The years before World War I were a fertile period for artists in Europe and the United States who were challenging aesthetic convention in music, writing, and the visual arts. These early pioneers of modernism sometimes preferred to work alone, but just as often they were associated with groups whose boundaries were permeable and freely changing. While these individual groups_including the Futurists, Imagists, Blue Rider, and the Second Vienna School_have been thoroughly studied, scholars of the period have often neglected the formative and pervasive interactions of these groups across geographic and artistic boundaries. Providing a historical taxonomy of this influential milieu, Milton Cohen demonstrates how these groups were largely responsible for the artistic innovation and nearly all the avant-garde agitation and major events of these years. With concluding appendices intended for scholars and specialists, this engagingly written book will be useful not only for classroom use and scholarly research, but will appeal to anyone interested in reading a fresh approach to the history of early modernism.
This beautifully written study defines pre-World-War-I European modernism as an essentially group-driven phenomenon and takes us deep into the movement's social dynamics. How does one define a modernist group? Who emerged as leaders within these groups and why? What role did nationalism play in the desire of so many modernist artists to band together? The first four chapters of Movement, Manifesto, Melee answer these questions (and many more) and offer a fresh perspective on a subject too commonly approached in terms of isolated figures.--Steven Trout, Fort Hays State University