Poetry displaced
Nijinsky, Delaunay, Duchamp
in 1913: The year of French modernism
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This essay discusses the work of Stéphane Mallarmé as a matrix of concepts, principles, and forms that spilled over from his arcane writings into the radically open nature of multimedia artworks around 1913. Shaw identifies these principles as simultaneity, supplementarity, identity-in-difference, chance determinism and the disappearance of the author within the collective and she traces them in three seminal works: Vaslav Nijinsky’s ballet Prélude à l'après-midi d’un faune (1912), Delaunay's and Cendrars’ La Prose du Transsibérien (1913), and Marcel Duchamp’s La Mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même (started in 1913). The impact of Mallarmé’s poetics continues to be strong long after 1913, as seen in Duchamp’s last work, Etant donnés (1946-1966), read by Shaw as a recasting of La Mariée, like Un coup de dés was a recasting of Igitur, in a chain of influences and references that project modernism into a post-Second World War timeline.

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