|The potpourri of ornament and styles in Victorian architecture|
riled the modernists for the excesses of "useless" ornament.
This is the state of art that the artists of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries found themselves. They saw that the rise of industrialism and the market was making kitsch the dominant form of art, which was threatening to kill culture and art. So to rescue art, a new art was needed; and this new art would be the avante-garde of modernism. Modernism would be the true art which could express man's deep longing to know "what it means to be." So with one swift stroke, Modernism, would both simultaneously sweep away all the meaningless detritus of kitsch as well as create a new meaningful, authentic and universal art.
|Piet Mondriaan's "Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow"|
Entirely new forms of art would then be found in the avante-garde, the new forms of art in abstraction and cubism, which, stripped of their cultural cancer, would allow for only the raw expression of those fundamental truths themselves. Instead of using color and line and form, art became color and line and form. From Mondriaan's blocks of color to Picasso's human forms transformed into cubes, the art would not express old dead notions of particular cultures, but one new universal idea of art.
|Walter Gropius' Bauhaus school in Dessau Germany.|
Modernism became then, at least in its earliest expressions, fundamentally and essentially anti-cultural. Artists working in this milieu didn't see themselves as destroyers of art and culture, but rather as saviors of art. Certainly this was Clement Greenberg's idea, that the art of the avante-garde, in casting off as already dead the cancer of kitsch, would revive art and make it whole again, and modern man, so longing for this purity and wholeness, would respond and find it wonderful.
|Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog" exemplifies a later modern |
fascination in the art world with kitsch.