The transnational hierarchies and networks of the artistic avant-garde ca. 1885-1915

Cottington, David (2018) The transnational hierarchies and networks of the artistic avant-garde ca. 1885-1915. In: Jalava, Marja , Nygard, Stefan and Strang, Johann, (eds.) Decentering European intellectual space. Leiden, Netherlands : Brill. pp. 65-87. (European studies, (35)) ISBN 9789004364530


‘Avant-garde’ is a concept, and ‘the avant-garde’ has a history, which have both functioned as among the primary means not only of disseminating the cultural paradigm of ‘modernism’, of determining its qualities and assessing its achievements, but also of producing the asymmetries of cultural power with which this book is concerned. Yet for most of its existence the historiography of modern art has sorely lacked analysis of the concept or the history of one of its key terms, that of ‘the avant-garde’. This chapter offers such an analysis. It discusses the avant-garde as a (socio-cultural) formation, and assesses the changing relations between the nodes of the network that this process had established by the start of the first world war. The first part analyses the character and dynamic of this with reference to the emergence and consolidation of the Parisian artistic avant-garde, and suggests how the factors that made Paris the ‘artistic centre of the West’ also contributed to this being the first such formation to appear in Europe. The second part explores the relations between the avant-garde of Paris, as the central site of modernist art practice, and that of London as one ‘peripheral,’ satellite of it, in the decade before 1914, and assesses the character of this peripherality. The third part explores the role of cubist painting, its assimilation as the lingua franca of modernism by avant-garde artists across Europe in the five years from 1910, and its role in first consolidating, and then initiating the dismantling of, the ‘centre-periphery’ character of the pan-European avant-garde network as a whole.

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page