Modern art revisited and perhaps required.
Let’s say 1850 to 1950 for the sake of symmetry and brevity and let others theorize, for now, about conception and inkling of conception along with the details of the enlightenment on one end and the various trailing edge influences after 1950 to the present on the other. Let us also accept, for the time being at least, that the birth of Alice Pleasance Liddell in 1852 and the first hand written gift of Alice’s Adventure Under Ground in 1864 stand as a first gate post, a small distance prior to the “first great war,” for the modern art being revisited here. Now the beginning of the end of modernism can be marked with a second gate post by that other adventuring, blue dress wearing girl Dorothy Gale over the rainbow in Oz. Though written and published near the time of Alice in wonderland (under land) its film adaptation in 1939 marked the beginning of the end of modern art as the term is taken to mean herein. More on Alice and Dorothy later. Modernism was a perfect fit for growing anti imperial, pro democratic sentiment before, during and after, the first great war.
To be clear I am saying that, modern art was, along with democracy, targeted by both Bolshevik and Nazi with a priority intention to obliterate both. Modern art was essentially democratic in origin and thus free to articulate non academic, and or contemporary social ideas and aspirations with or without religious overtones, in other words art and artists were free for only one hundred years to be against the church and totalitarian state if they chose. Many were and did. The creative revolution that coalesced with artists during the first war in Zurich around Cabaret Voltaire spread round the world like a grass fire between the wars was stamped out during the second war in Europe and Russia; was then polished off by imperialists Nazis transferred to key positions in North and South America after the Second World War and beginning in 1947 with Abstract expressionism as an elaborate, corporate and academically supported, socially inarticulate vacuum.
The fundamental design elements of line, shape, mass, tone, colour etc. were no longer used to articulate a national, provincial, civic, community, family or personal, narrative of any human to human communication within the “new American” art forms that the Nazi, C.I.A. and other corporate interest were promoting with Marshall Plan funds. Art could not be in the service of human beings and must serve only art, they argued. Art must be abstract like God, Satan, like money and the economy, an unknowable, non testable and possible fiction. The basic elements of design would converse with themselves; the red blobs conversing with the blue lines would work out the meanings of things for everyone, so they could get on with their work. Dichotomous debate was encouraged, in the press with the question: is it art or isn’t? The flames doused with confusing gas from time to time to keep the passions high. No one ever asked who’s agenda is this? Who benefits? Where do the dots lead? For whom does this bell toll?
The term modern means different things to different people. “The Futurists” (socialists, fascists and communists) glorified war speed and the machine age, corporatism and the supreme power of the rich. They made incredibly dynamic art works that moved the common man (clay) but, the conservative socialists (Hitler, Stalin etc…) later stamped out modern art along with all other freedoms in society; they preferred terror, torture and totalitarianism as traditionally practised by church and monarchs. Both of these fascist and communist Golem were the careful constructions and installations of central bankers and I think we can now view them as a single Golem with two fists, two arms, jack boots on both feet, connected in the middle with only one head, probably in London. The poorly equipped and organized democratically inclined republics faced down two highly organized and well equipped corporate, military, socialist monsters, one on the left hand in Russia and the other on the right in Europe. In every instance London failed to provide promised assistance to any republic ally while enjoying dividends from the Nazis through the Bank of International Settlements.
In opposition were what I call “the modern gardeners” and the anti-machine and anti-war group in a game of strategy that the good guys lost all of the battles of and the war; lost as they were in the London fog.