Birth of the Modern: Paris, New York and the Age of Abstraction (1848-1948)
Instructor: Richard J. Friswell, M.Ed., M.Phil.
Classes: Thursdays 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, September 22 – October 20 (5 sessions)
Fee: $125 members / $150 non-members
1848 was a touchstone year in the history of European socio-political change. In that year, the violence surrounding the establishment of France’s Second Republic paralleled far-reaching conflicts in neighboring European nation-states. Through a fascinating chain of events following this short-lived period of civil unrest, France’s modern art movement was conceived, fostering a radical shift in artistic expression which reverberated well beyond its borders.
At the fin de siècle, Paris was the center of the cultural universe. From its progressive heart arose new ways of thinking about art, literature, music—even life itself. It was not long before these modernist influences were being felt across the Atlantic in New York City, the New World’s version of Europe’s “City of Light.’ The creative and intellectual ties that bound these two metropolises led to an active exchange of inspiration and creative expression.
Eventually though, Paris’s star faded in the wake of two destructive world wars and the rise of radical socialism. By mid-20th century, the world would be looking to New York for the next generation of influential artists, writers and musicians. In the post-war period—a mere hundred years since France’s defining cultural moment—the spotlight would shift to a group of American artists and their radical forms of abstract expression, as they defined modern art for decades to come.
This course will explore the people, historical events and artistic movements that formed the basis for the Age of Abstraction. Selected readings, visuals and musical excerpts will be presented in class, underscoring and illustrating the sights, sounds and voices that comprised the evolution of Modernism.
Detailed Reading/Listening list will be made available 4-6 weeks prior to classes beginning.
Weekly classes will be held in the auditorium of the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, located at 625 Williams Street in New London.
Advanced reservations required for the series: please contact the Education Department at 860.443.2545 x110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richard J. Friswell has a master of education from Boston University and a master of philosophy in liberal arts from Wesleyan University (`14), where he was awarded the Rulewater Prize for interdisciplinary scholarship. He is associate director of Wesleyan University’s Institute for Lifelong Learning and publisher and managing editor of ARTES, an international fine arts e-magazine. He is an elected member of the Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art, one of only 450 individuals in the United States, and an award winning writer, with two national medals from Folio:Magazine for his editorial contributions in the field of art journalism. His collection of essays, Balancing Act: Postcards from the Edge of Risk and Reward. Was published by Hammonasset House Books in 2016. He lectures widely on topics of modern cultural history at museums, academic settings and other venues.