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Trivium is a free art history platform. Dig in, and explore 40,000 years of creativity.

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Bust of Five-Headed Shiva, 950

Ad Reinhardt wanted to create work “about which no questions can be asked” — images that represent only themselves. But we're pretty sure we can spot a cigarette in this untitled work, and pacman eating a mountain. Reinhardt's early work feels like an extension of cubism and the abstraction of early modernism. Later, his work would become severely minimal, less like looking for shapes in the clouds, and more like staring into a star-less night sky.

Early ModernismAbstract Art

UntitledAd Reinhardt, 1937

Piet Mondrian is famous for his rigorously geometric abstract paintings, but earlier in his career, like many of his fellow painters in the early 20th century, Mondrian painted landscapes. In 1911, Cubism was exploding in Paris, and Mondrian was vacationing in the Netherlands seaside town of Domburg, where his paintings of sand dunes and churches blended cubist shapes with fauvist color. 

FauvismChurch

Church Tower in ZeelandPiet Mondrian, 1911

By exposing photosensitive paper soaked in iron salts to light, Hippolyte Bayard created some of the first direct positive prints — beautiful impressions of ferns and lace laid. Sadly, Sir John Herschel invented the Cyanotype the same year, stealing yet another photography milestone from the unlucky Bayard.

Early PhotographySpecimens

Arrangement of SpecimensHippolyte Bayard, 1842

A still from Richard Teschner's 1935 puppet theater production Die Lebens-Uhr, "The Life Clock." The still image shows Teschner's unusual porthole-shaped viewer, giving the audience the impression they are viewing the production through a camera lens ringed by astrological signs.

DeathTimePuppetry

The Life ClockRichard Teschner, 1935

Jade cong are among the most enimatic Neolithic artefacts. Cong are found ringed around bodies found in China's Liangzhu grave sites. No language remains from the Liangzhu culture, so we don't know what meaning the cong had — but if you look closely, each outer edge is inscribed with rows of stylized faces.

NeolithicArtifacts

Heavy Jade Cong 琮3300 BCE - 2000 BCE

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