Modernist Art In Europe
Herbert Herbert’s thesis of his essay is to investigate the arrival of the
machine and modern art and its complexities. During WWI, modernist painting and
sculpture paid major attention to machinery, science and industry. Modern art
during that time has become a central factor in our culture due to its dominance
in public art, museums, media and literature. Herbert brings in background
information and stated the avant-garde of Pisarro, van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, etc.

The industrial revolution had a stronger grip on society during the 19th
century, and during this time, modern art was associated with primitive nature.

During the rise of industrial art their was a rise of landscapes and paintings
of rural everyday life. Also, the new technique and style which became the
handcraft to modern art was so avant-garde from the academic art. Modern art was
involved with cubism, futurism and vorticism. He explains that all of these arts
consisted of the importance of handcraft, creativity, individuality, and
original expression. Herbert keeps bringing in the fact the machine was the
leading sign of modernity. There was no more of a gap between handwork and the
machine. Also, that the machine became so important in modern art because it was
now a part of daily urban life, due to subways, telephones, automobiles, sewing
machines, bicycles, televisions, cinema, and more advanced photographic and
advertising developments. Herbert states that although the machine became a
large factor in art that it was not incorporated in the work of all modernists,
such as Picasso and Braque. The author then describes the modern art in epic
cubism, and how it focused on geometric architecture and structures of
mechanical parts with organic rhythm of daily life. And how Italian futurism
dealt with modern city life, but with more immediacy, more implied movement. It
was similar to cubist but with more calculations. The cubo-futurists in Russia
combined machinery with modernity but did not require the latest industrial
form. The Russian Revolution of 1917 led to the adoption of the abstract
language. Artists were now considered constructor-inventor because they gave
engineering a new creative form. But in France there was no equivalence to

Bauhaus or the Constructivists’ schooling. The new artistic energies came from
the vanguard. Its government did not want radical change. There was the vanguard
embrace of modern industry with aesthetic clarity which is related to French
culture. Herbert concludes that in modern art there was a very close
relationship between art and industry which considering history was avant-garde
for its time. I felt that this essay was very clear and to the point. I found it
easy to read and somewhat enjoyable. Although I wasn’t too sure of Herbert’s
main thesis I found his essay interesting.