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By Walter L. Adamson

This sweeping paintings, straight away a wide ranging evaluation and an bold serious reinterpretation of ecu modernism, offers a daring new viewpoint on a move that outlined the cultural panorama of the early 20th century. Walter L. Adamson embarks on a lucid, wide-ranging exploration of the avant-garde practices during which the modernist generations after 1900 resisted the increase of commodity tradition as a possibility to actual cultural expression. Taking biographical methods to varied avant-garde leaders, Adamson charts the increase and fall of modernist aspirations in routine and members as varied as Ruskin, Marinetti, Kandinsky, Bauhaus, Purism, and the artwork critic Herbert learn. In end, Adamson rises to the safeguard of the modernists, suggesting that their principles are proper to present efforts to imagine via what it could actually suggest to create a colourful, aesthetically gratifying kind of cultural democracy.

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Additional info for Embattled Avant-Gardes: Modernism's Resistance to Commodity Culture in Europe

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In general, none of the European nations was wholly inhospitable to avant-garde modernism in the prewar period, although the specific character of the political environments in Italy, France, and Germany certainly left marks on the movements that arose in their midst. Moreover, the sense of crisis was certainly stronger in Italy and Russia than in Britain or the Netherlands, which may partly explain why avant-garde movements were relatively less strong (and relatively late when they did come) in the latter nations.

Moreover, as we will see, the latter two positions were in some ways reactions against the first; treating them together therefore helps to illuminate them. In chapter 5, which considers the emergence of design modernism, I focus again on three individuals—Walter Gropius, Theo van Doesburg, and Le Corbusier—who represent differing approaches that grew out of distinct national contexts. Chapter 6 then considers the postwar Marinetti in relation to his revised avant-garde practices as well as those of the other modernist movements during the fascist period that competed with futurism for the favor of Mussolini’s regime.

1 Just a year before, a forty-seven-year-old Kandinsky had opened some autobiographical reflections by describing the colors that had made the most powerful impression upon him as a child. ” Such primal experiences, he tells us, had provided him with the spiritual resources that had in turn made possible all of his art, an activity that he compared to “hunting for a particular hour, which always was and remains the most beautiful hour of the Moscow day. . ”2 Despite great differences in age, background, and vocation, Benjamin and Kandinsky shared a sense that our experience of color offered special access to a kind of prereflective immediacy, that this access gave art unique value as a conduit to an absolute realm beyond finite experience, and that in such a linkage of art and spirituality lay the highest sort of happiness.

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