Archaism, modernism, and the art of Paul Manship
Archaism, an international artistic phenomenon from early in the twentieth century through the 1930s, receives its first sustained analysis in this book. The distinctive formal and technical conventions of archaic art, especially Greek art, particularly affected sculptors - some frankly modernist, others staunchly conservative, and a few who, like American Paul Manship, negotiated the distance between tradition and modernity. Professor Susan Rather considers the theory, practice, and criticism of early twentieth-century sculpture in order to reveal the changing meaning and significance of the archaic in the modern world. To this end - and against the background of Manship's career - she explores such topics as the archaeological resources for archaism, the classification of the non-Western art of India as archaic, the interest of sculptors in modern dance (Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis), and the changing critical perception of archaism. Rather rejects the prevailing conception of archaism as a sterile and superficial academic style to argue its initial importance as a modernist mode of expression. The early practitioners of archaism - including Aristide Maillol, Andre Derain, and Constantin Brancusi - renounced the rhetorical excess, overrefined naturalism, and indirect techniques of late nineteenth-century sculpture in favor of nonnarrative, stylized and directly carved works, for which archaic Greek art offered an important example. Their position found implicit support in the contemporaneous theoretical writings of Emmanuel Lowy, Wilhelm Worringer, and Adolf von Hildebrand. The perceived relationship between archaic art and tradition ultimately compromised the modernist authorityof archaism and made possible its absorption by academic and reactionary forces during the 1910s. By the 1920s, Paul Manship was identified with archaism, which had become an important element in the aesthetic of public sculpture of both democratic and totalitarian societies. Sculptors often employed archaizing stylizations as ends in themselves and with the intent of evoking the foundations of a classical art diminished in potency by its ubiquity and obsolescence. Such stylistic archaism was not an empty formal exercise but an urgent affirmation of traditional values under siege. Concurrently, archaism entered the mainstream of fashionable modernity as an ingredient in the popular and commercial style known as Art Deco. Both developments fueled the condemnation of archaism - and of Manship, its most visible exemplar - by the avant-garde. Rather's exploration of the critical debate over archaism, finally, illuminates the uncertain relationship to modernism on the part of many critics and highlights the problematic positions of sculpture in the modernist discourse. The first book-length study of archaism and the first critical study of Paul Manship, this work will be important reading in several fields, including American studies and twentieth-century art history. Numerous black-and-white illustrations complement the text.
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The Archaeological Background
Archaism from Other Places
Bibliography of Works Cited
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AAR Papers Academy in Rome Academy's Aegina aesthetic American Academy American Art American Sculpture appears archaeology archaic art archaic sculpture archaism architect Architectural League Armory Show art deco artists Auguste Rodin Bakst beauty Birnbaum Bourdelle Brancusi bronze Caffin Centaur and Dryad classical Constantin Brancusi contemporary Coomaraswamy Cortissoz critics culture Cummings Dance Dancer and Gazelles Daniel Chester French decorative direct carving Duncan essay exhibition Exposition expression fellows figures Franz Metzner French Gaston Lachaise German Goodhue Greece Greek art Greek Sculpture Hermes Hildebrand Ibid Indian art John Manship Karl Bitter Konti Papers Lachaise's later Maillol Manship's art Manship's sculpture marble Mestrovic Modern Sculpture modernist Monument Museum of Art Nebraska State Capitol nineteenth century Olympia painter painting Paris Paul Manship pediment Photo plaster preclassical primitive Primitivism Rajput painting relief Rodin Ruth St sculp style stylistic stylized tion tradition ture vase Walker Hancock York