Utopia has long been a subject of investigation for artists, as well as a model for artistic collectives. In the early 1800s, artistic brotherhoods inspired by the medieval guild emerged, pursued the utopian tenets of communal work, and retreated to the ideal communities they established. By the end of the nineteenth century, utopian groups flourished, as artists, architects, designers, and writers embraced aestheticized experience and artisanal traditions in reaction to the unsightliness and commercialism of urban life. Following World War I, avant-gardes turned to the utopian notion of harmony they saw to be inherent in abstraction and optimistically endeavored to recraft and ameliorate society through art and design.
Utopia Matters is divided into nine sections addressing movements from the early nineteenth century through 1933, when the Bauhaus closed in Berlin and the ascendancy of Fascism and Stalinism curbed or negatively reframed such endeavors, and examines the evolution of utopian ideas in modern Western artistic thought and practice. The movements addressed will be: The Primitifs, the Nazarenes, the Pre-Raphaelites, William Morris and Arts and Crafts, Cornish Art Colony, Neo-Impressionism, De Stijl, the Bauhaus, and Russian Constructivism
Vivien Greene, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
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Morning Exercise (Utrenniaia Zariadka), 1932
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2010