Modernity and Nostalgia: Art and Politics in France Between the Wars

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Overview

Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century France is generally thought of as the embodiment of artistic modernism. However, in this original and perceptive study, Romy Golan argues that, after the First World War, traumatized by the experience of the trenches and then by the stranglehold of the Depression, France suffered a crisis of confidence so profound that it initiated a period of cultural, political, and economic retrenchment that lasted into the Vichy years. Golan argues that reactionary issues such as anti-urbanism, the return to the soil, regionalism, corporatism, xenophobia, and doubts about the new technology became central to cultural and art-historical discourse. Focusing on the overlap of avant-garde and middle-of-the-road production, she investigates the import of these issues not only in, painting, sculpture, and architecture (concentrating on the work of Leger, Picasso, Le Corbusier, Ozenfant, Derain, the Surrealists, and the so-called naifs), but also in the decorative arts, in the spectacle of world and colonial fairs, and in literature. Throughout she finds evidence that artists turned from the aesthetics of the machine age toward a more organic, naturalistic art. This leads her to ask whether the famous and momentous shift of the avant-garde from Paris to New York in 1939 did not, in fact, begin two decades earlier, in 1918. According to Golan, it was in democratic France of this period, rather than in Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany, that one finds the most compelling demonstration of the hidden interaction of art and ideology.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300063509
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Series: Yale Publications in the History of Art Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 242
  • Product dimensions: 7.98 (w) x 10.39 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Table of Contents

acknowledgments
preface
1 france revisited: landscape as lieu de memoire 1
2 rusticizing the modern 23
3 a crisis of confidence: from machinism to the organic 61
4 the return to man 85
5 at the fairs 105
6 in defense of french art 137
conclusion: a moralized tale 155
notes 164
bibliography 211
index 219
photograph credits 228
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