art would have led an art historian of a more theoretical temper to attempt to formulate them. Arnason preferred an empirical approach: "As will be seen," he continued, "after the initial experiments carried out by the Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, Fauves, and Cubists, there has been no logical progression." Art is not like science or technology, in that experiments and discoveries do not lead to work that is progressively better or more effective, but they do expand (to use a spatial term) the range of possibilities. With History of Modern Art as our guide, Arnason seemed to be saying, we can proceed with confidence, but on a case-by-case basis.

The Primacy of Experience

Arnason's views on art were in keeping with the critical stance of his influential contemporary, the American art writer Clement Greenberg, who in his 1961 book Art and Culture asserted: "Art is a matter strictly of experience, not of principles, and what counts first and last in art is quality; all other things are secondary." Greenberg was banging the drum for abstract art here, taking on its critics who clung to the persuasion that representational art was somehow "superior" to non-representational. Judging art, he was saying, is not a matter of laws or principles, as academic artists and critics believed-there is no automatic right or wrong about it. Instead, art should be judged by "Experience, and experience alone"Ÿin other words, the aesthetic effect it has on the viewer.

Though Arnason's approach can clearly be aligned with Greenberg's formalism and his advocacy of American Abstract Expressionist art, he was far less tendentious. Rather, his great virtue as a writer and educator is that he was prepared to share his insights without insisting that readers share his ideology. It is this inherent generosity that has, in fact, made it possible for later writers of different critical persuasions to revise and augment his original project without subverting its vision.

In practice, of course, our experience of art includes the recognition that an object can be classed as "art," and it is therefore always an activity of some cultural complexity. In Arnason's view, the process of "learning something about visual perception" involves a preparedness to countenance conflicting arguments rather than rush to judgment. This caution applies particularly to assessments of aesthetic value based on non-aesthetic criteria. Who, after all, can sit in final judgment on the relative virtues of those great contemporaries Matisse and Picasso? Produced during the Nazi occupation of France, Matisse's work of the early forties makes no obvious reference to the events of the time, whereas Picasso's Guernica delivers a high-voltage indictment of fascist brutality. Matisse's political leanings during this murky period in French political life have been thought suspect, but not even the more politically outspoken Picasso could touch him in his command of color.

This example recalls a passage in Greenberg's Art and Culture that has considerable bearing on Arnason's critical method: "That a picture gives things to identify, as well as a complex of shapes and colors to behold, does not mean necessarily that it gives us more as art ... The explicit comment on historical events offered in Picasso's Guernica does not make it necessarily a better or richer work than an utterly 'nonobjective' painting by Mondrian." In general, Arnason left it to others to open up the question of exactly how and on what levels art is wired to the world outside. For his part, he found plenty of drama in what takes shape in the studio.

How Modern is Modern?

One question that was never directly addressed in History of Modern Art's early editions was the meaning of the term "modern," the limitations and slippages of which have already been outlined. In one sense, of course, its use is purely chronological, referring to art produced at any time after the modern era in art was held to have begun (in Arnason's account, as in numerous others, this was around the mid-nineteenth century in France). Modern art, as chapter 1 explains, rejected the moribund academicism of Salon artists, the conventions of illusionistic space organized according to the rules of linear perspective. But beyond this, the term was hardly more closely defined. In particular, there was no definition of the label "modernist," which, together with the later coinage "Post-modernist," is now generally seen as part of the basic toolkit for any discussion of twentieth-century culture.

Whereas the term "modern" is a historical catch-all, "modernist" usefully refers to a much more specific vision of what art is for and the form it ought to take—in other words, it carries both moral and aesthetic imperatives. Reinforced concrete is a modern building material, but not all architects who adopted it were modernists: of the two most famous early proponents of ferroconcrete construction, Auguste Perret was a staunch defender of French classical tradition, while Le Corbusier was the archetypal modernist, dedicated to art's mission to speak to the concerns of the modern world through an international formal vocabulary that was at once both austerely beautiful and determinedly functional.

Post-modernism, a term originally applied to architecture, emerged as a self-conscious counter-current to modernism during the decade after History of Modern Art's first edition. By this time modernism, despite its early twentieth-century affiliation with utopian socialism, was identified by many with the values of a social and cultural elite. Modernism, it was argued, was just one of any number of stylistic vocabularies; it had no more claim to be seen as essentially progressive than, say, the ubiquitous classicism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with its Greco-Roman litany of columns, cornices, and pediments. Post-modernism stepped aside from the single-minded trajectory of modernism and asked why art and architecture should not be allusive, eclectic, ornamental, easy-going in their stylistic loyalties, and even ironic or humorous (modernism tended to take itself very seriously). Where modernism is frequently absolute and prescriptive (as in its aversion to ornament and "frivolous" decoration), Postmodernism is relativistic and pluralistic, and skeptical of attempts to correlate form and meaning in any systematic way. Throughout the twentieth century, there had always been artists who challenged prevailing orthodoxies, including modernism. In the Post-modern world-view, the very notion of orthodoxy was discarded.

Both modernism and Post-modernism are terms that reach beyond art to connect with broader cultural and historical trends. This fifth edition of History of Modern Art touches more often on non-artistic contemporary events than did Arnason's early editions. At the same time, it respects Arnason's original approach, in which the reader is enjoined first of all to look, to enjoy art as visual sensation before plunging into the intellectual discourse that surrounds it.

A Book That Moves with the Times

Arnason died shortly before the third edition of this book was published. Because of his failing health, the project of revising the third edition was undertaken by Daniel Wheeler, who extended the book's historical scope up to the mid-eighties. By this time, modernism's role as a once-dominant artistic ideology that contemporary art of the seventies and eighties was reacting against necessitated a fresh look at Arnason's account of the progress of modern art up until that point. As Wheeler wrote:

Since so much of the new art produced during the 1970s and thereafter represents some form of reaction against the whole modernist tradition that went before ... the earlier chapters have received almost as much fresh attention as the new chapters addressed to the various forms of Conceptual Art, to Photorealism, Pattern, Decoration, and the New Imagery, to Neo-Expressionism and, finally, a resurgent, albeit radically altered, abstraction.

The third edition incorporated new research and, in particular, took the chronological narrative deep into Postmodernist (or in Wheeler's preferred term Post-Minimalist) territory, pointing up the nature of late-twentieth-century artists' and architects' reactions to the modernist legacy.

Another new element was the introduction of photography, which had presented itself as a modern art form almost from its first development in the mid-nineteenth century, although it had taken much longer for it to be accepted as such in the academic view of what qualified as art. Photography, said Wheeler, was now included,

not only to acknowledge the aesthetic importance of the work realized in the medium of photography, but also to provide a background for photography's current ubiquitous presence among the mix of media increasingly favored, by all manner of artists, for their endless capacity to yield new figurative, formal, and expressive effects.

In other ways, Wheeler followed Arnason's lead in placing the direct, face-to-face experience of art at the heart of the book. He sounded a more tentative note about this approach, however, since by the eighties it could no longer be presented as entirely ideologically neutral:

I have attempted not so much to present new material as to discover it, as the curious viewer/reader himself might in the act of following contemporary art through its present and ongoing processes of unforeseeable, yet ultimately logical, development . ... Moreover, in discovering, studying, or revealing works of art and architecture, I have carefully avoided the role of critic, as well as that of theorist. Rather than engage in speculative value judgments, or some narrowly defined ideological approach, I invariably find it more rewarding and instructive ... to remain open to the distinctive qualities of each work or trend, to learn its special language, and to allow the particular truth this conveys to unfold.

Wheeler maintained that art is like poetry, in that it "almost always seeks a deeper, less obvious reality." No longer a confident, imperative exploration of space, art was presented here as the doorway to inner, subjective reality. In terms that evoke, but do not entirely assent to, the distinctively Post-modern fracturing of meaning, "criticality" was seen not as a search for truth but as a balancing of competing interests and interpretations. "The challenge of that reality," Wheeler continued,

can be further enriched by the findings of those who have interviewed the artist, observed his work at length, and commented upon its possibilities in a knowing, constructive manner. Once the art has been experienced from these several perspectives, criticality emerges, as problems are posed, resolved, and assessed, like a cat's cradle of checks and balances, woven by the competing interests of time, place, personal circumstance, and sociocultural context. Thus, what I have wanted to offer is a balanced view of recent events in the visual arts—a view balanced, that is, between the subjective vision of the artist himself, an objective, informed consideration of what that vision produced, and my own keen sense of identification with both.

History of Modern Art, it will by now be clear, is itself a monument to a line of art historical and educational thinking that relies on the primacy of experience, guiding but not prescribing, and welcoming the new on equal terms with the old. At the same time, the pressure to look again, to reconsider and update, has continued. Twelve years after Wheeler's revision, Marla F. Prather prepared a fourth edition, bringing subsequent scholarship in a number of fields to bear on the task while attempting "to cut or shrink the old text in order to permit the inclusion of another fifteen years of art, in addition to the history of photography, without making the book an object that only a weight-lifter could handle." Prather rewrote the chapter on Cubism, and added coverage of work in newer art media, such as video and performance art, and by women artists.

The Fifth Edition—Fresh Perspectives

For the fifth edition, the entire text—made up of Arnason's original, Wheeler's and Prather's contributions, and specialist material supplied by numerous other scholars—has again been overhauled from start to finish. Peter Kalb thoroughly recast chapters 24 to 27, taking the story of modern art up to the year 2000 with in-depth coverage of artists and art movements of the last twenty years. He also contributed to the revision of earlier chapters, with Michael Bird who revised chapters 1 to 24, restructuring and subdividing much of this compendious material into a more manageable sequence as a reference source.

Parts of the narrative have been realigned so that, for example, where the fourth edition included a number of important women artists in its survey of the "pluralistic seventies," the new chapter 24 has a section on Feminism, explaining how this wider social and cultural movement interacted with existing trends in art such as installation and performance. Throughout, the new text incorporates the work of women artists as important and integral to the history of modern art. The design of the text has also been greatly enhanced by the use of color throughout the book. Art historians are today much more at home with the concept of the collaborative making of art than in earlier days when the notion of the lone genius prevailed. In its evolution through successive editions, this book has become a richly collaborative project. But it would also be true to say that it holds to its original aim, concisely stated by Arnason in his Preface:

This book is intended for the general reader and the student of modern art ... Aside from being a broad, analytical survey of modern art and architecture, the book is conceived as a dictionary in which much factual information is included. This is particularly true of the latter part which is intended to suggest the main directions of contemporary art and architecture rather than to pretend completeness.

If we take a mid-nineteenth-century start date, "modern" art is now entering its third century. Sometime, someone will draw the line. But it is a fair bet that serious students of the modern era in art will continue, whatever their critical perspectives or cultural allegiances, to reach for this book on the shelves.

Michael Bird
May 2003

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