Fine art and existentialism

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Some examples of paintings influenced by Existentialist thought.

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  • 1. EXISTENTIALISM IN THE VISUAL ARTS

2. Many philosophers, Paul Tillich among them, assert that most creative art, literature and philosophy in the twentieth century is in its very essence existentialist. Tillich describes existentialism as a mirror of the situation of sensitive human beings in our twentieth century.
The Persistence
Of Memory
Salvador Dali
3. The essential categories, time, space, causality, substance, have lost their ultimate power. Mankind does not feel at home in this world any more.There is no safety in the world. Paul Tillich
CRUCIFIXION
Pablo Picasso
4. Roots in the Industrial Revolution
Existentialism was a protest against the world view in which man is nothing but a piece of an all-embracing mechanical reality, be it in physical terms, be it in economic or sociological terms, or even be it in psychological terms. (Tillich)
5. Existentialists wanted to save human existence from being swallowed by the essential structure of industrial society in which man was in danger of becoming a thing.
Marcel Duchamp
The Bride
6. Czanne
The movement of modern existentialism in visual art starts with Impressionist painter Czanne in France. The forms of our existence are no more organic. They are atomistic, disrupted. ..(Existentialist artists) reduce the colorful world of the impressionists and of the beautifying idealists of the past to more and more cubic forms.
The following slide depicts his Still Life With Skull
7. 8. Van Gogh
Van Goghs, although painting in the mid 1800s, frequently reflected existentialist themes in his art."Night Cafe." Here you seean emptiness; the patrons sit apart lost in their isolation. There is irony here, too: in all the beautiful colors you see, Van Gogh captures the horror of emptiness.
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Skull With Cigarette isanother picture with strong existential themes among them, death and absurdity.
11. Munch
The Norwegian Munch could be added here. He has painted pictures not so much of emptiness -- although this factor is also in them, but of horror, crime, shock, that which is uncanny, that which you cannot grasp.
His most well-known painting is The Scream.
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13. A WOMAN SEATED
PICASSO
NUDE IN AN ARMCHAIR
14. GUERNICA
"Guernica is a picture Picasso painted to express the horror ofan incident ofsaturation bombingof a small town in Spain by the Italians and Germans.
it shows what is now in the souls of many Americans as disruptiveness, existential doubt, emptiness and meaninglessness. Paul Tillich
15. 16. Chagall
Chagalls picture, "River WithoutBanks." Here again we have nothing which can be understood from the naturalistic point of view. However, everybody feels here the metaphysics of time in the wild moving clock and the animal above it and the whole constellation of colors and forms. Time is a river without banks.
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18. Giacometti
Man Walking (1960) is isolated and exposed.
19. Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon (1909-1992) He seems the most unforgiving and anguished of the existential artists. expression of a blood-spattered pope imprisoned in a tubular structure
Study After Valasquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953). We see the tortured expression of a blood-spattered pope imprisoned in a tubular structure resembling an unpadded throne.
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21. Existentialistart emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe.
The paintings that follow are Edward Hoppers Nighthawks, Andrew Wyeths Christinas World, Andrew Baines Existential Angst, and Chiricos The Anxious Journey.
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