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Studying for a test? Prepare with this lesson on Modern Art & Ideas.
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We tend to think art is found in a museum, but it almost never begins there. This video is called Places & Spaces. A theme we will explore using three works. St. Paul de Mausole in the south of France was converted into an insane asylum in the early 1800s. As far as mental hospitals go, St. Paul was pretty nice. Gardens. Mountains. Tall trees. Quiet village. In 1889, St. Paul became home to Vincent van Gogh. A struggling artist in his mid-thirties who checked himself in after a mental break-down. It's interesting when you think about being in this sort of enclosed space but yet you're looking out into this very expansive landscape. What does that do to your mental state? As part of his treatment, van Gogh was encouraged to continue painting. So he painted. His hallway. His ward. His doctor. But he struggled with the night sky. Van Gogh began experimenting. He combined many different views from around St. Paul. Mountains. Cyprus trees. Houses. He used color. He used brush strokes. The result: perhaps the most famous modern landscape in the history of modern landscapes. I'm sure it really captivated and confused people, and I think that's one of the things that's really great about art. It pushes people and at the same time, kind of meets you where you are. Van Gogh painted the night sky in a way never seen before. Not still but turbulent, like van Gogh himself. Fifty years later, a different kind of turbulence was hitting France. Paris fell to the Nazis and Dutch born painter Piet Mondrian was forced to flee. He was in his late 60s when he arrived in New York City. It was love at first sight. Mondrian was fascinated. The skyscrapers. The electric lights. The people. And the music. In Europe Mondrian was a ballroom dancer. He listened to foxtrot music. He was a respected painter known for his increasingly minimal style. In New York he listens to jazz. He dances to Boogie Woogie. At the age of 68, his style changes again and he paints this. His love letter to New York. Broadway Boogie Woogie. In the 1950s Niagara Falls was where you went on your honeymoon, got your hydroelectric power and generally enjoyed all the benefits of a post World War II economy. Twenty years later, Niagara Falls was not where you went on your honeymoon. Industry jobs going abroad. Hundreds of condemned houses. Niagara Falls was looking like a lot of American cities. And that's what brought Gordon Matta-Clark there in 1974. Matta-Clark got a degree in architecture and immediately realized he wasn't going to be an architect. He's messing things up, he's blurring boundaries, he's doing things that are really unexpected. He used buildings to create his art and to draw attention. Matta-Clark in Bingo takes a derelict house, something that was slated for destruction anyway but then destroys it in a really fascinating way. It took ten days for Matta-Clark to turn the front of the house into nine equal sized squares. Like a bingo board. He's inviting us to shift our attention to something that you know, a lot of people don't see. He's not taking super sleek buildings to do this with. No, this is the crumbling, forgotten, swept under the rug. Of the nine pieces, these three were put in a museum. These five were thrown out of the back of his truck. And the last piece, the center square, remained. Until it was destroyed by a bulldozer, along with the rest of the house, a few minutes later. The place Gordon Matta-Clark created Bingo, the place Vincent van Gogh created "Starry Night," the place Piet Mondrian made "Broadway Boogie Woogie."