Art

Voyeur Tools

I have to say, I think the Voyeur Tools is my favorite program that we have looked at in class thus far. I really like the look of the visual representations, and I really appreciate that there are multiple visual representation options. My favorite part, however, is that the program offers the actual statistical data that the visual represents. Particularly in the word trends widget, I like that the frequency of the word is actually shown, and the issue itself is accessible.

For example, I looked up the words art and new. In word trends, I found that art is talked about much more frequently than things being new. This struck me because my last interaction with art was the Prologue to Dorian Grey, which talks about the importance of making things new via art. I understood this idea to be central to the modernist movement. In the word trends, however, I found that the issue with the most uses of the word art is the issue with the fewest uses of the word new. Just from this data I began to think that their definition or explanation of art would be quite different than Oscar Wilde's, and after I looked at the issue for myself, I found that I was right: their definition of art was quite different. I thought that it was fascinating that I was able to see this in nothing more than squiggly lines of a page!

At the Aquarium

As I was filtering through various additions of The Masses, my eyes were drawn to a poem entitled "The Aquarium" by Max Eastman. It's funny that in the midst of a page of 20 thumbnails, the layout of this particular page caught my attention. The poem is paired with another poem in two identically sized columns at the bottom of the page. The poems are framed by an art deco mural, under the title "LYRICS." The page is quite beautiful.

The themes of the poem have an interesting relationship as well. The other poem is entitled "The Poetry of the Earth." It describes a woman from, as the title suggests, the perspective of the earth (nature). On the other hand, "At the Aquarium" is a man reflecting upon nature (the fish). Those ideas complement each other nicely.

It's really interesting how the entire page can be studied as a single unit and at the same time be studied as the combination of multipe elements. I would never have thought of considering the mural's relationship with the text outside of the concept of bibliographic coding.

New & Art in The Little Review

 

The relationship that I took a look at is the occurrences of the word "new" and "art" in the MJP corpus of The Little Review.  This relationship is interesting because it is fairly dynamic throughout the magazine's run, with moments that exemplify an inverse relationship - such as between 1914 and 1915 - and also a direct relationship - such as throughout the issues of 1916.  Of particular interest is the response to this early osciallation, with the largest disparity being the first issue of 1917, which is also the low point for "new" and the high point for "art."  While the dynamic relation between the two terms continues, this point of greatest divergence would seem to warrant further inspection.

This large corpus analysis is different than our class discussion of the theme of death in the September 1918 issue of The Little Review, as it returns trends that place a much stronger emphasis on regeneration over decay.  In analyzing this trend throughout the corpus, these tools for large corpus analysis seem to give a new means through which to examine the relationship between The Little Review and World War I that focuses on these larger trends of life and regeneration that permeate the corpus.

The Crowds in BLAST and The Crisis

As Peppis says in his article, the Vorticists "fight for a future in which Britannia rules not only waves, markets, and industry, but culture as well" (131).  Peppis's reading of BLAST II, specifically Lewis's "The Crowd Master," parallels a similar thematic presence regarding crowds in The Crisis.  "Lewis's text defines participation in a crowd as a state in which more primitive instincts subdue the promptings of reason," Peppis argues, and "participation in a crowd is an 'anesthetizing' of self that can inspire persons willingly to die for country" (111).  BLAST II blurs the strict boundaries between individual and community (crowd), which he established in BLAST I.  This Blast negotiates with community while trying to maintain the Vorticist's intellectual ivory tower.  In "Artists and the War," Lewis suggests, "The Public should not allow its men of art to die of starvation."  Here, he almost reaches out to the public for patronage.  He, then, distances himself from this implicit requests, somewhat passive-agressively, as he states, "But as the English Public lets its artists starve in peace time, there is really nothing to be said."  Peppis's argument and Lewis's "Artist in the War" reveal Lewis's, perhaps only momentary, contemplation of cooperatingpublicly.   

 

The June, 1918 issue of The Crisis similarly creates a tense negotiation between individual and public.  Du Bois positions the "Foreign" and "Ghetto" sections of "The Horizon" beside each other.  These news bulletins juxtapose foreign and domestic events for African Americans, creating a dialogue about race and war.  One item in the report recognizes Corporal V. E. Johns Lee for "conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty... Under heavy shell fire, he remained on duty at his post in a particularly exposed position."  Although the report mentions that Lee was with "the advanced troops" (or, the avant-garde), the article heightens the sense of his isolation by naming only him among the other members.

On the same page, in the "Ghetto" section, Dubois lists the lynchings that had taken place since the last recording.  These reports do not go into detail, but, I think, all lynchings carry connotations of mob madness/the crowd and individual isolation.  In Poplarville, Miss., "Claud Singleton, [was] hanged."  He "was accused of murdering a white man.  He had been sentenced to life imprisonment."  Du Bois intentionally positions these two sections in order to connect their thematic similarities.  In each report, an individual African American is surrounded by people.  The thematic work of these two reports subvert lynch mobs by making them synonymous with military (Prussian) aggression.      The presumably white lynch mob echoes the attack on Corporal Lee, thus making lynch mobs unpatriotic.  

We're On the Same Side: Unlikely Alliances in WWI Issues of BLAST and The Crisis

Both The Crisis and BLAST evince support for World War I as a general theme. However, both magazines also tie the war to their own existing causes. The Crisis ties fighting the Great War to fighting racism, and asserts that winning the war will mean a better place for African-Americans in society thereafter. BLAST II, meanwhile, claims that the war between England and Germany is a war between modernism and romanticism or passeism, and thus allies itself with the patriotic English cause.

Within The Crisis, World War I is treated as a comeuppance for Germany and the evils of imperialism, as well as an opportunity for African-Americans to show their patriotism and secure a more comfortable role in American society through their service. This is hinted at in the issue of October 1914, but develops to a greater extent in the June 1918 issue. The first issue of The Crisis features two pieces that deal expressly and extensively with the war. 

The first, "Of the Children of Peace," is filled with antiwar sentiment. The author draws a comparison between the pretty rhetoric of wartime bravery with its images of "tall, handsome men, all gold and silver and broadcloth," and the realities of wartime brutality, in which men were "naked and dirty,with sodden, angry, distorted faces... they dragged, not pale and leaden guns, but pale and bounden women" (289). The piece claims that "The cause of War is Preparation for War," and that such preparation is caused by "the Hatred and Despising of Men" (290). Thus, though the piece is an anomaly among the others discussed here in that it finds no good in war at all, comdemning it as destructive and cruel, it ties war to considerations of racism, purporting that war is caused by hatred. 

"WAR" also depicts war as brutal and heartbreaking, with its "smoking houses and ravished daughters" (297). However, unlike the previous piece, which seems to call for an immediate end to war, the author of "WAR" ultimately states that the present war must continue, for though the people mourn their suffering, they also rejoice at the destruction of their enemy. Therefore, the Lord will let the fighting continue, for "As they have sowed/ So shall they reap" (297). Thus, the war is depicted as a necessary evil, which must be endured for the punishment of the nation's enemies. 

 

The June 1918 issue of The Crisis falls more strongly in favor of the war, with no pieces that are discernibly against the war. Moreover, the issue emphasizes the role of African-American soldiers in the war to a far greater extent. 

Within the Editorial section, the magazine not only praises the valiant efforts of black soldiers but claims that as a result of such efforts, "never again will darker people of the world occupy just the place they have before. Out of this war will rise... an American Negro, with the right to vote and the right to work and the right to live without insult" (60). Thus, the writers of The Crisis tie the war against Germany to their own more personal war against racism, both by suggesting they come from common causes, as seen in 1914's "Of the Children of Peace," and by suggesting that winning the Great War will be a victory for racial equality, as seen here. 

 

BLAST, similarly, ties its own efforts to create a Vorticist artistic movement to the war effort, arguing that modernism was allied with England and that the true enemy of both entities was German romanticism. Paul Peppin in his piece "'Surrounded by a multitude of other Blasts': Vorticism and the Great War" argues, "The war against Germany, now cast as the principal foreign enemy of the only true modernist empire, gives the Vorticists a new means of affirming their patriotism" (98). This bears out in an examination of BLAST II's contents.

The Editorial in BLAST II claims that Germany "has stood for the old Poetry...This paper wishes to stand rigidly opposed, from start to finish, to every form that the Poetry of a former condition of life, no longer existing, has foisted upon us... Under these circumstances, apart from national parizanship (sic), it appears to us humanly desirable that Germany should win no war against France or England" (5). The tone of the magazine, here allying modernism with England and France, differs greatly from its treatment of the same in BLAST I:

In BLAST I, two pages from which are displayed above, the authors both Blast and Bless England. They do not explicitly ally themselves with the nation. Rather, they see both modernist and antimodernist things about it. It is only with the coming of war that BLAST ties the cause of modernist art to England and to English victory in the war. 

 

Thus, both The Crisis and BLAST take an overall pro-war stance. However, both do so not just by a show of patriotism, but by tying the pro-war cause to the causes that each magazine is already deeply concerned with: for The Crisis, anti-racist work; for BLAST, the spread of Vorticism.

Nationalism, Art, and the Great War in The Crisis and BLAST!

In looking at the June 1918 issue of The Crisis and its treatment of World War I in relation to BLAST! II , I was struck by the overt nationalism present in each magazine.  This nationalist tendency was especially striking given the dissenting tone of previous issues of each magazine.  Wyndham Lewis’s “Constantinople Our Star” emphatically states that “[a]ny German claim to World-Dominion would be ludicrous.  The modern Englishman is naturally better liked abroad than the modern German, apart from politics” (11).  Unlike the Blasts that targeted England in the previous issue, Lewis’s attack here is aligned with the rampant Germanophobia that Paul Peppis identifies in “‘Surrounded by a Multitude of Other Blasts’: Vorticism and the Great War” as central to the propaganda of the British government (98).  By comingling his critique of German aesthetics with the broader public discourse surrounding World War I, Wyndham Lewis imbues both the vorticist movement and his view of World War I with a nationalist tone.  In similar fashion, John D. Swain’s “A Lost Dialogue of Plato” exemplifies a nationalist allegiance while maintaining the primary purpose of The Crisis – critiquing the social structures that actively oppress African Americans.  The dialogue leads to the recognition that “those in authority, and whom you as a good citizen obey, have seen fit to choose this barbarian to be a captain in the fight; and it may be supposed that, being a Macedonian, he needs not blows but encouragement rather, that he may offer up his life for his friends rather than waste it for those who spit on him” (64).  While the implicit message in the dialogue is the recognition of the merit of African American soldiers’ service during World War I, Swain creates an ironic distance in his critique.  Unlike the pointed, journalistic critique of the racist views and actions underlying mistreatment of African Americans in “Segregation,” Swain’s piece veils this same critique, rendering it less direct.  In doing so, he implicitly exemplifies a nationalist mentality that seeks to align the primary goal of The Crisis with an unwavering support of America.

Although similar in their embrace of nationalist sentiments, The Crisis diverges from BLAST! II in its treatment of art’s relation to war.  In the editorial that opens BLAST! II, Lewis exclaims that “[w]e will not stop talking about Culture when the War ends!” (5, emphasis his).  By juxtaposing culture and war in this manner, Lewis creates an implicit connection between the two.  Furthermore, the exclamation makes clear that the discourse of aesthetics in BLAST! is expressly concerned with its relation to war through this alignment of culture and war.  This perceived interrelation between World War I and art is further expressed in the Vortex of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, which Erin has astutely discussed elsewhere on this blog.  In direct contrast with BLAST!’s conception of war and literature, The Crisis depicts the two as mutually exclusive, giving more attention to war than art.  This relationship is most expressly stated in the difference in the obituaries of Major James Walker and Roscoe Jamison.  In direct contrast to the immense detail given to Major Walker (pictured to the left), the Personal section of The Crisis tersely explains that “Roscoe C. Jamison, the promising young Negro poet, is dead” (86).  The incongruous attention paid to the deaths of these two individuals – both to be held to some merited esteem – underscores both the perceived differentiation between art and World War I and the emphatic focus on war in this issue of The Crisis.

The Changing World of Women and Work: Cosmopolitan, June 1910

 

Throughout the June 1910 issue of Cosmopolitan, one finds multiple, though oblique, pieces which deal with the concept of women in various fields of work. All hint at a shift in prevailing social attitudes about the field in which these women are employed, and in some cases imply a shift in actual living and working conditions as well. 

1. Robert W. Chambers. "The Common Law." Cosmopolitan, June 1910, Vol. 21, No. 1, 62-80.

The serial "The Common Law" was the first object of my examination. This serial deals with the forbidden romance between an artist, Louis Neville, and his model, Valerie West. Valerie and Neville can never marry, for models occupy a much lower and somewhat scandalized place on the social ladder. This is, obviously, a social situation in which limits are placed based on gender. As all of the mentioned artists are men, who retain their social power and standing, and all of the models are women, who are seen as a mere step above prostitutes, the social lines within the art world, within the act of a sitting, are drawn sharply between the two genders. Much of the section contained in this issue, rather than depicting the lovers together (they have only a single, short scene on pages 76-77), deals with Valerie's navigation of the social world. Though artists' models are thought undesirable social companions, Valerie seems to provoke positive feelings in all who encounter her: she is sought out as a companion by the Countess d'Enver, who pleads to West, "Can't we be friends? I do need one; and I like you so much[...] There is a place for you in my heart" (76). Likewise, though Neville's sister, Lily Collis, is determined to keep Neville and Valerie apart, and visits Valerie with the intention of dissuading her from any thoughts of marriage, she too seems charmed by the model. After Valerie reveals that she has always known of the impossibility of marrying Lily's brother, Lily remarks, "I look into your face, and I know you are good--good-- all the way through" (68). However, though much of her acceptance seems to hinge upon her uniquely winning personality, there is also evidence that Lily’s improving treatment reflects larger societal shifts. Lily suggests that her inability to accept Louis and Valerie’s romance stems from “something of their [her parents’] old fashioned conservatism clinging to” her despite “all [her] liberality, all [her] modern education” (64). Thus, though Lily's work is still perceived by all as a terrible social obstacle, there is also evidence within the story of changing social mores towards women and modeling work, and a suggestion of further, future change. I plan to do further research into the serial, as I am interested in seeing how things turn out.

 

2. "Stage Beauties Posed Exclusively for CosmopolitanCosmopolitan, June 1910, Vol. 21, No. 1, 81-87.

Similarly to artists’ models, actresses have not, historically, been widely accepted as paragons of virtue, and although some became popular and respected entertainers, the profession as a whole violated middle-class mores enough to garner it a large dose of skepticism from society as a whole. Thus, it was surprising to me that Cosmopolitan chose to feature portraits of “Stage Beauties Posed Exclusively for Cosmopolitan within its pages (81). The photos feature short descriptions of the women’s accomplishments, previous and current appearances, and, occasionally, interests or other facts, such as in the case of Anne Murdock:

The most notable thing about this photo series, then, is that these actresses are not discussed as negative social factors, or even solely as beautiful faces. Rather, the career accomplishments of these women are highlighted. It is, indeed, notable that Cosmopolitan did a series on these women, and suggests that its readers would either be or wish to be theatre attendees, and ones dedicated enough to show interest in leading actresses and their accomplishments. 

 

3. Adler-Rochester-Clothes, "--With Sweatshop Misery Left Out." Cosmopolitan, June 1910, Vol. 21, No. 1, Advertising, 43.

Finally, an advertisement for Adler-Rochester-Clothes alludes to one of the largest professions for women at this time: toiling away in garment-industry sweatshops. In a move similar to modern "Made In The USA" and "green" efforts, Adler-Rochester-Clothes asserts that their clothing is not made in sweatshops by exploited workers. Addressing such a topic--and in an advertisement rather than an article or public statement-- suggests that the reading public was opposed to poor working conditions and cognizant of the fact that they existed. Moreover, the company ties the idea of happy, healthy workers to better clothing, saying that the contrast between dingy sweatshops and the blissful Adler-Rochester factory is "a contrast similar to that which exists between Adler-Rochesters and other clothes" (43). Though the advertisement does not directly reference female factory workers, historical context-- as well as the contrasting image of the finely-dressed woman pictured above-- hint at her presence, and the advertisement's assertion that cleaner, happier shops are better shops indicate coming changes in her workplace. 

Rhythm: Advertising Art

 Rhythm’s extensive use of drawings and works of art to illustrate both their commercial and literary content is interestingly inconsistent in 1912.  The only extensive use of artwork is in their advertisements for Heal and Sons furniture and Hanfstaengl, a business that sells original and reproduction artwork.  The placement of these ads is itself inconsistent.  For the greater part of 1912 they appear at the beginning of the magazine with only two exceptions in which they appear at the end.  Although Rhythm is known for its defense of advertising and the use of artwork in their advertising, the choice in July of 1912 by Heal and Sons to opt for a more conservative illustration (notwithstanding a patterned border that awkwardly attempts to reintegrate the ad) in place of their standard sketchy drawings of canopy beds suggests a hesitation by the more traditional business to fully adopt Rhythm’s model.  This experiment came at a point when Heal and Son’s advertisement was due for a new illustration and the next month sees the return of the sketchy canopy bed in a new illustration.  

In a way these changes reflect a natural need to adjust the content to avoid redundancy.  Concern for redudancy must have necessarily increased after the June decision to move from a quarterly to a monthly publication.  After this change we can see that many of the illustrations used to frame or bookend the titles of pieces and the illustrations used to punctuate pieces of prose and poetry are occasionally repeated as well (See for example JD Ferguson’s birds or N. Theophilaktoff’s panther-like creature).  But, there is also an increase in advertisement generally, and by the end of 1912 Rhythm is beginning to adopt the standard non-illustrated presentations of advertisements.  The advertisment for “Rhythm Drawings,” while only appearing three times that year is absent in the concluding months and the advertisement for the Ashnur Galerie is an interesting example of an ad where, although the graphic elements have been maintained they are markedly formal and corporate in comparison to the old ads by Heal and Sons and Hanfstaengl. 



L'Élan and Amédée Ozenfant: Art for Art's Sake?

I chose to again look at L'Élan, as it is a French Dada magazine that has a strong focus on art. Part of the heavy use of art in this magazine is likely due to editor Amédée Ozenfant; being a celebrated cubist painter with close relationships with other artists of his time, such as artist André Dunoyer de Segonzac, his interest in the subject is strong. Though Ozenfant was only editor for the first nine issues, every of L'Élan contains a number of sketches and drawings, mixed with some written pieces well. 

Issue 5 has a fairly even mixture of images and text, with seven of its fifteen pages devoted solely to both color and black and white images.  The cover itself of issue 5 contains blocks of red, green, and blue in its otherwise black and white drawing. 


(Cover of L'Élan's issue 5)
 

However, a good example of the images found within L'Élan is a sketch by Segonzac on page 15 titled “Le Nettoyage d'Alcibiade Falempin (R. A. T.),” and in smaller text below it, “dit la «Naïade des Tranchées,»” which translates to “The Cleansing of Alcibiade Falempin (R.A.T.), says the 'Nymph of the Trenches.'” Segonzac was known specifically for his war drawings done from the front lines, and this appears to be along the same vein. His drawings appeared in a number of issues of the magazie (including issues 3, 4, and 6).  This gives the magazine a rather political spin, which indicates that it uses its art to convey a good deal of meaning.

 

The nature of the art found within this particular issue contains a great deal of war sketches such as those of Segonzac, or Zina Ozenfant, Amédée's wife.  In doing a synchronic reading of issue 5, there is a sketch on page 11 of a Russian ceremony "pour le succès des armes alliées," drawn by Zina.  As one of the Triple Entente, Russia's ties with France at the time were strong, as evidenced by by the inclusion of this work.  Stylistically, it is very dark, and looks almost like a woodcut.  Due to the stiffness in forms, it also looks almost medieval in its execution.  Another of example of war-related drawings is on page 5: “Les Zeppelins sur Paris” is an image of German war zeppelins hovering in the night skies of Paris, by Maximilien Volochine.  It too is very dark, allowing the light color of the zeppelin to pop in the night sky.  Its style is almost childish in the way the stars are drawn oversized and otu of proportion, giving an interesting contrast between this and the straightforward style of the magazine's cover.  In this particular francophone magazine, it is very much dominated by the war raging around it - unsurprising, given our extensive exploration of its appearances in other mediums of the time.

 

The overall nature of the work included in this magazine is mostly sketches and a few paintings; of these, three pages are in color (not including the cover).  One such example of color includes Amédée Ozenfant's "L'Intrus ou le Pigeon Fratricide," a two-page spread in the middle of issue 5.  His painting "Mural," done in oil and canvas and completed in 1926, is next to it for comparison.

 


(Ozenfant's sketch on pages 8-9, compared to his painting "Mural")

 

"L'Intrus" does not particularly represent Ozenfant's overall cubist style, and is a good example of what is found overall in L'Élan's pages.  It is not exactly a futurist, cubist, or vorticist magazine like its other counterparts; instead, it seems to focus on a more simple style, reflected especially in the editor's own works.  The editor himself reflects this in his own artwork; instead of what Ozenfant is known for, his style in L'Élan seems more delicate and grounded in reality.  Perhaps this is before he truly developed his cubist style, but however way one looks at it, it is apparant that L'Élan had a mixture of different approaches to sketching. with or without color.

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