Modernism ushered in some of the most exciting innovations in art and literature, from Fauvism, Cubism, and Dada, to the novels of James Joyce and Franz Kafka, to such provocative works as Marcel Duchamp's Fountain. But Modernism also left many people puzzled in its wake. How can a routine bathroom fixture be considered a work of art? Shouldn't a novel have a beginning, a middle, and an end--or at least a story?
Whether we recognise it or not, virtually every aspect of our life today has been influenced in part by the aesthetic legacy of Modernism. In this Very Short Introduction, Christopher Butler provides a coherent account of Modernism across various aesthetic and cultural fields. Butler examines how and why Modernism began, explaining what it is and showing how virtually all aspects of 20th and 21st century life have been influenced by its aesthetic legacy. Butler considers several aspects of modernism, including some classic modernist works, movements and notions of the avant garde, and the idea of progress in art. Finally, Butler sheds light on modernist ideas of the self, subjectivity, irrationalism, people and machines, and the political dimensions of modernism as a whole.
Oxford University Press
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Series: Very Short Introductions
01 October 2011
1. The Modernist work; 2. Modernist movements and cultural tradition; 3. The Modernist artist; 4. Modernism and politics
Reviews for Modernism: A Very Short Introduction
A useful introduction, as lucid and engaging as it is concise. / Peter Blair, University of Chester