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The Liberation of Painting: Modernism and Anarchism in Avant-guerre Paris
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The Liberation of Painting: Modernism and Anarchism in Avant-guerre Paris (Hardback)

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Synopsis

The years before World War I were a time of profound social and political ferment in Europe that deeply affected the art world. The center of this creative tumult was Paris, where many avant-garde artists sought to transform modern art through their engagement with radical politics. In this lively look at art and anarchism in prewar France, Patricia Leighten argues that anarchist aesthetics and a related politics of form played crucial roles in the development of modern art, only to be suppressed soon after the war and then forgotten. Leighten examines the circle of artists - Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Frantisek Kupka, Maurice de Vlaminck, Kees van Dongen, and others - who thought anarchist politics drove the idea of avant-garde art, exploring how their aesthetic choices negotiated the myriad artistic languages operating in the decade before World War I. Whether working on political cartoons or avant-garde abstractions, these artists, she shows, were preoccupied with social criticism.

Each sought an appropriate subject, medium, style, and audience based on different conceptions of how art influences society - and their choices constantly shifted as they responded to the dilemmas posed by contradictory anarchist ideas. Packed with illustrations, "The Liberation of Painting" restores revolutionary activism to the broader history of modern art.

Patricia Leighten is professor of art history and visual studies at Duke University. She is the author of Re-Ordering the Universe: Picasso and Anarchism, 1894-1914; coauthor of Cubism and Culture; and coeditor of A Cubism Reader: Documents and Criticism, 1906-1914.

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