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The Liberation of Painting: Modernism and Anarchism in Avant-Guerre Paris


The Liberation of Painting: Modernism and Anarchism in Avant-Guerre Paris Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The years before World War I were a time of social and political ferment in Europe, which profoundly affected the art world. A major center of this creative tumult was Paris, where many avant-garde artists sought to transform modern art through their engagement with radical politics. In this provocative study of art and anarchism in prewar France, Patricia Leighten argues that anarchist aesthetics and a related politics of form played crucial roles in the development of modern art, only to be suppressed by war fever and then forgotten.

Leighten examines the circle of artists—Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, František Kupka, Maurice de Vlaminck, Kees Van Dongen, and others—for whom anarchist politics drove the idea of avant-garde art, exploring how their aesthetic choices negotiated the myriad artistic languages operating in the decade before World War I. Whether they worked on large-scale salon paintings, political cartoons, or avant-garde abstractions, these artists, she shows, were preoccupied with social criticism. Each sought an appropriate subject, medium, style, and audience based on different conceptions of how art influences society—and their choices constantly shifted as they responded to the dilemmas posed by contradictory anarchist ideas. According to anarchist theorists, art should expose the follies and iniquities of the present to the masses, but it should also be the untrammeled expression of the emancipated individual and open a path to a new social order. Revealing how these ideas generated some of modernism’s most telling contradictions among the prewar Parisian avant-garde, The Liberation of Painting restores revolutionary activism to the broader history of modern art.

About the Author

Patricia Leighten is professor of art history and visual studies at Duke University. She is the author of Re-Ordering the Universe: Picasso and Anarchism, 1894–1914; coauthor of Cubism and Culture; and coeditor of A Cubism Reader: Documents and Criticism, 1906–1914.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Preface and Acknowledgments

Introduction. Modernist Heteroglossia

Chapter 1

Languages of Art and Politics: Salon Painting, Caricature, Modernism

Chapter 2

The White Peril: Colonialism, Lart nègre, and Les Demoiselles dAvignon

Chapter 3

A Rationale of Ugliness: Cubism and Its Critical Reception

Chapter 4

Politics and Counterpolitics of Collage: Picasso, Gris, and the Effects of War

Chapter 5

Abstracting Anarchism: František Kupka and the Project of Modernism

Conclusion. A Politics of Form




Product Details

Leighten, Patricia
University of Chicago Press
Leighten, Patricia Dee
Art - General
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
32 color plates, 99 halftones
11 x 8.5 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Early 20th Century
Arts and Entertainment » Art » Europe General
Arts and Entertainment » Art » French
Arts and Entertainment » Art » General
History and Social Science » World History » France » General
Humanities » Philosophy » General

The Liberation of Painting: Modernism and Anarchism in Avant-Guerre Paris New Hardcover
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Product details 248 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226471389 Reviews:
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