The Popular Culture of Modern Art: Picasso, Duchamp and Avant-gardism, 1909-17

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9780300058956: The Popular Culture of Modern Art: Picasso, Duchamp and Avant-gardism, 1909-17
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In order to explore the deeply ambiguous relationship between modern art and popular culture, Jeffrey Weiss focuses on the work of Picasso and Duchamp in France in the first two decades of this century. Placing equal emphasis on art and criticism, the book links Picasso's innovations in Cubist collage to the puns and topical jokes of the music-hall, the theatrical revue, and the daily papers, while Duchamp's readymades and Large Glass are reinterpreted through their relationship to the socio-cultural practice of hoax. Occurring throughout the avant-garde movement, the elements of parody and irony greatly influenced public perception, and miscomprehension, of new art. By analysing the hostile popular press - a much neglected body of literature that actually accounts for most of the early criticism - Weiss penetrates the cultural context within which a plethora of "isms" either amused or confused the public. Often interpreted as examples of ridiculous self publicity, Cubist and Futurist styles were put to parodic use in caricature, advertising, stage design and other forms of popular visual culture. This popular assimilation, not often considered in histories of modernism, ultimately reciprocates the role of the comic in Picasso and Duchamp. Located within the social context of contemporary culture, this major study is a fascinating exploration of what constituted the modern art of the avant-garde. The author's enthusiastic and scholarly narrative vividly recreates a backdrop of prolific cultural development and communication, against which the complex and controversial art of the early 20th century was to emerge.

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About the Author:

Jeffrey Weiss is research associate at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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