Is it artistically strong? Is it good as a picture? There was a time when I might have written in this way with a declared social object. That is all gone by. I have no longer a spark of social enthusiasm. Art is all I now care for, and as art I wish my work to be judged. (Gissing, 1930 , The Unclassed )
As a method, realism is a complete failure. (Oscar Wilde, 1891, ‘The Decay of Lying’)
From Realism to modernism
The group of writers that we have focused on in previous chapters regarded themselves as living in a new age which needed a new kind of
This book consists of 50 categories arranged in alphabetical order centred on film modernism. Each category, though autonomous, interacts, intersects, juxtaposes with the others, entering into a dialogue with them and in so doing creates connections, illuminations, associations and rhymes which may not have arisen in a more conventional framework. The categories refer to particular films and directors that raise questions related to modernism, and, inevitably thereby to classicism. The book is more in the way of questions and speculations than answers and conclusions. Its intention is to stimulate not simply by the substance of what is said, but by the way it is said and structured. Most attention is given to the works of Michelangelo Antonioni, Bernardo Bertolucci, John Ford, Jean-Luc Godard, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, João César Monteiro, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Nicholas Ray, Alain Resnais, Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti and Orson Welles. The apparent arbitrary order and openness of the book, based as it is on the alphabet is indebted to Jean-Luc Godard’s interrogation of History and of film history especially true in his stunning Histoire(s) du cinema.
This book is about Ford Madox Ford, a hero of the modernist literary revolution. Ford is a fascinating and fundamental figure of the time; not only because, as a friend and critic of Ezra Pound and Joseph Conrad, editor of the English Review and author of The Good Soldier, he shaped the development of literary modernism. But, as the grandson of Ford Madox Brown and son of a German music critic, he also manifested formative links with mainland European culture and the visual arts. In Ford there is the chance to explore continuity in artistic life at the turn of the last century, as well as the more commonly identified pattern of crisis in the time. The argument throughout the book is that modernism possesses more than one face. Setting Ford in his cultural and historical context, the opening chapter debates the concept of fragmentation in modernism; later chapters discuss the notion of the personal narrative, and war writing. Ford's literary technique is studied comparatively and plot summaries of his major books (The Good Soldier and Parade's End) are provided, as is a brief biography.
1913: The Year of French Modernism is the first book to respond to two deceptively simple questions: “What constituted modernism in France?” and “What is the place of France on the map of global modernism?” Taking its cue from the seminal year 1913, an annus mirabilis for French modernism with the publication of Du côté de chez Swann, Alcools, La Prose du Transsibérien, among others, the book captures a snapshot of vibrant creativity in France and a crucial moment for the quickly emerging modernism throughout the world. While studies on modernism have turned increasingly toward neglected, peripheral, national traditions in order to illuminate modernism as a global phenomenon, this book offers a view of one of modernism’s central occurrences, the French. 1913: The Year of French Modernism shows that even ostensibly central manifestations of modernism remain to be explored, demonstrates how the global is embedded in the regional, and finally reconstructs and rethinks the centrality of France for modernism as well as the meaning of centrality all together for a global phenomenon. Essays from specialists on works of literature, art, photography, and cinema, that were created or made public on and around 1913 in France outline the physiognomy of French modernism: its protagonists, strategies, and genres, its dynamics, themes, and legacies.
Modernisms: ‘good design’ and ‘bad design’
Osbert Lancaster, cartoonist and satirist of the suburbs, provided rich
examples of two very different ‘modern’ tendencies in the design of the
interwar home: the ‘Functional’ and the ‘Modernistic’. These images
appeared in his Homes Sweet Homes (1939), a satirical look into the history
of the interior of the British house.1
In ‘Functional’ (Figure 3.1) a weedy, pipe-smoking, intellectual man
in a scratchy tweed jacket, book in hand, is depicted all alone, perched
uncomfortably on a stool by Finnish Modernist designer
Ralph Hotere and ‘New Commonwealth Internationalism’
Māori artists is productive. Through a focus on the work and
travel of artist Ralph Hotere, the chapter illustrates the
possibilities of indigenous modernism – and of creativity
more broadly – as a decolonising process within settler
societies. It also highlights the need to understand decolonisation
through a transnational lens. First, an approach that moves beyond
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.
1 Beyond political modernism
2 The key political modernist auteur: Jean-Luc Godard with
Eddie Constantine and Anna Karina on the set of Alphaville (1965)
n an important article written in 1972, Peter Wollen set forth
the stakes of a counter-cinema that could be opposed to what he
referred to as orthodox cinema (Wollen 1985). He proceeded to
map the ‘seven deadly sins’ of orthodox cinema in order to oppose
them directly to the ‘seven cardinal virtues’ of counter-cinema. The
opposition declared here was one that, in time, became known as
the discourse of
Modernism and postmodernism
‘Modernism’ is a term usually reserved for a set of movements in
the arts that began in the latter part of the nineteenth century
in Europe, gained a particular momentum in the early years of
the twentieth century and continued to flourish until at least the
middle of the twentieth century, the periodisation being dependent on when one believes that a new set of aesthetic strategies and
products, dubbed postmodernist, began. As we will see, for many
commentators postmodernism in the arts was, by and large, a continuation of modernism
Modernism and postmodernism
O gentlemen, the time of life is short!
If life did ride upon a dial’s point,
Still ending at the arrival of an hour.
And if we live, we live to tread on kings.
William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1 5.2.82–7.
So we should not expect Foucault to give us a philosophical theory that
deploys … notions. Still, philosophy is more than theories.
‘Foucault and Epistemology’ by Richard Rorty in David Couzens Hoy
(ed.), Foucault: A Critical Reader1
Foucault: the catcher in the modern rye
When discussing modernity, one