The Avant-Garde in Interwar England: Medieval Modernism and the London Underground

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9780195147186: The Avant-Garde in Interwar England: Medieval Modernism and the London Underground

The Avant-Garde in Interwar England addresses modernism's ties to tradition, commerce, nationalism, and spirituality through an analysis of the assimilation of visual modernism in England between 1910 and 1939. During this period, a debate raged across the nation concerning the purpose of art in society. On one side were the aesthetic formalists, led by members of London's Bloomsbury Group, who thought art was autonomous from everyday life. On the other were England's so-called medieval modernists, many of them from the provincial North, who maintained that art had direct social functions and moral consequences. As Michael T. Saler demonstrates in this fascinating volume, the heated exchange between these two camps would ultimately set the terms for how modern art was perceived by the British public.

Histories of English modernism have usually emphasized the seminal role played by the Bloomsbury Group in introducing, celebrating, and defining modernism, but Saler's study instead argues that, during the watershed years between the World Wars, modern art was most often understood in the terms laid out by the medieval modernists. As the name implies, these artists and intellectuals closely associated modernism with the art of the Middle Ages, building on the ideas of John Ruskin, William Morris, and other nineteenth-century romantic medievalists. In their view, modernism was a spiritual, national, and economic movement, a new and different artistic sensibility that was destined to revitalize England's culture as well as its commercial exports when applied to advertising and industrial design.

This book, then, concerns the busy intersection of art, trade, and national identity in the early decades of twentieth-century England. Specifically, it explores the life and work of Frank Pick, managing director of the London Underground, whose famous patronage of modern artists, architects, and designers was guided by a desire to unite nineteenth-century arts and crafts with twentieth-century industry and mass culture. As one of the foremost adherents of medieval modernism, Pick converted London's primary public transportation system into the culminating project of the arts and crafts movement. But how should today's readers regard Pick's achievement? What can we say of the legacy of this visionary patron who sought to transform the whole of sprawling London into a post-impressionist work of art? And was medieval modernism itself a movement of pioneers or dreamers? In its bold engagement with such questions, The Avant-Garde in Interwar England will surely appeal to students of modernism, twentieth-century art, the cultural history of England, and urban history.

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About the Author:


Michael T. Saler is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Davis.

Review:


"Descending, both literally and metaphorically, into the subterranean world of British modernism, Michael Saler returns with a fresh and arresting account of its productive contradictions. His impressively researched and elegantly written analysis of a cultural garde as much deriere as avant will force students of modernist aesthetics as a whole to reexamine many of their most cherished assumptions."--Martin Jay, Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley


"This major reinterpretation of an indigenous avant-garde aesthetic in interwar England challenges conventional views about the origins of modernism in art and design. Focusing on Frank Pick's visionary efforts to transform the London Underground into a 'people's picture gallery,' Saler movingly portrays the struggle of medieval modernists to integrate modern art and craftsmanship into contemporary life."--F. M. Leventhal, Boston University


"Saler's work reshapes our understanding of British modernism. Perhaps even more importantly, this book addresses many of the central issues in twentieth-century British history. It speaks directly to the ongoing debate about the formation and shape of national identity in Britain and England, and underlines the importance of regional and provincial identities in molding a sense of nationhood. At the same time, Saler's study extends Linda Colley's argument about the centrality of Protestantism to English national identity into the twentieth century."--Meredith Veldman, Louisiana State University


"This is an original, fascinating, and highly readable study that gives a new perspective on the history of modernism in Britain. Saler succeeds in connecting the visual modernism of the interwar period with the famous arts and crafts tradition of the late-Victorian years. The formalist definition associated with Fry and Bell, Saler shows, was not the only meaning of modernism."--Thomas William Heyck, Northwestern University


"Medievalists take note. Michael Saler brilliantly argues that the development of the London Underground in the interwar period marks the culmination of the arts and crafts movement inspired by John Ruskin and William Morris. Its medievalism, appropriated by the moralizing developers of the Underground, enabled the adoption of controversial avant-garde station architecture and advertising." --Kathleen Biddick in The Medieval Review


"This is in many ways an admirable study, wide-ranging, thoughtful in its treatment of crucial issues in modern art and culture, exemplary in its imaginative use of materials from the Pick archives."--American Historical Review


"Saler's book is an antidote to those who would either foreclose British modernism or define it too narrowly....The time is right for more inductive definitions of modernist enterprises; scholarship like Saler's enables better descriptions and fewer prescriptions."--Modernism/modernity


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. The Avant-Garde in Interwar England addresses modernism s ties to tradition, commerce, nationalism, and spirituality through an analysis of the assimilation of visual modernism in England between 1910 and 1939. During this period, a debate raged across the nation concerning the purpose of art in society. On one side were the aesthetic formalists, led by members of London s Bloomsbury Group, who thought art was autonomous from everyday life. On the other were England s so-called medieval modernists, many of them from the provincial North, who maintained that art had direct social functions and moral consequences. As Michael T. Saler demonstrates in this fascinating volume, the heated exchange between these two camps would ultimately set the terms for how modern art was perceived by the British public. Histories of English modernism have usually emphasized the seminal role played by the Bloomsbury Group in introducing, celebrating, and defining modernism, but Saler s study instead argues that, during the watershed years between the World Wars, modern art was most often understood in the terms laid out by the medieval modernists. As the name implies, these artists and intellectuals closely associated modernism with the art of the Middle Ages, building on the ideas of John Ruskin, William Morris, and other nineteenth-century romantic medievalists. In their view, modernism was a spiritual, national, and economic movement, a new and different artistic sensibility that was destined to revitalize England s culture as well as its commercial exports when applied to advertising and industrial design. This book, then, concerns the busy intersection of art, trade, and national identity in the early decades of twentieth-century England. Specifically, it explores the life and work of Frank Pick, managing director of the London Underground, whose famous patronage of modern artists, architects, and designers was guided by a desire to unite nineteenth-century arts and crafts with twentieth-century industry and mass culture. As one of the foremost adherents of medieval modernism, Pick converted London s primary public transportation system into the culminating project of the arts and crafts movement. But how should today s readers regard Pick s achievement? What can we say of the legacy of this visionary patron who sought to transform the whole of sprawling London into a post-impressionist work of art? And was medieval modernism itself a movement of pioneers or dreamers? In its bold engagement with such questions, The Avant-Garde in Interwar England will surely appeal to students of modernism, twentieth-century art, the cultural history of England, and urban history. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780195147186

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.The Avant-Garde in Interwar England addresses modernism s ties to tradition, commerce, nationalism, and spirituality through an analysis of the assimilation of visual modernism in England between 1910 and 1939. During this period, a debate raged across the nation concerning the purpose of art in society. On one side were the aesthetic formalists, led by members of London s Bloomsbury Group, who thought art was autonomous from everyday life. On the other were England s so-called medieval modernists, many of them from the provincial North, who maintained that art had direct social functions and moral consequences. As Michael T. Saler demonstrates in this fascinating volume, the heated exchange between these two camps would ultimately set the terms for how modern art was perceived by the British public. Histories of English modernism have usually emphasized the seminal role played by the Bloomsbury Group in introducing, celebrating, and defining modernism, but Saler s study instead argues that, during the watershed years between the World Wars, modern art was most often understood in the terms laid out by the medieval modernists. As the name implies, these artists and intellectuals closely associated modernism with the art of the Middle Ages, building on the ideas of John Ruskin, William Morris, and other nineteenth-century romantic medievalists. In their view, modernism was a spiritual, national, and economic movement, a new and different artistic sensibility that was destined to revitalize England s culture as well as its commercial exports when applied to advertising and industrial design. This book, then, concerns the busy intersection of art, trade, and national identity in the early decades of twentieth-century England. Specifically, it explores the life and work of Frank Pick, managing director of the London Underground, whose famous patronage of modern artists, architects, and designers was guided by a desire to unite nineteenth-century arts and crafts with twentieth-century industry and mass culture. As one of the foremost adherents of medieval modernism, Pick converted London s primary public transportation system into the culminating project of the arts and crafts movement. But how should today s readers regard Pick s achievement? What can we say of the legacy of this visionary patron who sought to transform the whole of sprawling London into a post-impressionist work of art? And was medieval modernism itself a movement of pioneers or dreamers? In its bold engagement with such questions, The Avant-Garde in Interwar England will surely appeal to students of modernism, twentieth-century art, the cultural history of England, and urban history. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780195147186

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Book Description Oxford University Press. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 256 pages. Dimensions: 8.9in. x 6.0in. x 0.8in.The Avant-Garde in Interwar England addresses modernisms ties to tradition, commerce, nationalism, and spirituality through an analysis of the assimilation of visual modernism in England between 1910 and 1939. During this period, a debate raged across the nation concerning the purpose of art in society. On one side were the aesthetic formalists, led by members of Londons Bloomsbury Group, who thought art was autonomous from everyday life. On the other were Englands so-called medieval modernists, many of them from the provincial North, who maintained that art had direct social functions and moral consequences. As Michael T. Saler demonstrates in this fascinating volume, the heated exchange between these two camps would ultimately set the terms for how modern art was perceived by the British public. Histories of English modernism have usually emphasized the seminal role played by the Bloomsbury Group in introducing, celebrating, and defining modernism, but Salers study instead argues that, during the watershed years between the World Wars, modern art was most often understood in the terms laid out by the medieval modernists. As the name implies, these artists and intellectuals closely associated modernism with the art of the Middle Ages, building on the ideas of John Ruskin, William Morris, and other nineteenth-century romantic medievalists. In their view, modernism was a spiritual, national, and economic movement, a new and different artistic sensibility that was destined to revitalize Englands culture as well as its commercial exports when applied to advertising and industrial design. This book, then, concerns the busy intersection of art, trade, and national identity in the early decades of twentieth-century England. Specifically, it explores the life and work of Frank Pick, managing director of the London Underground, whose famous patronage of modern artists, architects, and designers was guided by a desire to unite nineteenth-century arts and crafts with twentieth-century industry and mass culture. As one of the foremost adherents of medieval modernism, Pick converted Londons primary public transportation system into the culminating project of the arts and crafts movement. But how should todays readers regard Picks achievement What can we say of the legacy of this visionary patron who sought to transform the whole of sprawling London into a post-impressionist work of art And was medieval modernism itself a movement of pioneers or dreamers In its bold engagement with such questions, The Avant-Garde in Interwar England will surely appeal to students of modernism, twentieth-century art, the cultural history of England, and urban history. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780195147186

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