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Re: <eyebeam><blast> Emergence or Submergence/Chaos

Susan Hapgood wrote:

>Have any good texts been written that analyse the patterns and
>structures of formations and dissolutions of art movements?

Cultural historian Steven Watson does this brilliantly, less as theory
than narrative history. His perspective might be described as
psycho-social and anthropological as much as art historical. His books
include "Strange Bedfellows: The First American Avant-Garde"
(Abbeville), "The Harlem Renaissance: Hub of African-American Culture,
1920-1930" and "The Birth of the Beat Generation: Visionaries, Rebels
and Hipsters 1944-1960" (both from Pantheon in a series called "Circles
of the 20th Century"), and "Prepare for Saints: Gertrude Stein, Virgil
Thomson and the Mainstreaming of American Modernism", upcoming from
Random House.

>In the recent past, most artists I have ever worked with
>do not like to be associated with groups or with movements; they wish to
>be recognized for their own contributions. But if we look at what we
>have learned historically about art, it quite often comes to us in the
>form of "movements," which must be related to how we behave socially,
>how we package and understand some of the bigger cultural changes.

Yes and the "we" are those who write art history and have power in the
art world: critics, curators and collectors, but not artists. That said
there have been the self-conscious avant-gardists of the modernist era
of manifestos (futurists, dada et al) but mostly art history is packaged
in groups creating a falsely linear narrative of (supposed) influence.
Of course the narrative often says more about the teller than the story


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