November 7, 2009

In their way, these movements were trying to save what they could.

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The number of casualties, the carnage and destruction, the area of irredeemable collapse – these were on an even vaster scale in the First World War than in the second, and that first Materialschlacht, the battle of technology and equipment, was unprecedented. In the surrounding disintegration of hopes and values, art, and especially modern art, emerged as a new value. We are too accustomed to see the modernist movements of the 1920’s – futurism, Dadaism, surrealism – as part of the nihilism and cultural despair engendered by the war. In their way, these movements were trying to save what they could.

- Sidney Monas



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1 comment:

LeRoy K. May said...

It's the first time I see those movements in a non-nihilistic way (I love them btw), but I find it hard to think that was their purpose, to save what they could...

For one, the Surrealists, Breton leading the pack, wanted to transform reality; in that way he might have tried to transform what good was left during WWI and make it pass through another era... but I'm sceptical.

However, it's interesting to look at those movements as trying to save something from the horror of war... but I don't see it :)