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Hubert I. Cohen

Review of András Bálint Kovács, SCREENING MODERNISM: EUROPEAN ART CINEMA, 1950–1980

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Mindfulness and Hasidic Modernism

Toward a Contemplative Ethnography

Don Seeman and Michael Karlin

Amid growing interest in mindfulness studies focusing on Buddhist and Buddhism-derived practices, this article argues for a comparative and ethnographic approach to analogous practices in different religious traditions and to their vernacular significance in the everyday lives of practitioners. The Jewish contemplative tradition identified with Chabad Hasidism is worth consideration in this context because of its long-standing indigenous tradition of contemplative practice, the recent adoption of ‘mindfulness’ practices or terminology by some Hasidim, and its many intersections with so-called Buddhist modernism. These intersections include the personal trajectories of individuals who have engaged in both Buddhist and Hasidism-derived mindfulness practices, the shared invocation and adaptation of contemporary psychology, and the promotion of secularized forms of contemplative practice. We argue that ‘Hasidic modernism’ is a better frame than ‘neo-Hasidism’ for comparative purposes, and that Hasidic modernism complicates the taxonomies of secularity in comparable but distinctive ways to those that arise in Buddhist-modernism contexts.

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Sara Crangle

Written against the backdrop of Brexit, this short article examines the long history of British disregard for modernist and experimental avant-garde aesthetics, one frequently commented upon by critics and artists over the past century. In What Ever Happened to Modernism? Josipovici added his voice to this chorus, but his focus on British insularity went unremarked by reviewers. In addition to considering this more recent text, the article lingers over Josipovici’s ‘English Studies and European Culture’, an essay written in the 1970s that presciently explores the symbiotic and primary relationship between England and the continent.

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"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

Jerrold Seigel

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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Matisse at Vence

An Epilogue to Van Gogh and Gauguin: the Search for Sacred Art

Kenneth E. Silver

Silverman's intent is to emphasize the "critical role of religion in the development of modernism." As an addendum to that pursuit, it should be pointed out that, well into the twentieth century, religion remained crucial to artistic innovation and development (and still is). We now recognize how important apocalyptic imagery was to Wasily Kandinsky's abstraction. In the wake of the Second World War, and French occupation by the Germans, religion made a powerful reappearance in the art of the avant-garde. Henri Matisse's Chapel of the Rosary at Vence is one of the great works of this period; it is worth briefly examining the ways in which Matisse understood the intersection between modern art and his reengagement with Catholicism.

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Refiguring Modernism in European Comics

'New Seeing' in the Works of Lorenzo Mattotti and Nicolas de Crécy

Barbara Uhlig

Both in literature and art, exponents of modernism sought new forms of expression that took into account changes in the social, economic, technical and political conditions of the time. A similar trend towards questioning outmoded forms of representation and establishing new ways of seeing has become apparent in European comics since the 1980s, a development that was initiated primarily in Italy and France. In Murmure (1989), Lorenzo Mattotti invokes expressionism and centres his mystical tale on the individual's inner being. In rejecting the representational norms traditionally applied to comics, Nicolas de Crécy also shows his allegiance to modernism yet reflects in his absurdly hyperrealist work, Foligatto (1991), the grotesque images of Otto Dix. The following article demonstrates how the two artists, despite the deliberate reversion to early twentieth-century art common to both, have, each in his own way, established a new approach to seeing in comics.

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Traveling to Modernism's Other Worlds

Huxley's Brave New World and Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four

Alexandra Peat

This article discusses two popular late modernist works, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. It argues that the formal and thematic complexity of both works has been overlooked because of an understandable, but ultimately rather myopic fixation on their gripping ideas and frightening political messages, and puts them back in the context of modernism, seeing them as part of a body of late modernist works engaged in questions of travel and transnational encounter. The article situates Huxley and Orwell's novels in the socio-cultural context of the 1930s and 1940s, figuring the dystopian impulse as a reaction to a time of global upheaval and uncertainty. By understanding these novels as examples of travel fiction, we become more attuned to the kinds of complex ethical questions they ask regarding how to view both other worlds and other people.

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Iterative Modernism

The Design Mode of Interwar Engineering in Belgium

Greet De Block and Bruno De Meulder

This article traces the implicit spatial project of Belgian engineers during the interwar period. By analyzing infrastructure planning and its inscribed spatial ideas as well as examining the hybrid modernity advocated by engineers and politicians, this article contributes to both urban and transport history.

Unlike colleagues in countries such as Germany, Italy and the United States, Belgian engineers were not convinced that highways offered a salutary new order to a nation traumatized by the First World War. On the contrary, the Ponts et Chaussées asserted that this new limited access road would tear apart the densely populated areas and the diverse regional identities in Belgium. In their opinion, only an integration of existing and new infrastructure could harmonize the historically fragmented and urbanized territory. Tirelessly, engineers produced infrastructure plans, strategically interweaving different transport systems, which had to result in an overall transformation of the territory to facilitate modern production and export logics.

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“Plunging the Soul into Contemplation”

On MoMA's Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes

Nicole C. Rudolph

This article reviews the New York Museum of Modern Art's recent Le Corbusier retrospective and its accompanying catalogue. The author critically evaluates the curators' reassessment of Le Corbusier's legacy via the lens of landscape. A key insight gleaned from the show pertains to technologies of mobility: inspired by the views from the automobile, the steamer, and the airplane, Le Corbusier deployed modern materials and techniques of mass construction in order to maximize an inhabitant's contemplation of the natural world. What we learn from Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes, the author argues, is that the architect valorized and designed to prioritize “3 Cs”: circulation, composition, and contemplation. The notion of contemplation may be more useful to understanding Le Corbusier's architecture than the concept of landscape.

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Transformation, Post-Modernism, and Community

The Case of Sakha (Iakutiia)

Tatiana Argounova-Low

This issue of Sibirica focuses on one of the Siberian regions—The Republic of Sakha (Iakutiia). This in-depth presentation has two main goals: we hope to provide the readers with a more detailed look into the current situation in the republic and to start a new initiative of the journal to take close-up looks at various Siberian regions. For Siberian studies Sakha represents an interesting case: on the one hand, its experience and developments are unique, its recent political and economic changes are setting an example of potential way to devolution; on the other hand, the republic’s experiences are typical of those in any other Siberian peripheral region.