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'All the beauties of the world': modernism, seen from twentieth-century Prague
jeudi 13 juin 2013

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Conférence donnée par Derek Sayer dans le cadre du colloque "Global art history and the peripheries", organisé par le Artl@s project à l'ENS.

Despite being at the forefront of European modernism during the first half of the twentieth century, Czech avant-gardes largely disappeared from the Anglophone art-historical record after 1945. That erasure has been partially redressed through a series of major exhibitions, key translations, and monograph publications on both sides of the Atlantic since the fall of communism in 1989. The problem today is no longer what we have forgotten, but how we remember. Focusing on Devětsil and the Czechoslovak Surrealist Group, I suggest that not only do we need to replace historically anachronistic East/West divides with an appreciation of the richness and density of the connections and interchanges between avant-gardes across the continent during the earlier part of the twentieth century. To do so requires us to rethink what defines modernism per se. I argue that Prague offers a different model of the relation between avant-gardes, the applied arts, and popular culture than that acknowledged in postwar Anglophone art history, and provides an alternative vantage point from which to question (and historically situate) the formalism of that tradition.

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Derek Sayer
Lancaster University

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Derek Sayer is Professor at Lancaster University. He was originally trained in sociology, and wrote a number of books on classical social theory and state formation. Latterly he has used modern Czech history, and especially the modern history of the city of Prague, as a laboratory in which to explore the many-sidedness of "the modern condition," focusing in particular on cultural history, including architecture, music, and the visual arts.

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Dernière mise à jour : 04/06/2015