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Becoming Modern

Jan 14, 2013

by Cate Fitt

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Culture Shock 1913, a recent WNYC podcast, set the tone for my New Year musings. Listening to the stories plunged me into the past while I wondered about the present. The changes and choices that happened in the years before World War I and into the 1920s set the tone for the remainder of the century. It was a time when idealism and upheaval became enmeshed in life and in the arts. The result was absurdity, irony, and a strong dash of fire. I have lived through two-thirds of the century since 1913 and for me, Hans Richter’s 1928 Dada film, Ghosts Before Breakfast, represents this period almost perfectly.

[1. Miniature Chair by MiniModels 2. Igor Stravinsky Print by StandardDesigns 3. Tea Towels by riverwestconcern 4. Historical Manifesto Set by a4ds 5. Original Lithograph by badaman]

Riots in formerly sedate concert halls and American outrage at the abstract art exhibited in Armory Show of 1913 were fresh in the memories of some of my teachers.

[1. Vintage George Grosz Book from TedtiqueBooks 2. Two-Way Zip Dress by NostalgicBoutique 3. Vintage Dog Figurine by CabArtVintage 4. Zipper Necklace by ReborneJewelry 5. Vintage Toy Car from CollectiblesbyCarol]

The invention of the zipper and the production of the Model T exemplified the dizzying speeds of increasing mobility and the sloughing off of old standards.

[1. Vintage Fashion Book from coteriebooks 2. Vintage Pajamas from BygonesVintageRVA 3. Coat by ahShmata 4. Hat by yellowfield7 5. Bracelet from PerihanTufan]

Women’s fashions became sensuous and devil-may-care.

[1. Vintage Cup and Saucer from TheLostTreasure 2. Vintage Book from bookBW 3. Vintage Banknote from Room606 4. Vintage Bottle from ProhibitionWhiskey 5. Ephemera from RoseleinRarities]

Artists of the time sought meaning and redemption in social or creative dogmas.

The legacies of 1913 and the years that followed have been swallowed up by more recent revolutions and discoveries. When historians and scholars look back on 2013, what artists and musicians will be recognized as the ones who foretold the future?

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Historical Manifesto Set
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Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak - Vintage Hardcover Book - Mondrian Design Dust Jacket Mid Century Modern Cover Art - Russian Romance Novel
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An original Weimar Republic hyperinflation banknote designed inside the Bauhaus by Herbert Bayer, 1923
An original Weimar Republic hyperinflation banknote designed inside the Bauhaus by Herbert Bayer, 1923
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3 Featured Comments

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 6 years ago Featured

    I find it fascinating that so much of a time period ~ the unfurling of its contingent events whether they are welcomed or not ~ find its way into the art, fashion, and every day objects of the people living through it. Looking upon these items is like gazing through a prism into the past, bringing us closer and closer to an idea of not only *what* these people saw and felt, but *how* they saw and felt them.

  • ebkriley

    EBK Riley from DeeAndFee said 6 years ago Featured

    The changes in aesthetic outlook and art process in the last 100 years are really mind-boggling. It is important to reflect, at times, about the artistic past and notice how relevant and fresh much of the work still seems, in spite of all of the "progress" we have made. Perhaps there is a case here for the notion of classical beauty and forms that resonate through time. Certainly, it is always good to take a moment to consider beauty and enjoy it. Thanks for that chance today...

  • susantique

    Susan from susantique said 6 years ago Featured

    Because of my interests and my work, I own and live with items from nearly every decade of the past century. It's an interesting walk through human history, from the elaborate Victorian age and the minimalistic Arts & Crafts era, to the WWII years cheerful colored decors that brightened burdened sprites and then the psychedelic hippy years. With each passing decade we turned a corner.

68 comments

  • kgpaintings

    Kirsten Gilmore from PaintingsByKEGilmore said 6 years ago

    Interesting perspective--and an excellent excuse to look at the lovely items from the past century. :) Thank you for this insightful article.

  • memckeen

    LovelySquid from LovelySquid said 6 years ago

    My first impression on seeing this post was, "Magritte!" Love those Bowler hat lights.

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 6 years ago Featured

    I find it fascinating that so much of a time period ~ the unfurling of its contingent events whether they are welcomed or not ~ find its way into the art, fashion, and every day objects of the people living through it. Looking upon these items is like gazing through a prism into the past, bringing us closer and closer to an idea of not only *what* these people saw and felt, but *how* they saw and felt them.

  • messinabella

    messinabella from BandBEstate said 6 years ago

    great picks!

  • MajoReyStore

    majo rey from MajoReyLingerie said 6 years ago

    i truly enjoy this blog today!

  • ThePolkadotMagpie

    Polkadot Magpie from ThePolkadotMagpie said 6 years ago

    Great modern blog! Love those hat lights. I'm all about the modern design. Thanks Cate!

  • AlisaDesign

    Alisa from AlisaDesign said 6 years ago

    Really cool, love modern art!

  • Meliorey

    Mercedes from Meliorey said 6 years ago

    Fantastic post! Thank you!

  • DecadesOfVintage

    DecadesOfVintage from DecadesOfVintage said 6 years ago

    it was a time that is looked upon with a romantic eye for sure. great post.thanks so much

  • PomDecors

    ElleJay from 20thCenturyKitchen said 6 years ago

    One hundred years later, it seems their legacy is a public uneducated about art, and mostly indifferent to art.

  • vinylclockwork

    Scott from vinylclockwork said 6 years ago

    like the hat lights pretty neat stuff

  • FranceGallery

    France Gallery from FranceGallery said 6 years ago

    Really interesting items here!

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 6 years ago

    Interesting. Great picks. Love that teacup and saucer!

  • gescate

    Gino Escate from Gygante said 6 years ago

    WOW! really inspiring post! I love the lamps!

  • RivalryTime

    Phil Jackson from NuptialNotion said 6 years ago

    Great items. I love this.

  • mim4art

    Mim Golub Scalin from FritziMim said 6 years ago

    My foto here is of my Mom, who was born in 1914. What changes she's had in her lifetime - amazing - she'll be 99 on the 19th of Jan. I was thinking of her as I read this terrific post.

  • ThreeBarDGifts

    Monica from ThreeBarDGifts said 6 years ago

    Cute tea towels and toy car!

  • olusholaj

    Shola from YarningKnots said 6 years ago

    Becoming modern?!?! If there's one thing I've learnt from my kids, it's that us 'older folk' will never be modern.

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat from mazedasastoat said 6 years ago

    It would be fascinating to be able to look back & see ourselves as history sees us... so many of the things we think are important would pale into insignificance.

  • KMalinka

    Natalia from KMalinkaVintage said 6 years ago

    Great post :O)

  • Plastidermy

    Chris Evans from Plastidermy said 6 years ago

    Cate I always enjoy your posts and perspectives. Although we have evolved so far from where we were in 1913, this post still feels very new and something I can easily connect with. Our history is the the foundation and constant reminder of our evolution, thank you for reminding us of that.

  • HuellaHuella

    Fabiola Friedman from HuellaHuella said 6 years ago

    This is such an awesome article! :)

  • ShopRethink

    Joel and Erika Snayd from ShopRethink said 6 years ago

    What a great sense of history. Lovely read!

  • ebkriley

    EBK Riley from DeeAndFee said 6 years ago Featured

    The changes in aesthetic outlook and art process in the last 100 years are really mind-boggling. It is important to reflect, at times, about the artistic past and notice how relevant and fresh much of the work still seems, in spite of all of the "progress" we have made. Perhaps there is a case here for the notion of classical beauty and forms that resonate through time. Certainly, it is always good to take a moment to consider beauty and enjoy it. Thanks for that chance today...

  • stepbackink

    Sam from stepbackink said 6 years ago

    I love the change that is happening in all aspect of this business and it keeps me amazed and thrilled to see the next thing that would ride the wave. Nice article.

  • valeriephoto

    Valerie from valeriestitchery said 6 years ago

    "Culture Shock" was a great piece on WNYC. Your selections are very evocative and illustrative. Nice article!

  • MaruMaru

    MaruMaru from MaruMaru said 6 years ago

    These are awesome!

  • RetroRevivalBoutique

    RetroRevivalBoutique from RetroRevivalBoutique said 6 years ago

    Me gusta the bowler hat/lights. :)

  • Parachute425

    Terry from Parachute425 said 6 years ago

    Perhaps future generations will get some insight from today's graffiti artists and rappers. 'Ghosts Before Breakfast' - fascinating. And those bowler hat lights have been on my wish list for a while now.

  • butikonline83

    Hendri . from butikonline83 said 6 years ago

    This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.

  • tippleandsnack

    Tipple and Snack from tippleandsnack said 6 years ago

    Very cool article.

  • bedouin

    Nicole from Crackerjackarma said 6 years ago

    I really enjoyed looking at all of the great shops in this post !! Love love those bowler hat lights they are " brilliant"

  • RavenNJ

    Lise Stanley from TheEnduringAppeal said 6 years ago

    okay.. did anyone else notice the proto pipe included in that grouping? Its listed as a trench pipe. Its a classic pot pipe, American made but not from WW2. lol

  • EarthsTrove
  • LeatherheadOriginals

    LeatherheadOriginals from LeatherheadOriginals said 6 years ago

    I recognized the Proto Pipe right away, after seeing a new one(they still make them!) at our local head shop a couple months ago. They were invented in the 1960s, I believe. The bowler- hat lights are just WOW!!! I make and sell hats here on Etsy, so naturally I clicked into this article to see up close! Don't understand why the tea towels were selected for the Art grouping...HUH?!?

  • mattyhandmadecrafts

    Matejka Max from NattyMatty said 6 years ago

    Lovely!

  • LaraineRose

    LaraineRose from LaraineRoseHandiWorx said 6 years ago

    The bowler hats get my vote! Very nice!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    Victoria Baker from LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Some beautiful finds here, all of them strikingly geometric! There's still something very modern about that look

  • melirocket

    Melissa Huddlestun from BlackHeartAcc said 6 years ago

    Love those bowler lights. That is the most awesome thing I've seen in awhile.

  • poplovedesigns

    Andrea Hughes from PopLoveHers said 6 years ago

    I've always adored the whole art deco look, something about it keeps it modern and fresh, no matter when it was made. Loving that little red cloche too... I need more of those in my wardrobe ;)

  • mrjdesignsco

    Mr J Designs from MrJdesignsco said 6 years ago

    Thanks for using our hats on your blog, Really good read Mr J

  • magalerie

    magalerie from magalerie said 6 years ago

    Cool selection!

  • HedgehogProject

    Seonae Lee from HedgehogProject said 6 years ago

    great picks :)

  • QueenofCuffs

    mary from QueenofCuffs said 6 years ago

    This is a very interesting post. We are indeed at the same time 'change' a century later . . . what will the etsy readers of 2113 think of what we are changing now !!

  • janicewd

    janicewd from janicewd said 6 years ago

    Fun, historical post.

  • nat1489

    Natalie Jacob from EtymologyJewelry said 6 years ago

    Very cool!

  • irinisklavounou

    irini from IrinisWorld said 6 years ago

    'When historians and scholars look back on 2013, what artists and musicians will be recognized as the ones who foretold the future?' .... I would say those who, HOPEFULLY, manage to cut through the present preoccupation with commercial hype and celebrity, bring it all back down to earth, and remerge with the spirit of personal experimentation exhibited by those early twentieth century greats such as Picasso, Brancusi, Satie, Ernst, Arp, Modigliani, etc ..... The list is long.

  • irinisklavounou

    irini from IrinisWorld said 6 years ago

    I hope the artists of today are remembered for the triumph of substance over novelty.

  • lovelyfeverboutique

    Jessica from LovelyFever said 6 years ago

    Fascinating items from the past:) I can't believe that many of the pictured relics are nearly a century old.

  • irinisklavounou

    irini from IrinisWorld said 6 years ago

    I hope that today will be remembered for the explosion of arts into everyday life and that people everywhere will have discovered their own peronal artist within.

  • irinisklavounou

    irini from IrinisWorld said 6 years ago

    I hope that Etsy will be remembered for being an organ that gave birth to an arts based economy.

  • Splendere

    Pearlie from Splendere said 6 years ago

    What's modern today may be nostalgic tomorrow and vice versa - a sensational collection!

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie said 6 years ago

    Cool!

  • missvalscreations

    missvalscreations from missvalscreations said 6 years ago

    Very cool post! It is neat to see how art has evolved and revolved over the years!

  • susantique

    Susan from susantique said 6 years ago Featured

    Because of my interests and my work, I own and live with items from nearly every decade of the past century. It's an interesting walk through human history, from the elaborate Victorian age and the minimalistic Arts & Crafts era, to the WWII years cheerful colored decors that brightened burdened sprites and then the psychedelic hippy years. With each passing decade we turned a corner.

  • hasincla

    hasincla from travelwanderings said 6 years ago

    Very interesting perspective! I like to think that we'll leave some worthwhile things for future generations to think over.

  • nativestrandsjewelry

    Rachel from PeppersJewelry said 6 years ago

    Great picks!

  • shiriis

    Shiri Israeli from ShiriIsraeli said 6 years ago

    i really enjoy this blog today!

  • SomeKindOfPretty

    Catheryn Dallenbach from SomeKindOfPretty said 6 years ago

    Great blog! I love learning about history, especially during this time period!

  • knitfitt

    Cate Fitt said 6 years ago

    Thank you all for your comments and for pointing out that I had picked something that was completely anachronistic (since replaced). I hope some of you have taken the time to see Ghosts Before Breakfast. If you have, you will see why I thought the Bowler lights were perfect for this post.

  • WallArtCatalog

    Stella Kisvo from WallArtCatalog said 6 years ago

    Good historical article. Great info. on comparing Art in the past and Art in modern times.

  • sprouthead

    Aijung Kim from sprouthead said 6 years ago

    i liked this art history post!

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger said 6 years ago

    I love the hat lights....Nice look at the past!

  • StayArtisan

    J.K. Ramirez from HudsonBlueArtisans said 6 years ago

    Wow, cool.

  • bariand

    Arina Kushnir from bariand said 6 years ago

    Very interesting post!

  • youngfolk1314

    Ribo Flavour from riboflavour said 6 years ago

    nice information!

  • ArtofPri

    ArtofPri from ArtofPri said 6 years ago

    I have to say, those bowler hat lamps are pretty clever!

  • redgarage

    redgarage from RedGarage said 6 years ago

    My grandmother was born on Jan 1st 1900, and on her 82nd birthday,I asked her of all the things you saw growing up,what impressed you the most? And she said.....Scotch tape.-Priceless. Love those bowler hat lamps!

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