1. The De Stijl Art Movement was a Dutch movement founded in 1917 in Amsterdam. Originally a publication, De Stijl (meaning “style” in Dutch), was created by two pioneers of abstract art, Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg. The magazine De Stijl became a vehicle for Mondrian’s ideas on art, and in a series of articles in the first year’s issues he defined his aims and used, perhaps for the first time, the term neo-plasticism. This became the name for the type of abstract art that he and the De Stijl circle practiced. Proponents of De Stijl advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour. They simplified visual compositions to vertical and horizontal, using only black, white and primary colours. The movement had a profound influence on the development both of abstract art and modern architecture and design.
Other members of the group included Bart van der Leck, Vantongerloo and Vordemberge-Gildewart, as well as the architects Gerrit Rietveld and JJP Oud. Mondrian withdrew from De Stijl in 1923 following Van Doesburg’s adoption of diagonal elements in his work. Van Doesburg continued the publication until 1931. (Tate)
2. Wabi-Sabi is a term used to describe a type of Japanese aesthetics and has been associated with Zen Buddhism as it exemplifies many of Zen’s core spiritual and philosophical tenets. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Emerging in the 15th century in Japan as a reaction to the prevailing aesthetic of lavishness, ornamentation, and rich materials, wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all. An example of this can be seen in certain styles of Japanese pottery. In the Japanese tea ceremony, the pottery items used are often rustic and simple-looking. Hagi ware pottery for example have shapes that are not quite symmetrical, and colours or textures that appear to emphasize an unrefined or simple style. Other examples of wabi-sabi include Honkyoku (traditional shakuhachi music of wandering Zen monks), Ikebana (the art of flower arrangement), Japanese gardens, Zen and bonsai (tray) gardens and Japanese poetry. (Wikipedia, Utne Reader)
3. Women and the Arts: In 1976, at the peak of her career, Georgia O’Keeffe refused to lend her work to a pivotal exhibition in Los Angeles, Women Artists: 1550 to 1950. It was one of a wave of all-female shows that decade — some 150 — to spotlight artists largely ignored by major museums and galleries. But O’Keeffe, the most famous female artist of her day, saw herself in a different category — “one of the best painters,” period.
The feminist art historian Linda Nochlin borrowed an O’Keeffe painting elsewhere and put her in the show anyway. Yet despite these exhibitions, neither O’Keeffe nor any other woman would break into Janson’s History of Art, the leading textbook, until 1987, and equality remained elusive. (New York Times)
4. The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh was painted in June 1889, one year before his death. It depicts the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence where he voluntarily admitted himself after the self-mutilation of his ear. The painting is a combination of van Gogh’s direct observations as well as his imagination, memories, and emotions. The steeple of the church, for example, resembles those common in his native Holland, rather than those in France. The whirling forms in the sky, on the other hand, match published astronomical observations of clouds of dust and gas known as nebulae. (Moma, Wikipedia)
5. Fluxus – Founded in 1960 by Lithuanian/American artist George Maciunas, Fluxus was a small international network of artists and composers who challenged accepted ideas about what art is. Rooted in experimental music, it was named after a magazine which featured the work of musicians and artists centred around avant-garde composer John Cage.
Almost every avant-garde artist of the time took part in Fluxus, including Joseph Beuys, Dick Higgins, Alice Hutchins, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Ben Vautier, Robert Watts, Benjamin Patterson and Emmett Williams.
Fluxus had no single unifying style. Its artists used a range of media and processes adopting a ‘do-it-yourself’ attitude to creative activity, often staging random performances and using whatever materials were at hand to make art. Seeing themselves as an alternative to academic art and music, Fluxus was a democratic form of creativity open to anyone. Collaborations were encouraged between artists and across art forms, and also with the audience or spectator. It valued simplicity and anti-commercialism, with chance and humour playing a big part in the creation of works. The fluxus network still continues today. (Tate)