Ideas in the worlds of music and art have probably cross-pollinated from the beginning. The lush and passionate colors, rhythms, and themes of the Romantic painters like Eugene Delacroix mirror the lush and passionate melodies, movements, and moods of the Romantic composers like Beethoven. The serene and atmospheric feel of Impressionist painters like Monet finds sonic expression through composers such as Claude Debussy. Likewise, modern painting of the 20th century has stylistically acknowledged the progressions of jazz from its golden age of Swing to its highbrow peak into abstraction via Bebop to its fragmentation into Cool and Hard Bop.
[...] Synesthesia rules, and the painting swings.” Thus, Mondrian absorbed components of one of the important building blocks of jazz piano, Boogie Woogie, into his paintings, revitalizing his career in the process. Pollock and Bebop Bebop and Abstract Expressionism are probably the easiest movements in which to find correlations between the parallel developments of jazz and modern painting. For one thing, the movements developed simultaneously at the same time and place: New York in the 1940's. It's been noted that Jackson Pollock was an avid jazz fan and that early as 1945, in fact, one prescient critic . [...]
[...] Thus, more often than not, the prominent European artists of the day were delayed by a few years in their aesthetic reactions to jazz while American artists like Georgia O'Keefe were reflecting the influence of, for example, Louis Armstrong's musical innovations almost simultaneously as they hit the scene. Subject to this trend, Henri Matisse's residence in France delayed the influence of jazz being visible in his work by almost ten years. In his series from 1947, twelve years after Benny Goodman's historic Palomar Ballroom concert, Matisse shows how he's only recently digested the sonic conventions of Swing. [...]
[...] The bright, glowing colors of the Fauvs gives their painting an elated, lively atmosphere while the subdued, monochromatic colors of the Cubists imparts a stagnation and moodiness to the piece. Between music and painting, rhythm is the easiest component to correlate. In music, rhythm is undeniable, the sizzling chug of Bebop, the languid sweep of Cool, or the med-tempo stomp of the blues. In painting, rhythm is equally accessible. Nevertheless, unlike in music, it is not quantifiable. Lines within a visual composition, like the path of the notes on a musical staff, are the most indicative of a piece's overall rhythm. [...]
[...] On the other hand, the jerky, jabbing lines and sharp corners of Malevich's abstracted paintings give them a syncopated feel, off the expected beat. Finally, another component to understand is representation. In painting, this is more tangible; it pertains to the subject matter of a piece. Matisse's “Harmony In Red,' for all of its progressive abstractions, is based upon a figure in a domestic setting. In music, representation is more easily understood via the terms programmatic and non-programmatic. The numbered piano concertos of Mozart are not presented as correlating with anything of our tangible world, no words, no sonic familiarities. [...]
[...] Conclusion In the 20th century, jazz has continually infused new life into the dimensions of modern painting as a medium. As a form, it has expressed the social, political, and cultural changes of the modern world, repeatedly updating the conventions of painting in the process. Additionally, jazz, via the universal human language of music, has brought together such disparate visions as those of Miles Davis and Andy Warhol to ultimately enrich the work of each individual artist. Although the mediums of music and painting appear completely separate, their internal components are not. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee