teaching notes


Space and Time in the Visual Arts. 1880-1930 - brief notes

The lecture will look at artists and designers responses to the fundamental changes that came about in our attitudes towards Space and Time. Before 1860, Time was considered absolute, that duration was the same to all individuals with accurate timepieces. Before Charles Lyell's theories of the vast antiquity of the earth, and Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species tracing the origin of mankind in the development of killer apes, life had its certainties. Developments in atomic physics around the turn of the century similarly eroded the belief in the 'solidity' of objects. With corresponding interests among most people in the role of the esoteric often shared by artists, eg spiritualism, table turning, theosophy, ectoplasmic emanation, how were we to come to terms with uncertain mass in ambivalent space and set in fluid time?

The Representation of Time;

J.L.David, Napoleon in his Study , c1798.
Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory , 1932.
The presence of the clock face,
W.Hogarth, The Lady's Last Stake , 1758/9.
J.Tenniel, illustration to Through the Looking Glass, 1872 ;
Giorgio de Chrico, The Melancholy of Departure , 1914;
R.Magritte, Time Transfixed , 1939.

The rationalisation of the new concepts took place in several directions,

1. The influence of C.W..Leadbeater on Kandinsky Munch, Kupka, Mondrian and Duchamp

2. "n"th dimensional thought and non- Euclidean geometry.

3. Associative attempts to render the flux of Space and Time, the influence of Henri Bergson and the idea of Duree.

Slides .

1. U.Boccioni, States of Mind, The Farewells, 1911.
2. Boccioni, States of Mind,Those who remain ,1911
3. Picasso, Portrait of Vollard 1909/10
4. Picasso, Ma Jolie , 1911/12

"In effect in our physical world we can know only three dimensions. It is not that only these three dimensions exist, but that they alone can be understood by the physical brain. In reality we live in a space possessing a quantity of dimensions.... We see what only we are susceptible to see, but there is much more to see." Leadbeater, The Other Side of Death 1903. The Cubist painters are preoccupied with "new measures of space, which in the langauge of the modern studios, are designated by the term fourth dimension." G. Apollinaire New Painting 1912.

The geometric theories of Maurice Princet, friend of Metzinger, Gris and Matisse, Essay on Hyperspace; Princet's influence on Doesburg, the will to film and the concept of 4th dimensional architecture. Influence of the hypercube on El Lissitzky

Marcel Duchamp and the New Geometries .

from the two dimensional to the three, by extension three into the fourth.

The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors Even, 1915-1923.

The influence of the Square, Kasimir Malevich and the Black Squre,

the influence of Edwin A.Abbott, Flatland, A Romance of Many Dimensions (see also Of Two Squares )