Embattled Avant-Gardes: Modernism's Resistance to Commodity by Walter L. Adamson

By Walter L. Adamson

This sweeping paintings, instantaneously a wide ranging review and an formidable serious reinterpretation of eu modernism, presents a daring new viewpoint on a flow 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 probability to real cultural expression. Taking biographical ways to various avant-garde leaders, Adamson charts the increase and fall of modernist aspirations in activities and participants as assorted as Ruskin, Marinetti, Kandinsky, Bauhaus, Purism, and the artwork critic Herbert learn. In end, Adamson rises to the security of the modernists, suggesting that their principles are appropriate to present efforts to imagine via what it will possibly suggest to create a colourful, aesthetically fulfilling type of cultural democracy.

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Extra resources for Embattled Avant-Gardes: Modernism's Resistance to Commodity Culture in Europe

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7 Looking back upon the nineteenth century from our vantage point in the twenty-first, I would suggest that with the democratic revolutions of the end of the eighteenth century came a collapse of social hierarchies whose consequences may be summarized in four points. ”8 This new normative foundation obviously did not mean that actual relationships of wealth and power were equalized or that hierarchies of class, gender, race, or nation were erased. Indeed, to many observers of modernity the opposite has seemed truer: relationships of wealth and power tend toward greater inequality, and empirical hierarchies intensify as democratization advances and system capacities expand.

Utility” (Baudelaire) must make novelty its highest value. The arbiter novarum rerum for such an art becomes the snob. He is to art what the dandy is to fashion. . Newspapers flourish, along with magasins de nouveautés. The press organizes the market in spiritual values, in which at first there is a boom. Nonconformists rebel against consigning art to the marketplace. They rally round the banner of l’art pour l’art. From this watchword derives the conception of the “total work of art”—the Gesamtkunstwerk— which would seal art off from the developments in technology.

One is that we must distinguish between commodification and commercialization. To decide to produce art for a commercial market or to refuse to participate in it is largely a matter of personal intent, but whether or not one’s art becomes a commodity operates quite independently of intent. The Picasso painting or the novel by Kafka may become—almost certainly will become—a commodity irrespective of its creator’s intentions, and it will continue to be a commodity long after its creator is dead. Second, we will see that the modernists dealt with commodity culture in various ways, some seeking to bend it to their own designs rather than rejecting it outright, others opposing it straightforwardly and often vehemently.

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