Purism, Synesthetes, and Simultaneity: Modern Art Musings.

Inspirations from this week's lesson. I forgot that I actually like some of the art from the early twentieth century. Here are three interesting concepts that evolved during that time.

PURISM: French artist Amédée Ozenfant, along with Le Corbusier, eschewed the decorative, disordered qualities favored by Cubists. Together, they founded the Purism movement with their manifesto: The Foundation of Modern Art (1925). Purism advocated a return to clear, precise, ordered forms, expressive of the modern, machine civilization.  

Ozenfant, The White Pitcher, 1925.
Ozenfant, The Vases, 1925.

SYNESTHESIA: Even though I have a strong aversion for the collective, Der Blaue Reiter, especially the Russian artist Vassily Kandinsky, I appreciate the probability that he was a synesthete. This describes someone who "hears" color and "sees" sound. In other words, when one sensory pathway is activated a second pathway is automatically, simultaneously activated. He and his fellows were interested in reuniting humanity with nature and spirituality in an attempt to counter the cold, modern mechanical world. The allowance of the subconscious to come forth organically determining the painting would soon be exploited by other artists, notably the Surrealists. This provocative short film stylishly explores the concept of synesthesia.

Terri Timely, Synesthesia, 2010.

SIMULTANEITY: Ukrainian born artist Sonia Delauney shows us how to collapse spatial and temporal distances, fusing art with life, with Simultaneous Dressing. She is known for layering repeat patterns (dress, jacket, accessories: same print). This idea was taken farther by dressing useful machines, such as automobiles, in the same pattern.

She and her husband, painter Robert Delaunay, liked to express the dynamism of modern life in rhythmic and bold patterning, the sensation of movement is caused by putting certain colors together. The clothing is meant to identify the wearer as modern.

Sonia Delaunay

Delaunay also made costumes, along with plenty of other modern artists such as Natalia Goncharova, Michel Larionov, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, André Derain, Georges Braque, André Masson and Giorgio de Chirico. 

Delaunay's costume for ’Cléopâtre’ in the Ballets Russes production of ’Cléopâtre’, 1918
Look at these costumes by Sonia Delaunay! 
Tristan Tzara's Dadaist play, The Gas Heart, 1920's. Costumes by Delaunay.

David Bowie (with Joey Arias and Klaus Nomi) get in on the Dada look, Saturday Night Live, 1979.


  1. Is Ozenfant a synesthete too? Discuss.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.