Modern Art and the Object: A Century of Changing Attitudes

By Ellen H. Johnson | Go to book overview

Preface

This publication is devoted to a reexamination of modem art from the point of view of the artist's approach to the object. The first essay chronicles the complex, changing relationship between art and the object over the past hundred years; it is a relationship which, like nature - or art itself for that matter - has no precise beginnings or endings, only a constantly shifting emphasis, advancing and receding, like the waves of the sea, always the same but never alike. This kind of fundamental organicism has determined the total structure of the book, as one thing grows out of another, holding its past and its future within itself. Cézanne's obsessive, full stressing of both nature and art throws a bridge from the faithful representation of the object in nineteenth-century painting to cubist and subsequent abstraction's freedom from the object. Picasso's indebtedness to Cézanne in his subjugation of the object is indisputable. However, it is not only formally that Picasso considered himself Cézanne's son, but also in the autobiographical expressiveness which asserts itself even in his most rigorously analytic cubist phase. He made that clear when he said that Cézanne wouldn't have interested him at all if he had not been the suffering human being that he was. In the mid-twentieth century, Jackson Pollock is akin to both earlier masters as he passionately identifies himself with his work; 'I am nature' also means 'I am the form I create'. Certainly Cézanne's as well as Pollock's painting is, like most art, to some extent about art; but such artists as Lichtenstein, Johns and Dine stress that aspect of their work more obviously. One might even propose, not altogether frivolously, that Cézanne's insistence on the importance of the painter's mind anticipates conceptual art. These instances of interrelationship, of a giving and taking kinship, and of a flexible continuity have been cited to exemplify the kind of organic order into which the contents of the book have been disposed.

Ellen H.Johnson
Oberlin, August 1974

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Modern Art and the Object: A Century of Changing Attitudes
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface to the Revised Edition 7
  • Preface 9
  • 1 - Modern Art and the Object from Nineteenth-Century Nature Painting to Conceptual Art 10
  • 2 - The Object Painted and the Painted Object in Quiet Collision 65
  • 3 'the Mountain in the Painting and the Painting in the Mountain' 78
  • 4 - The Painting Freed 97
  • 5 'I Am Nature' 110
  • 6 - Object as Art 135
  • 7 - Art as Object 171
  • 8 - The Object in Jeopardy 196
  • 9 - Women Reshaping the Object 216
  • Notes 261
  • List of Illustrations 273
  • List of Figures 280
  • Acknowledgments 281
  • Index 283
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