Art Through Time: A Global View
The Urban Experience Compare: Why Has the Modern City Inspired so Many Artists?
Why has the modern city inspired so many artists?
In ancient Mesopotamia, the rise of the city inspired innovation. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, urban innovation inspired art. Both Caillebotte and Boccioni took the modernization of the city as their subject. However, their different approaches to that subject reveal not only distinct aesthetic goals, but also different underlying preoccupations.
Questions to Consider
- These two paintings were created less than half a century apart. The period that they encompass, however, was one of rapid changes to city life. To what kinds of changes is each artist responding? How do you think the artist feels about these changes?
- Caillebotte’s street scene might be described as more naturalistic, while most people would talk about Boccioni’s work as more abstract in form. How does each artist’s style help to express his distinct vision of urban life?
- In the history of European art, especially, cities have long been the subject of representation. Why do you think cities have appealed to artists and audiences as subject matter for art?