Thomas Linehan
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Responding to the visual arts
British fascism and artistic modernism
in British Fascism 1918-39
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As with other contemporary cultural forms in Britain, such as literature and music, the visual arts were caught in the throes of change during the interwar years, which was both profound and deeply unsettling to established mores and conventions. British fascism, though, unlike Italian fascism which incorporated aspects of modernism into its cultural and artistic programme, including Futurism and Cubistart, almost wholly repudiated intellectual modernism in the visual arts. Artistic modernism was accused of failing to respect the rules of harmony in art. Again, it is tempting to detect a sub-text of fascist ideology here and interpret this as a yearning for an ordered and harmonious social structure purged of the alleged discord created by class conflict. To Britain's fascists, artistic modernism, with its creative use of distortion, disintegrative images and general disdain for the traditional discipline of the art form, made a virtue of deformity.

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British Fascism 1918-39

Parties, ideology and culture


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