4. Documents from the Avant-Garde
Constructivism The Russian Malevich's painting on canvas White on White (1918) revolutionised painting. In 1928 Alexander Rodchenko writes about "the view from the navel". Lazlo Maholy Nagy - a European constructivist & modernist is the most conspicuous teacher at The Bauhaus where he writes his Painting, Photography, Film. (1925) the Nazis force his emigration to the USA where he is influential at the Art Institute of Chicago
From 1916 onwards Dada, Surrealism & Constructivism have political leanings DADA The Inventors of montage : John Heartfield, Josef Grosz and Hanna Hoch.
Futurism in IItaly - poet/painter - Marinetti and the photographer Luigi Balla. Unlike Constructivism their is no revolutionary content in Futurism except fascism. An offshoot of Futurism in England called the Vorticists encouraged the Alvin Coburn an Anglo American photographer to explore double exposures and combination printing not with the idea of obtaining a homegenous picture but a "simultaneus one"
Consider also the new movements in painting Neo-Impressionism, Expressionism, Les Fauves Paul Cezanne in France influences Expressionism in Germany
Surrealism :For the surrealists anything could be made replete with significance by the straightforward practice of removing it from familiar surroundings and recontextualising it. Simon Marsden
Marcel Duchamp's "Ettant donner" - a reference to photography ? Man Ray worked with Brassai, Brandt was assistant to Man Ray The Hungarian Andre Kertesz moves to Paris Surrealist magazine purchase and use Atget's "document" L' Eclipse, Avril 1912
Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) August Sander and "object photographers" begin still life & advertising photography Albert Renger Patzch "The World is Beautiful" (1928) Compare Neue Sachlichkeit with Edward Weston & The f 64 Group in the USA
4.1 Can readings from the German photrographer Lazlo Moholy Nagy (1895-1946) essay "Painting, Photography, Film" (1925) still suggest to a 21st century audience an innovative approach to the use of media and technology in production and reproduction?
4.2 The German photographer Albert Renger Patzsch (1897-1966) found little of interest in the work of Moholy Nagy and outlined his own "Aims"(c.1928) in an essay. Similarly the German portrait photographer August Sander (1876-1954) outlines his own thinking in "Remarks on my Exhibition at the Cologne Art Union"(1927).
4.3 In the Soviet Union many artists were making revolutionary work, often in advance of western Europeans. Varvara Stepanova's essay "Photomontage"(1925) argues for montage as a potentially realist approach to artistic practice.
4.4 The 1928 correspondence between the artist Alexander Rodchenko and Sergei Tretakov, editor of "Novyi LEF" describes how avant-garde realist photography could be seen as counter-revolutionary.
4.5 The intellectual and cultural observer Walter Benjamin(1894-1940), was a renowned architectural critic and was the first writer to describe the window shopper [flaneur] as a new cultural construct. His seminal essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"(c.1930) is fundamental to understanding photography's twentieth century status as an art. Benjamin emphasises how "aura", which is not a feature of of contemporary media, has hitherto formed a major part of aesthetic appreciation.