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In his most ambitious endeavour since Freud, acclaimed cultural historian Peter Gay traces and explores the rise of Modernism in the arts, the cultural movement that heralded and shaped the modern world, dominating western high culture for over a century. He 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, presenting along the way a thrilling pageant of heretics that includes Oscar Wilde, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Walter Gropius and Any Warhol. The result is a work unique in its breadth and brilliance. Lavishly illustrated, Modernism is a superb achievement by one of our greatest historians.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099441960
ISBN-10: 0099441969
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 40mm)
Pages: 640
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 3-Dec-2009
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » A veteran cultural historian weighs in with an encyclopedic account of the fecund 120 years that engendered artists as varied and brilliant as Frank Lloyd Wright, T. S. Eliot and Marcel Proust.Like a playwright or director, Gay (Schnitzler's Century: The Making of Middle-Class Culture, 1815 - 1914, 2001, etc.) sets the scene and describes the principal players, then brings them onstage, watches them perform and gives them notes afterward. His range and erudition are bewildering - is there a modernist novel, poem or play he has not read? A painting, sculpture, film or building he has not seen? He deals with many players in perfunctory fashion, but to numerous others - the notables - he devotes a few pages each (there is room for no more tonnage in this tome). He begins with the "founders" of the movement - Baudelaire, Monet and Oscar Wilde among them - and moves on to the painters and sculptors, featuring van Gogh, Munch, Beckmann and Picasso. Then it's off to the writers, with special attention to Joyce and Woolf. In this section, he occasionally loses control of his usually restrained prose. "Like a seasoned animal tamer," he writes, "Woolf cracked her whip on her prose and made the most feral brute cringe at her orders." Proust and Kafka also merit much attention before the music begins and the dancers leap onto the stage. Mahler, Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Balanchine compose and cavort before it's time for the architects - Wright, Le Corbusier, the Bauhausers and others. The theater and the cinema follow, and Gay enshrines Eisenstein, Chaplin and Welles in his Modernist museum. A final ominous chapter assesses the effects of 20th-century totalitarian governments on the Modernists. He concludes with the rather patent commonplace that "the principal effect of fascism on the arts, then, was negative."An educational summary and analysis of a most miraculous cultural era. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Peter Gay

Peter Gay is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University and former director of the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers. He is the author of more than twenty-five books, including the National Book Award winner, The Enlightenment, the best-selling Weimar Culture, and the widely translated Freud: A Life for Our Time.

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