Kendall Owens, Malak Beydoun

The idea of contemporaries in other art forms is referring to the people of Duchamp’s time who had similar views on art as he did. Duchamp’s style was very unique and caused a lot of controversy from time to time. His art wasn’t always accepted by the public and other artists because it wasn’t what people always “wanted to see”. People argued that his work wasn’t appropriate for public view or that it wasn’t art. Duchamp had a different view on what he saw as art and a different approach when he created his pieces. His idea was “to choose an object that wouldn’t attract me, either by its ugliness. To find a point of in difference in my looking at it…” His work was sort of rebellious against what art was thought to be and many contemporaries in other art forms had the same views/ideas on their art form as Marcel Duchamp did on his.
Before (and during) the nineteenth century ideas on what art forms should be had already been developed. These ideas were very “strict” and opinionated. Artists stuck to these ideas and rarely ventured out to try something new. It wasn’t until the twentieth century when artists started to be curious as to what else could be done with their art form. Artists in various fields such as dance, poetry, photography, and music ventured out to be different and find something besides the normal expectations of what art should be.

Isadora Duncan
Isadora Duncan

Originally, everything in dance was classical ballet (or based off of it) or show dancing. It was very structured, placed, formal, and superficial. It was very beautiful and well accepted by the public. No one had ever tried doing something innovative with this art form until Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, and Loie Fuller came along. These three ladies pioneered a new type of dance called modern. Modern resembles modern art and music by being experimental and iconoclastic. It was developed in opposition to classical ballet. It rejected the structural formality and superficiality of ballet and worked against show dancing. Its goal was to inspire the audience through movements that came from within that had more feeling than ballet did. Isadora Duncan developed the idea that dance comes from your solar plexus, the soft part between your rib cage below your sternum, and all movement comes out from there. She intended to idealize abstractly emotions brought by music which motivated her, but her ideas were well accepted by the public. Her idea of dance was to “let the music move/inspire” you. She believed in feeling free, as did Ruth St. Denis and Loie Fuller. Denis focused on the pictorial effects of dance. She used dance to create images and also incorporated movements to suggest dances of foreign places such as India, Egypt, Asia, etc. Ruth relied on elaborate costumes (different from Isadora who wore simple costumes) and improvisation to suggest a magical feeling. Ruth St. Denis and Loie Fuller had common ideas. Fuller, too, experimented with costumes, but she also used lighting to create illusions and effects that were unique to the history of dance. Louie used dance to replicate and show natural phenomena such as a flame, a flower, or a butterfly. These three women had a tremendous effect on the art of dance. They developed new ideas and ways of dancing, even though they weren’t all accepted by the public. Like Duchamp, they went against the norm of the art form to explore what else could be done with it and brought out of it. They found more meaning and reality in their art form rather than going along with society’s expectations of it.
Louie Fuller's interpretation of a flower
Louie Fuller's interpretation of a flower


During the nineteenth century poets strived to entertain, to inform, and to put into memorable language America’s history, myths, manners, and topography, but they did not look to invent a radical new poetic tradition. Their poetry was based off of tradition. Early poets met the first great goal of American poetry. The goal was that poetry be able to compete in quality, intelligence, and awe with British poetry. But just as they achieved this goal, poetic ambitions began to change. By the twentieth century American literature had entered a period of regionalism, exploring the stories, dialects, and features of the many regions of the United States. Edgar Lee Masters was one of many poets to adopt these new forms of writing poetry. He achieved success, like many other poets, with his unique voice. One of his most famous poems was Spoon River Anthology (1915).

Edgar Lee Masters: Spoon River Anthology
Edgar Lee Masters: Spoon River Anthology
Robert Frost
Robert Frost

In this poem he used his poetic captions in order to capture the hidden passions, deceits, and hopes of Midwesterners buried in the fictional Spoon River cemetery. His poem brought death to life. Masters made poems more real for the reader. Another great poet, Edwin Arlington Robinson, had the same views/ideas and Edgar. Edwin Robinson used dramatic monologues (poems written entirely in the voice of each of his characters). Many of the monologues obtain the rhythm of everyday speech and reflect a Puritan sense of humankind’s moral corruption. Arlington brought something meaningful and deep to poetry rather than it just being words. Robert Frost further developed Robinson’s voice in poems. Frost’s poetry gave voice to modern mental constructions of identity without ever losing its focus on the local and the specific. He often wrote in the standard meter of blank verse, lines with five stresses, but ran sentences over several lines so that the poetic meter plays slightly under the rhythms of natural speech. These three poets contributed to the changes in poetry. They shared similar views with each other that poetry shouldn’t just be to entertain or inform- it should be something meaningful and real. Duchamp and the three poets have mutual relative ideas about how to expand their art form.


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Storyville was shut down during the time of World War I and this sent many jazz musicians up the Mississippi river in search of employment and they spread their genre of jazz as they passed through the cities, including Chicago and New York. This deacade was focused on mainly jaz music and it was quickly spread.
The American 1920s had many names: the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age, the Dry Decade, and the Flapper generation. Whatever the moniker, these years saw the birth of modern America. Many types of music were expressed in this decade but mostly the up beat music that even kids in the street would dance to. It was music for everybody, a very fun era. Bessie Smith was the greatest and most influential classic blues singer of the 1920s. During her heyday, she earned upwards of $2000 per week, a queenly sum in the 20s. During the 1930s, more genres of music started to emerge. The external image bessie_smith_8120660.jpgelectric guitar and was one of the first guitarists anywhere to to play the instrument in public. Also gospel and country started to become more versitille and spread in certain areas like Nashville. Another way music started to spread widely across the U.S. was through jukeboxes. By 1939, two hundred and twenty-five thousand jukeboxes were in operation and were said to be responsible for the sale of thirteen million records a year. The idea of awarding performers a gold record for a big selling performance dates back to1942. During a live radio broadcast, surprised band leader Glenn Miller was given the first gold record for his million selling hit, "Chattanooga Choo Choo." The award wasn't revived until 1958, for Perry Como's single "Catch a Falling Star." The first award for an album was the cast recording of the musical "Oklahoma."


Photography undergoes extraordinary changes in the early part of the twentieth century because of social and cultural changes; industrialization, political revolution, trench warfare, airplanes, talking motion pictures, radios, automobiles and more. Photographers wanted to create new and radical art in an effort to modernize photography. The develpement of the Kodak #1 camera helped photographers accomplish this sense of spontaneity and accuracy, corresponding to modern culture.

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Cartier-Bresson’s leaping figure in Behind the Gare St. Lazare reflects the potential for photography to capture individual moments in time—to freeze them, hold them, and recreate them. Because of his approach, Cartier-Bresson is often considered a pioneer of photojournalism. This sense of spontaneity, of accuracy, and of the ephemeral corresponded to the racing tempo of modern culture (think of factories, cars, trains, and the rapid pace of people in growing urban centers).

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Umbo’s photomontage The Roving Reporter shows how modern technologies transform our perception of the world—and our ability to communicate within it.