Thursday, November 1, 2012

Student Picks: Between the Lines – Image and Prose in the 20th Century Avant-Garde

Student Picksis a SCMA program in which Smith students are given the opportunity to organize their own one-day art show using our collection of works on paper. This month’s student curator and guest blogger Leah Santorine ’13 discusses the inspiration and concepts behind her show, “Between the Lines: Image and Prose in the 20th Century Avant-Garde,” which will be on view tomorrow, Friday November 2 from 12-4 PM in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.

Max Ernst. German, 1891 – 1976. Étoile de mer,ca. 1950. Lithograph on paper. Purchased. Photograph by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1953:120

                                               All the shadow bubbles
                                               And the sea-anemones
                                               Come down and breathe within my thoughts

                                               - André Breton. French poet, 1896 – 1966. *

I love modern art and literature. These two worlds have always been intertwined, and in my Student Picks show I strove to create a conversation between the drawings and prints which I chose and the literature around it. Between the Lineswas born by drawing parallels and making connections between these worlds. As a Comparative Literature major, I have always perceived 20th century art to be a product of literature. From my very first glimpse at the Futurist Manifesto, I was convinced. The cultural melting pot that was the European art scene in the early and mid-20th century continued to only solidify my visions of art through literature. Between the Linesis my personal and academic exploration of the literature and art of this particularly intriguing and influential time period.

Texture and color, arguably two things that cannot be portrayed in textual literature, were important to me in choosing, arranging, and creating connections between the artworks. Subsequently, the serious or silly subject matter and the geometric patterns juxtaposed with seemingly directionless lines were important in creating a balance between the different moods that the pieces evoke.

Futurism, Surrealism, and Dadaism were three movements that revolutionized art and were highly attractive to me – either through their respective manifestos or the art that the movements themselves produced. Many of the works in Between the Linesrepresent these different movements and show the full extent of the range of these artists. By combining each work with poems, prose, and quotes from authors from the same period, often even their peers and friends, the combined works give the viewer a new perspective on the influential and interpretive relationship between 20th century art and literature. I hope that Between the Linesilluminates both, playing with how art and literature address the ideas of conceptualizing and being.

Student Picks is a program that I had always wanted to participate in. Every year I put my name in, just once or twice, but never really expected anything. This year, I put my name in only three times. When I received the e-mail that I was selected to be a student curator, I was completely surprised and excited to have the opportunity to not only participate, but also to really kick off my senior year. It’s an incredible opportunity that I have done my best to take full advantage of. See you on Friday!

Sophie Tauber-Arp. Swiss, 1889-1943. Abstraction,n.d. Etching on paper. Gift of Priscilla Paine Van der Poel, class of 1928. Photograph by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1977:32-228

                                          the streams buck like rams in a tent.

                                          whips crack and from the hills come the crookedly combed

                                          shadows of the shepherds.

                                          black eggs and fools’ bells fall from the trees.

                                          thunder drums and kettledrums beat upon the ears of the

                                          donkeys.

                                          wings brush against flowers.

                                          fountains spring up in the eyes of the wild boar.

                                          - Hans/Jean Arp. German-French artist and poet, 1886 – 1966. **

Riccardo Licata. Italian, born 1929. Scrittura,1954. Charcoal and pencil on white paper. Purchased. Photograph by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1954:70

                                                                   “Alba”

                                                   As cool as the pale wet leaves
                                                                             of lily-of-the-valley
                                                                  She lay beside me in the dawn.

                                                   - Ezra Pound. American poet, 1885 – 1972. ***

* excerpt, "The Spectral Attitudes," in Collected Verse Translations of David Gascoyne.Edited by Robin Skelton and Alan Clodd. Oxford University Press, 1970.

** Dada poetry line: line from Arp’s poem "Der VogelSelbdritt," Hans Arp; first published in 1920; “Gesammelte GedichteI”, p. 41 (transl. Herbert Read); in Jours effeuillés: Poèmes,essaies, souvenirs,Gallimard, Paris 1966, p. 288.

*** Ezra Pound: Poems and Translations.Edited by Richard Sieburth. Library of America; First Edition (October 9, 2003).

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