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19 - The avant-garde in early twentieth-century Europe

from IV - Later nineteenth-century developments: Realism, Naturalism, Symbolism and Decadence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2013

M. A. R. Habib
Affiliation:
Rutgers University, New Jersey
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Summary

This chapter offers a succinct account of avant-garde activity in Europe during the first decades of the twentieth century. In France, and especially in Paris, artistic innovation had been nurtured since at least the 1880s, under the aegis of Decadence, Symbolism and Impressionism. The war in Europe and the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 brought a dramatic impetus to the Russian avant-gardists, who strove to assert their relevance to the contemporary situation. In fact, the pragmatic politics of the Bolsheviks set them an impossible challenge, pressurizing them to justify their art-making. Vorticism in England was a brief and rather self-conscious offshoot of Italian Futurism. The short-lived phenomenon known as Dadaism represents a case of an almost ubiquitous European avant-garde movement. One of Dadaism's defining characteristics was its antagonism to the narrow nationalism which underlay the conflicts of the First World War.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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