Art and knowledge after 1900

Interactions between modern art and thought

James Fox
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Vid Simoniti
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The essays gathered here explore the relationship between visual artists and various disciplines of knowledge from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day. They show how scientific and spiritual theories informed the evolution of abstraction; how psychoanalysis influenced the meanings and methods of Surrealism; and how, in the second half of the century, artists made increasingly frequent and sophisticated incursions into academic practices, including history, philosophy, economics, cybernetics, sociology, ecology, biotechnology, and archival research. These dialogues foreshadowed, and helped form, the now ubiquitous figure of the contemporary interdisciplinary artist. In investigating the myriad, and often curious, points at which art and other fields of knowledge met and conversed, the book offers a re-reading of some of the key moments in the art of the last century (e.g. abstraction, Futurism, Surrealism, conceptual art, documentary photography), while containing pioneering research into less-explored movements (e.g. cybernetic art, bio art, Afrofuturism, ecological art). Throughout, the volume poses a series of larger questions. Is art a source of knowledge? If so, what kind of knowledge? And, ultimately, can it contribute to our understanding of the world in ways that other thinkers should take seriously? Art’s incursion into other intellectual disciplines emerges as a principal characteristic of art since 1900, and a defining feature of both modernism and postmodernism. A rigorous and coherent new history of modern art, Art and knowledge since 1900 offers indispensable insights into a hitherto unnoticed trajectory from the early avant-gardes to the interdisciplinary art of today.

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