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Author: Bernard Vere

This book highlights sport as a key inspiration for an international range of modernist artists. With sport attracting large crowds, being written about in the press, filmed and broadcast, and with its top stars enjoying celebrity status, sport has claims to be the most pervasive cultural form of the early twentieth century.

Modernist artists recognised sport’s importance in their writings and production. This book examines a diverse set of paintings, photographic works, films, buildings, and writings from artists in France, Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union to establish the international appeal of the theme while acknowledging local and stylistic differences in its interpretation. From the fascination with the racing cyclist in paintings by Umberto Boccioni, Lyonel Feininger and Jean Metzinger, to the designs for stadiums in fascist Italy and the Soviet Union, the works examined are compelling both in visual and ideological terms.

Encompassing studies of many avant-garde movements, including Italian futurism, cubism, German expressionism, Le Corbusier’s architecture, Soviet constructivism, Italian rationalism and the Bauhaus, this book interrogates the ways in which sport and modernism interconnect.

The spectacle of boxing and the geometry of tennis
Bernard Vere

was associated with Americanism. Although scholarship has tended to focus on the effects of this on the Weimar Republic, Querschnitt’s article reveals that the Germans were looking at the intersection of boxing and art already present in France, and here too, even before the Great War, boxing and Americanism were strongly linked. The great French heavyweight Georges Carpentier wrote that from 1908 ‘Paris 47 Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe 9  Georges Braque in boxing gloves and trunks, c. 1911 48 Adversarial modernisms experienced a veritable

in Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe, c. 1909–39
Bernard Vere

collective feeling. Suzanne Lenglen’s cancellation of a match disappoints hundreds of thousands, Breitensträter’s defeat sends a shiver through hundreds of thousands. Hundreds of thousands follow Nurmi’s race over 10,000 metres on the running track.3 In contrast to the three named innovators in the fields of dance and gymnastics, who were little known outside these areas, the three sportspeople that Meyer chose were household names at the time: Suzanne Lenglen, the first superstar 143 Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe of women’s tennis, was in the news

in Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe, c. 1909–39
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Why sport?
Bernard Vere

count 1 Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe of ten to determine the victor by knockout. This, along with the adoption of different weight classes, ushered in a much more regulated sport. The establishment of the British Amateur Athletics Association in 1880 and, even more significantly, the modern Olympic games, first held in Athens in 1896, also meant that athletics was regulated in a way that it had not been previously and international competition was promoted. Although tennis, soccer and rugby all had identifiable precursors these were far remote

in Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe, c. 1909–39
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Body politics
Bernard Vere

of his defining features for a futurist was ‘Anyone who loves the open-air life, sport, and gymnastics, and plays close attention to the strength and agility of his own body’, while the ‘Manifesto of the Futurist Political Party’ demanded ‘Obligatory and legally enforced gymnastics, sport, and military education in the open air’.9 It is 177 Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe not hard to see the connections between this position and Marinetti’s emergent fascist allegiance. It has long been recognised that Pierre Winter was also fascist. From 1926, he

in Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe, c. 1909–39
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The modern sports of cycling and motor racing
Bernard Vere

. All three artists shared an enthusiasm for cycling that pre-dates their works. In the case of Boccioni, this took the form of drawings of bicycles submitted to the magazine of the Italian Touring Club from 1907.1 But both Feininger and Metzinger were riders. Feininger owned a racing bike as far back as the 1890s. This was the era in which the bicycle was an expression of the Belle Epoque. As Eugen Weber 15 Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe puts it, cycling was ‘a pastime for the rich and idle’.2 Feininger’s bicycle would indeed have been expensive

in Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe, c. 1909–39
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The Olympic games and its rivals
Bernard Vere

. Self-consciously placing itself in the lineage of the ancient games, the revived version also relied heavily on technological advance, which enabled the competitors to travel internationally and facilitated communication within the modern bureaucracy that ran the games. The first games were held in 1896 in Athens, 115 Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe but the second and third games coincided with the World’s Fairs at Paris in 1900 and St Louis in 1904. Overlying de Coubertin’s admiration for the classical games was a high regard for the sporting

in Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe, c. 1909–39
French paintings of rugby
Bernard Vere

advocated a game based on handling seceded from the Football Association in 85 Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe 1871 to form the Rugby Football Union, leaving the remaining clubs to develop a kicking game and establish the world’s first national soccer competition, the FA Cup, in 1872. The teams competing in that final were Wanderers, a side with its origins in former pupils of Harrow School, one of England’s most exclusive, and the military men of Royal Engineers. The old school teams quickly lost their dominance, however, as professional clubs began to

in Sport and modernism in the visual arts in Europe, c. 1909–39
Tijana Vujošević

No. 30. Like those previously, this project was developed in close collaboration with government institutions, in this case with GosPlan (led by Strumilin, the inventor of time-budget studies and home inventories) and the Housing Committee of the RSFSR, which in 1930 explored desurbanist ideas in the context of creating housing norms. For GosPlan, the constructivist group of architects called OSA (Obedinenie sovremennykh arkhitektorov, Organization of Contemporary Architects) created a Soviet version of European modernism, a miniature version of Le Corbusier

in Modernism and the making of the Soviet New Man
Leah Modigliani

particular T.J. Clark’s The Painters of Modern Life: Manet and his Followers (1984) and Michael Fried’s Manet’s Modernism, or the Face of Painting in the 1860s (1996), and his earlier influential Artforum article ‘Art and Objecthood’ (1967) to show how, in Wall’s work in particular, Wall’s affinity with these concerns continued throughout his career, despite specific pictures having taken on new subjects and art-historical framings over time. The phenomenological relationship of bodies to objects in space that was important to minimalists was also important to artists who

in Engendering an avant-garde