Ursula McLean
Three Dimensional Design B.A.(Hons)
Third Year Dissertation

“Energy is Eternal Delight”
William Blake “The Voice of the Devil”

Chapter 1: Introduction

In this piece of work, I hope to explore the various aspects of the influence of jazz upon fine art of the twentieth century. I will attempt this mainly with reference to works by major artists which are generally accepted to owe something of their nature to a jazz influence.

In the early twentieth century, the art world witnessed a great crisis of doubt and questioning which was to have far reaching implications for the nature of modern art. Artists rejected the standards of the cultural establishment and gravitated instead towards art conceived outside of the western tradition of high culture. Many sought to keep pace with the age by concentrating upon contemporary subject matter, issues and media. Simultaneously, a great rift appeared between abstraction and realism. Nineteenth century philosophy had a great part to play in this as did the spiritual revolution of the 1890s. The whole concept of art fell under intense scrutiny and the role of the artist and the nature of creativity became subjects of debate and contention. Meanwhile, art works themselves became far more conceptual, in many cases the process becoming more crucial than the product.

Jazz music emerged during the twentieth century. Its rapid development has paralleled the development of modern art in many ways and its influence upon the visual arts has been intimately linked with the trends I have just mentioned. In my dissertation, I hope to explore the influence of jazz upon fine art with reference to these trends, as well as with reference to specific works of art.

Chapter 2: “Art Nègre”

Chapter 3: Jazz & The Circus

Chapter 4: Jazz & The Machine Age

Chapter 5: Jazz & Abstraction

Chapter 6: Improvisation

Chapter 7: Conclusion