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Title: Cubism in the Shadow of War: The Avant-Garde...
Publisher: Yale University Press, New Haven
Publication Date: 1998
Edition: First Printing of the First US Edition.
About this title
This groundbreaking book provides a major reassessment of the history and significance of cubism. David Cottington examines the cubist movement and sets it within the complex political, economic, and cultural forces of pre-World War I France. Cubism, as a part of the Parisian artistic avant-garde, played an integral role in the turbulent Belle Epoque. The author focuses on cubisms relation to the particular discourses—of nationalism, aestheticism, gender, the social purpose of art—that gave meaning to the experience of modernity in Paris in the decade before the war.
In Part I of the book, the author discusses the "cubist conjuncture," the years that followed the collapse of the Bloc des Gauches. The Bloc, more than a parliamentary alliance, represented an effort of collaboration between the liberal middle class and sectors of the working class led by Parisian intellectuals and artists (future cubists among them). In the wake of the Blocs failure, workers withdrew into trade unionism and artists into aesthetic avant-gardism. Cottington analyzes this consolidation of the artistic avant-garde, its relation to the expanding dealer-centered art market, and the dominant and counter discourses of the day. In Part II, he considers specific aspects of cubist art and the cubist movement—from the conservative modernism of the paintings of Le Fauconnier and Gleizes to the aestheticism of Picassos papiers-collés to the collective architectural and interior design project of the "cubist house." These examples and others, Cottington concludes, reveal cubism as a contradictory and unstable constellation of interests and practices, sometimes complicit with dominant social and political forces, sometimes opposed to them, but in every case shaped by them.
David Cottington is reader in art history at Falmouth College of Arts in England.
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