White - Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries

Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries

The White Movement was the opposition that formed against the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War, which followed the Russian Revolution in 1917. It was finally defeated by the Bolsheviks in 1921-22, and many of its members emigrated to Europe.

At the end of the nineteenth century, lead white was still the most popular pigment; but between 1916 and 1918, chemical companies in Norway and the United States began to produce titanium white, made from titanium oxide. It had first been identified in 18th century by the German chemist Martin Klaproth, who also discovered uranium. It had twice the covering power of lead white, and was the brightest white pigment known. By 1945, 80 percent of the white pigments sold were titanium white.

The absoluteness of white appealed to modernist painters. It was used in its simplest form by the Russian suprematist painter Kasimir Malevich in his 1917 painting 'the white square,' the companion to his earlier 'black square.' It was also used by the Dutch modernist painter Piet Mondrian. His most famous paintings consisted of a pure white canvas with grid of vertical and horizontal black lines and rectangles of primary colors.

Black and white also appealed to modernist architects, such as Le Corbusier (1887-1965). He said a house was "a machine for living in" and called for a "calm and powerful architecture" built of reinforced concrete and steel, without any ornament or frills. Almost all the buildings of contemporary architect Richard Meier, such as his museum in Rome to house the ancient Roman Ara Pacis, or Altar of Peace, are stark white, in the tradition of Le Corbusier.

  • Poster for the White Army during the Russian Civil War (1917-22). The poster says: "for a United Russia."

  • White on White (1917) by Kasimir Malevich, Museum of Modern Art, New York

  • The Villa Savoye (1928-31) by Le Corbusier. Le Corbusier called for a "calm and powerful" architecture built of steel and reinforced concrete.

  • 'Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red by Piet Mondrian (1937 - 1942). Currently held as part of the Tate Collection.

  • The singer Elvis Presley began his career dressed in black, but in the late 1960s he switched to a more flamboyant white costume, which he designed himself, to symbolize his place as the "king of rock and roll".

  • The Museum of the Ara Pacis, the Altar of Peace, in Rome by Richard Meier (2006).

Read more about this topic:  White

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Famous quotes containing the words centuries and/or twentieth:

    Through centuries he lived in poverty.
    God only was his only elegance.
    Then generation by generation he grew
    Stronger and freer, a little better off.
    He lived each life because, if it was bad,
    He said a good life would be possible.
    Wallace Stevens (1879–1955)

    If the twentieth century is to be better than the nineteenth, it will be because there are among us men who walk in Priestley’s footsteps....To all eternity, the sum of truth and right will have been increased by their means; to all eternity, falsehoods and injustice will be the weaker because they have lived.
    Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–95)