As part of my post-WWI historical fantasy I wound up reading several books on the art of the era—
DADA AND SURREALISM by Matthew Gale starts in World War I Zurich as assorted artists and poets begin advocating for an art movement that will challenge and overturn not only established art but government and society, then follows Dada into the 1920s and its gradual transition into the more organized surrealist movement (unlike Dada, the big names insisted on much more cohesion in the movement and condemned those who didn’t follow it). A good look at what distinguished the two movements and how they interacted with each other, rival movements such as Constructivism and with the politics of the day (various Surrealists feeling Communist orthodoxy was an even higher calling). It also shows how neither the artists nor the public were entirely sure who was who in the movements, Dali for instance, becoming pretty much identified as the surrealist through his genius for PR. Informative, and useful.
BREAKING THE RULES: The Printed Face of the European Avant Garde 1900-1937, edited by Stephen Bury, is a somewhat more specialized (and less useful) reference, focusing primarily on magazines, manifestos and books put out by the Dadaists, Surrealists, Futurists, Constructivists, Vorticists and others throughout Europe. Certainly not bad in its own right, but not a sub-topic that held my attention.
THE FOURTH DIMENSION AND NON-EUCLIDEAN GEOMETRY IN MODERN ART is the second edition of Linda Dalrymple Henderson’s book on how theories of the Fourth Dimension (back when it was primarily conceived as a spatial dimension rather than time) and alternate geometries influenced the art of Futurists, Cubists, Dadaists, Surrealists and others, both in attempting to depict the higher planar perspective and more mystically (invoking the Fourth Dimension as the source of spiritual or artistic passion for instance), which Henderson showed overlapped with similar speculation among Theosophists and others. This updated edition looks at fourth-dimensional perspectives after the 1950s, Henderson finding a renewed interest among artists even before string theory and other advanced physics put multiple physical dimensions back on the agenda. Both useful and interesting (I’ve wanted a copy long before this project launched), though I won’t deny there are bits I skimmed over. Still for such a specialized book, it’s extremely readable.


Filed under Reading

2 responses to “Books

  1. Pingback: Wide Awake in Dreamland | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Dada, Scrooge McDuck and other books (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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