Ross School eleventh graders traveled to Manhattan last week to view art exhibits related to their Modernity studies. The juniors are currently learning about the climax of the Modern Era, focusing on the late 19th and early 20th centuries when modernization gained significant momentum and led to an upheaval of established perceptions and beliefs. The students visited both the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the New York Historical Society.
“During their explorations, we encouraged students to identify the characteristics of modern art discussed in class such as fractured imagery, vivid color, dream states, and absurd or shocking art,” English teacher Shelby Raebeck said. Works by Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Umberto Boccioni, and Wassily Kandinsky all challenged conventional traditions, lending themselves to such scrutiny by Ross students.
Also on the agenda were the MoMA’s Matisse and Surrealist rooms, with famous works that include Henri Matisse’s The Moroccans and View of Notre-Dame, Frida Kahlo’s Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair, and Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory.
“A highlight of the trip was attending Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938, because it offered students an opportunity to experience the art world’s first exhibition to focus exclusively on the breakthrough Surrealist years of René Magritte," Shelby added.
Students processed their experience by identifying ordinary objects transformed by Magritte in his work and by naming which Surrealist work was their favorite, and why.
The students wrapped up their trip with a visit to the New York Historical Society to take in The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution. The show offered an opportunity for students to see 100 masterworks that represent the avant-garde of early 20th century art.
“The original show [in 1913] was groundbreaking because many people were seeing works considered shocking or scandalous for the first time,” says Sara Hoegen, teaching associate for the Integrated Arts classes.
“It’s great that the students have an opportunity to revisit the works that caused such a stir and marked a pivotal point in art history.”