Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism

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9780300075328: Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism
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This work presents T.J. Clark's perspective on the history of modern art. It asks whether modernism and socialism depended on each other for their vitality, and argues that modernism was an extreme answer to an extreme condition - summed up by Max Weber as the disenchantment of the world.

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Review:

Modernism was always troubled by its epoch and this tension helped produce some of the most wonderful pieces of modern art. As soon as non-representational art began to dominate the art world the importance of art as critique grew. The critical element inevitably allied itself with those movements that defined an emancipatory project and, in modernism's time, in our time, that project was socialism. With what has been seen as the end of the socialist possibility with the fall of the Russian empire and its Eastern satellite states, and the subsequent confirmation of the bankruptcy of Official Marxism, modernism no longer had a project of realisable utopia to link itself to. Modernism has ended, like Marxism, without reaching its goals. But did they depend on each other? Was the fact that they were coterminous merely a coincidence? How did they interact? What was the nature of their mutual engagement? T.J. Clark's Farewell to an Idea is a beautiful, vital, polemical volume, peppered with stunning reprints, that charts the conversation that these meta-narratives had, investigates the art that was produced, and questions and improves our understanding of what modern art really is. --Mark Thwaite

Review:

"[O]ne of the most far-reaching and monumental studies of modernism in recent years."--Catherine Paul

"Farewell to an Idea is an undeniably brilliant and effective book."--Stephen F. Eisenman, Art in America
"A large and ambitious book, bountiful in opinions as it is in colorplates. . . . Farewell to an Idea is an undeniably brilliant and effective book. . . . Clark offers the reader very extensive, and sometimes very evocative, formal analyses of particular paintings--especially of the classic Pollock works from 1947-50."--Stephen F. Eisenman, Art in America
"[This] book contains stunning interpretive revelations. . . . Farewell to an Idea is an undeniably brilliant and effective book."--Stephen F. Eisenman, Art in America

"The most important book about art written this year."--Richard Dorment, Daily Telegraph
"[A] synthesis of three decades of Clark's thinking and writing about modern art. . . . [This] thought-provoking work . . . is well worth the effort."--Library Journal
"[A]lways thoughtful and often moving."--Karsten Harries, Art Bulletin

"[Clark is] and illustrious and insightful. . . . Make no mistake: Clark locates modernism unambiguously in a collection of cultural artifacts that actually are conjoined in some coherent manner; it is no mere analytical device imposed after the fact for the sake of making sense of those artifacts."--James D. Herbert, Art Journal
"Reanalyzes and re-interprets the modern art movement from its roots in Europe to the Abstract Expressionist school. Far-reaching and detailed, this book will surely alter much of the present scholarship and criticism on the topic."--Raymond J. Steiner, Art Times
"This remarkable book manages to summarize a complex century of art-making and in the process carves out an inttellectual vision of our historical isolation as we stand on the cusp of a new, unimagined century."--Dennis Reid, Canadian Art
"Without question, this is one of the more intriguing books on art history to be published this decade. . . . Written in the first person, Farewell to an Idea provides insightful commentary on such movement as Cubism and Soviet art. Indeed, the chapter discussing the work of Kasmir Malevich and his collectivist comrade El Lissitsky is particularly enlightening, while the work selected to illustrate the chapter is a beautiful reminder of the importance of metaphor in art. . . . This book, by an author who clearly loves painting, is as enjoyable to read as one imagines it was to write."--Choice

"This is an important book, for two reasons. The first is its comprehensive overview of the two-hundred-year history of modernism in the visual arts. . . . The second is the author's fundamental thesis that the evolution of socialism . . . is inseparably linked to modernism."--James F. Cooper, Modern Age


"The most important book on literary modernism in the last year was produced not by a literary critic but by an art historian. T.J. Clark's Farewell to an Idea: Episodes From a History of Modernism rewrites all the rules that have governed disquisitions on modernism."--Lawrence Rainey, Lingua Franca
"[This] book is exhilarating to read because, like everything of Clark's, it is clearly, almost seductively, written. What is more, it is shot through with his passion for the pictures he has chosen to consider."--Joseph Rykwert, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Clearly the best book ever written on modernism. . . . Clark is the best reader of difficult paintings that I have encountered. And his dense, scrupulous scholarship elaborates a powerful, intensely engaged meditation. . . . .In my view one simply cannot go on doing modernist studies without fully engaging both Clark's arguments and the passionate, anarchic utopianism that pervades the book."--Charles Altieri, Modernism/Modernity
"Clark digs holes under the ramparts of conventional art history. . . . His book challenges--he hopes it refutes--nearly every feature of the prevailing histories of modernist art."--Robert Herbert, New York Review of Books
Chosen as an "Outstanding" Academic Title for 1999 Choice Magazine
"[O]ne of the most far-reaching and monumental studies of modernism in recent years."--Catherine Paul

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9780300089103: Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism

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ISBN 10:  0300089104 ISBN 13:  9780300089103
Publisher: Yale University Press, 2001
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