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Modernism: The Lure of Heresy

de Peter Gay

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408648,300 (3.66)2
Historian Gay explores the modernist rebellion that, beginning in the 1840s, transformed art, literature, music, and film with its assault on traditional forms. Beginning his epic study with Baudelaire, whose lurid poetry scandalized French stalwarts, Gay traces the revolutionary path of modernism from its Parisian origins to its emergence as the dominant cultural movement in world capitals such as Berlin and New York. This book presents a pageant of heretics that includes (among others) Oscar Wilde, Pablo Picasso, and D. W. Griffith; James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and T. S. Eliot; Walter Gropius, Arnold Schoenberg, and (of course!) Andy Warhol. Finally, Gay examines the hostility of totalitarian regimes to modernist freedom and the role of Pop Art in sounding the death knell of a movement that dominated Western culture for 120 years.--From publisher description.… (més)
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I was recommended this author, so I read the book to see if I like his style not necessarily the subject matter. So how did he do? Well I enjoyed the book, he presented his subject matter in a way that was entertaining and informative. Also made want to delve more into this movement of modernism. ( )
  charlie68 | Mar 25, 2015 |
so, I checked this out at a bookstore recently and was shocked to see Gay attempts to offer a synthesis (a singularity, if you will,) to the history of Modernism.

This cannot work. Modernism is not to be traced linearly.

However, after listening to the NYTimes Book Review podcast, I am intrigued enough once again to read the book. The NYTimes critics are such bourgeois assholes. I'll read it and like it to spite them.

I've always wanted to read Gay's history on Weimar culture. So, more Gay Reading. Great. heh. Oh sheesh. I better pick up his essays on Freud.
  dagseoul | Mar 30, 2013 |
De geschiedenis van een beweging die de westerse wereld van de twintigste eeuw heeft gevormd, aanstekelijk verteld door een eminent historicus.

Recensie(s)
NBD|Biblion recensie
In deze heldere en zeer lezenswaardige studie is de bekende historicus Gay spijtig genoeg verdronken in zijn eigen opzet. Hij wil een beeld schetsen van het Modernisme als allesomvattende kunststroming. De auteur bestrijkt daarbij een periode van 150 jaar en niet minder dan zowat de hele wereld. Hij legt de wortels ervan bloot en laat allerlei genres en kunstvormen de revue passeren. Gay start zijn verhaal bij de negentiende-eeuwse Franse auteur Baudelaire, ooit vervolgd voor zijn pervers geachte werk, en eindigt bij Andy Warhol. Wat er tussen die twee uitersten te lezen valt, is veel, zeer veel, en ook zeer de moeite waard. Maar het is uiteindelijk te veel. Op zeer persoonlijke gronden heeft Gay daarom uiterst belangrijke kunsttuitingen en kunstenaars weggelaten. Hij bespreekt Modernisten maar geeft geen enkele duidelijke omschrijving van wat Modernisme nu eigenlijk was, zelfs niet via de achterdeur van het post-Modernisme. Voor geinteresseerden een must. Zeer functionele kleur- en zwart-witillustraties. Uitgebreid notenapparaat, bibliografie en register. Witte kaft met werk van Mondriaan.

(NBD|Biblion recensie, A.P.G. Spamer)
  -Cicero- | Sep 17, 2011 |
This is both a history and a compendium of ideas about the arts and how they have changed. In it he discusses writers, including 'the Fascist Knut Hamsun, the bigot High Anglican TS Eliot and the hysterical anti-feminist August Strindberg'. As a child of Weimar, he admits with that 'Modernism was not a democracy'. The artists examined here are haughty autocrats such as Picasso or Diaghilev, or self-deifying prophets such as the painters Kandinsky and Ensor. His insights are suggestive and often scintillating and his style makes this enjoyable to read. Near the end of the book, As with most of Gay's non-biographical works this book provides an impetus for further reading and enriches the reading I have already done. ( )
  jwhenderson | Feb 10, 2010 |
A fascinating and authoritative overview of modernism across the artistic disciplines. Gay stretches the lifespan of modernism in comparison with other historians, finding its beginnings in the works of Théophile Gautier and placing its birth firmly with the publication of Madame Bovary and Les Fleurs du Mal; he extends the modernist project well into the 1960s with Liechtenstein and Warhol identified as continuing to produce work modernist in flavour. Gay is exceptionally good at identifying, whether in architecture, dance or poetry, the essential qualities of the work that make it modernist; this skill is particularly apparent in the chapter on anti-modern modernists such as Hamsun and Eliot, who applied the innovations of modernism to support deeply conservative opinions. One of Gay's key defining characteristics of modernism is elitism, the need for modernism to define itself as high culture by establishing an oppositional low culture. In my view this point is stretched a little, especially when considering Liechtenstein as an artist who has combined high and low culture in his work and also as a modernist. However, this does not undermine the narrative of the origins, development and decline of modernism, though all its byways and aberrations, which is beautifully constructed and a pleasure to read. ( )
  catalpa | Oct 12, 2008 |
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Historian Gay explores the modernist rebellion that, beginning in the 1840s, transformed art, literature, music, and film with its assault on traditional forms. Beginning his epic study with Baudelaire, whose lurid poetry scandalized French stalwarts, Gay traces the revolutionary path of modernism from its Parisian origins to its emergence as the dominant cultural movement in world capitals such as Berlin and New York. This book presents a pageant of heretics that includes (among others) Oscar Wilde, Pablo Picasso, and D. W. Griffith; James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and T. S. Eliot; Walter Gropius, Arnold Schoenberg, and (of course!) Andy Warhol. Finally, Gay examines the hostility of totalitarian regimes to modernist freedom and the role of Pop Art in sounding the death knell of a movement that dominated Western culture for 120 years.--From publisher description.

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