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[<<] A history of the 20th century [>>]

By decade 1900s - 1910s - 1920s - 1930s - 1940s - 1950s - 1960s - 1970s - 1980s - 1990s

If - in the 20th century - beauty was exiled from the arts, it found refuge in advertising, fashion, cinema, product design and consumer culture. [May 2006]

Lipstick Traces, a Secret History of 20th Century (1989) - Greil Marcus [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK] [...]

This book is about counterculture through the ages, one of the key works of 20th century history tracing its roots to the Middle Ages.

Erotica 20th Century - Gilles Neret [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK] [...]

A collection of the best early 20th-century images from "Erotica Universalis Volumes I and II". From Rodin to Picasso and lots of others in between (known, unknown and anonymous) - the book presents a plethora of delightfully naughty pictures!

By medium: 20th century literature

General developments: civil rights - culture industry - history of subcultures in the 20th century - post-industrial society - cinema and film - feminism - informationalism - Modernism (which had its origins in the 19th century) - High Modernism - modern art - mass media - mass (re)production - new media - Postmodernism - sexual revolution - sound recording and playback - WWI - WWII

Modern art developments in the 20th century: Armory show (1913) - abstract art - Abstract Expressionism - anti-art - Art Brut - Conceptual art - Cubism - Dadaism - Expressionism - Fauvism - Futurism - media art - Pop art - Surrealism - Marcel Duchamp - Pablo Picasso

Musical genres in the twentieth century: acid jazz - acid house - afrobeat - ambient - art music - black music - blues - brasil - classical - dance music - disco - dub - electro - electro funk - electronic dance music - electronic music - electroclash - exotica - experimental music - folk - funk - garage - glam - heavy metal - hi-NRG - hip-hop - gay music - house - industrial - jazz - jazz-funk - krautrock - lounge - new beat - new wave - Northern Soul - no wave - noise - pop music - popular music - punk - r&b - rap music - rare groove - reggae - rock music - soul - swing - techno - trip hop - urban - world music [Jan 2006]

If the origins of art are to be found in religion, the movies are surely the universal secular faith of the twentieth century.--Parker Tyler, 1944, The Hollywood Hallucination

It is Camille Paglia's central thesis that in the 20th century (which she calls the Age of Hollywood) pagan popular culture overtook and vanquished the high arts. Thanks to advances in technology, pop became a universal language, as catholic in its reach as the medieval church. Once pop art embraced commercial iconography, the avant-garde was dead.

The rise of cinema and "moving pictures" in the first decade of the 20th century gave the modern movement an artform which was uniquely its own. [Dec 2004]

By Decade

  • 1900s The Interpretation of Dreams - Freud
  • 1910s WWI
  • 1920s The Jazz Age
  • 1930s The Great Depression, the nazis rise to power
  • 1940s WWII, resistance
  • 1950s Revival
  • 1960s Sexual Revolution
  • 1970s Disco hedonism
  • 1980s Digital Revolution
  • 1990s The Internet


    Twentieth century
    The twentieth century saw the domination of the world by Europe wane, as least partially from the internal destruction of World War II, and the United States and the Soviet Union rise as superpowers. Following World war II, the United Nations was founded in the hopes that it could prevent conflicts between nations and make future wars impossible. After 1990 the Soviet Union collapsed and the United States became the sole superpower, termed by some a hyperpower. See Pax Americana

    The century saw the rise of powerful ideologies. First with communism in the Soviet Union after 1917, which spread to Eastern Europe after 1945, and China in 1949, and scattered other nations in the Third World during the 1950s and 1960s. The 1920s saw militaristic fascist dictatorships gain control of Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain.

    These transitions were evinced through wars of unparalleled scope and devastation. The First World War destroyed many of Europe's old monarchies, and weakened France and Britain. The Second World War saw most of the militaristic dictatorships in Europe destroyed and saw communism advance into Eastern Europe and Asia. This led to the Cold War, a forty-year stand-off between the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and theirs. All of humanity and complex forms of life were put into jeopardy by the development of nuclear weapons. After out-spending the Soviet Union on weaponry, the US saw a collapse in the Soviet state, with fragmentation of the former republics, some re-joining Russia in a commonwealth, others reaching out toward Western Europe.

    The same century saw vast progress in technology, and a large increase in life expectancy and standard of living for the majority of humanity. As the world economy switched from one based upon coal to one based on oil, new communications and transportation technologies continued to make the world more united. The technological developments of the century also contributed to problems with the environment, though city pollution is lower today than in the days of coal.

    The latter half of the century saw the rise of the information age and globalization: dramatically increased trade and cultural exchange. Space exploration reached throughout the solar system. The number of scientific papers published each year today far surpasses the number published prior to 1900,[1] and doubles approximately every 15 years. [2] Global literacy rates continue to increase, and the percentage of the global society's labour pool needed to produce the society's food has continued to decrease substantially over the century.[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Age_of_Spiritual_Machines) --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_world#Twentieth_century [Jun 2005]

    Some Trends

  • Movies, music and the media had a major influence on fashion and trends in all aspects of life. As many movies and music originate from the United States, American culture spread rapidly over the world.
  • After gaining political rights in the United States and much of Europe in the first part of the century, women became more independent throughout the century.
  • Modern art developed new styles such as expressionism, cubism, and surrealism.
  • The automobile provided vastly increased transportation capabilities for the average member of Western societies in the early to mid-century, spreading even further later on. City design throughout most of the West became focused on transport via car. The car became a leading symbol of modern society, with styles of car suited to and symbolic of particular lifestyles.
  • Sports became an important part of society, becoming an activity not only for the privileged. Watching sports, later also on television, became a popular activity.
  • Mass availability of the telephone and later, the computer, especially through the Internet, provides people with new opportunities for near-instantaneous communication --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1900s [2004]

    Faultlines in 20th century art

    • Straight line vs the sinuous curve
      • Straight: art deco, international style, De Stijl, minimalism, cubism
      • Curve: Art Nouveau, Symbolism, Surrealism
    • Wit vs seriousness
      • Wit: Dada, Surrealism, Pop art, Postmodernism
      • Serious: High Modernism (literature, architecture, arts)
    • Cult of beauty vs the cult of ugliness (or sexuality vs asexuality)
      • Beauty: Art Nouveau, Symbolism
      • Ugliness: High Modernism, Pablo Picasso, Samuel Beckett, Abstract Expressionism
    [May 2006]

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