"Spiritualizing the Material" and "Dematerializing the World" in Modernist and Avant-Garde Practice

On the Wider Import of a Distinction Debora Silverman Develops in Van Gogh and Gaugin

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Author: Jerrold Seigel
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This essay seeks to extend Debora Silverman's distinction between van Gogh's project of "spiritualizing the material" and Gauguin's related but opposed one of "dematerializing the world" to a wider range of modernist and avant-garde projects. It employs this distinction in connection with Astradur Eysteinsson's analysis of the problems of using such terms as modernism, the avant-garde, and postmodernism in relation to realism and the various revolts against it that have taken place since the age of romanticism. Eysteins-son's general approach is followed, but also in part questioned and given a different direction through discussions of Duchamp, the surrealists, Baudelaire, and Rimbaud.

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