A Boatload of Madmen: Surrealism and the American Avant-garde 1920-1950

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9780500974162: A Boatload of Madmen: Surrealism and the American Avant-garde 1920-1950
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The American art community had its first glimpse of Surrealism in 1932. Its revolutionary art galvanised an emerging avant-garde. New galleries opened to exhibit the works of Surrealist artists, and new magazines sprang up to publish a startling crop of Surrealist poetry, criticism and attacks on mainstream culture and politics. Only four years later, a major exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art catapulted Surrealism into the cultural limelight and the attentions of high-fashion magazines like "Harper's Bazaar" and "Vogue". Soon the art of Man Ray was selling cologne and swimwear; and the manic Salvador Dali was designing windows for Bonwitt's and a pavilion at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Even Andre Breton and his circle, exiled in Manhattan during World War II, were unable to assert control over this new kind of Surrealism. In this cultural history, Professor Dickran Tashjian tells the story of Surrealism's remarkable sea change, from a fiercely leftist, strongly literary, avant-garde movement into an apolitical almost exclusively visual style. Exploring both high and low cultural perspectives, he shows how the American avant-garde selectively reshaped European Surrealism to meet its own agendas, and how it was in turn reinterpreted, de-politicized and commercially exploited by mainstream American culture and the fashion and advertising industries. Dickran Tashjian teaches in the Programme in Comparative Culture at the University of California, Irvine, and is the author of several books, including "Joseph Cornell: Gifts of Desire".

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About the Author:

Dickran Tashjian is Professor of Art History in the School of Fine Arts at the University of California, Irvine.

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French poet Andre Breton, founder of surrealism, envisioned it as a way of life, an upheaval of the unconscious that would foment a cultural revolution intimately linked to leftist politics. But with the resettling in New York City of Breton, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp and other emigre artists and writers, surrealism in the 1930s and '40s veered off in unpredictable directions. Painter/photographer Man Ray adapted surrealist techniques in ads for cologne and swimwear, while flamboyant Salvador Dali conceived of surrealism as a tool to tap the fundamental human experiences from which art springs. Art history professor Tashjian (UC Irvine) brilliantly reassesses the impact of surrealism on an emerging American avant-garde and on American culture in this intensive study. He focuses on three American artists?Jackson Pollock, Joseph Cornell and self-styled "Armenian in exile" Arshile Gorky?who transformed surrealist esthetics in their separate quests for artistic identity. Tashjian also charts the dilution of surrealism in American advertising, fashion and the mass media. Illustrated.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780500282854: A Boatload of Madmen: Surrealism and the American Avant-Garde, 1920-1950

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ISBN 10:  0500282854 ISBN 13:  9780500282854
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