Realism, Alienation, and Affective Distance in the Work of Prunella Clough

There is no gentle way into the later twentieth-century work of the painter Prunella Clough. It is, as this paper will argue, a difficult kind of realism, embedded in an obdurate poetry of form. But for the viewer of Clough’s visual work or the reader of her extensive notes and diaries, it is also a brutal appraisal of the world at mid-century through an uncompromising reassessment of the process of paintings. “Considerations. Pickaxe etc. Multiple object forms repetitive, why?

Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land: Barbara Hepworth at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

In 1969, the sculptor Barbara Hepworth wrote to her ex-husband, Ben Nicholson, “so much depends, in sculpture, on what one wants to see through a hole!" What emerges in a sustained encounter with Hepworth’s work is her philosophy that sculpture is not simply a form carved or constructed out of specific material, but an intervention in a physical space, comprising the sculpture itself, the viewer, and the space surrounding it.

Modernism, Energy, and Environment

In October 2019, The Getty Center in Los Angeles opened its “Manet and Modern Beauty” exhibit, a major reappraisal of Manet’s late work.

Iliazd: A Meta-Biography of a Modernist by Johanna Drucker

Modernity seems very much to be with us still. Yet that explosive moment on either side of 1900 is long over, and what has come after is either a pale shadow of its former self or actively contests it. It is precisely that gap that Johanna Drucker explores in Iliazd: A Meta-Biography of a Modernist, in terms of the book artist Iliazd (1894-1975) and of Drucker herself, who began her project as a graduate student in 1985 and returned to it in 2019 as the Breslauer Professor of Bibliographical Studies and Distinguished Professor of Information Studies at UCLA.

Primitivisms in Dispute: Production and Reception of the Works of two Brazilian Artists in Paris in the 1920s

The condition of Paris as the main artistic capital from the end of the 19th to the mid-20th century caused it to attract an expressive contingent of foreign artists, and among those, dozens of Brazilian artists who were attracted by what was seen as the world capital of arts. They encountered, however, an extremely competitive universe, in which national origins were important components to recognition.

Art and Form: From Roger Fry to Global Modernism by Sam Rose
Art and Form cover
Art and Form: From Roger Fry to Global Modernism. Sam Rose. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2019. Pp. 224. $89.95 (cloth); $34.95 (paper).

© 2020 Johns Hopkins University Press

Serving Man: The United Nations Art Collection, Mid-century Modernisms, and the Apparition of Universality

“Respectfully submitted for your perusal—a Kanamit. Height: a little over nine feet. Weight: in the neighborhood of three hundred and fifty pounds. Origin: unknown.” So begins Rod Serling’s characteristically clipped voice-over narration near the beginning of “To Serve Man,” a 1962 episode of the cannily uncanny half-hour television series The Twilight Zone, in which one such Kanamit arrives in his spaceship in New York City and soon afterward appears before the Security Council of the United Nations. There the hyperintelligent giant, speaking perfect English (though without moving his lips) offers Earthlings freedom from war, hunger, and disease—problems that the Kanamits themselves, he says, long ago overcame.

Did Georges Maratier Save Gertrude Stein’s Art Collection?

Gertrude Stein’s collection of major artworks by the most famous modernists of her time (hence degenerate in the eyes of the Nazi occupiers), coupled with its owner being a Jew made it a leading candidate for “aryanization,” meaning theft, the destiny of art collections in all the countries where the Nazis operated during World War II, as Hector Feliciano details in The Lost Museum.[1] Small wonder that Katherine Dudley, Stein’s neighbor and friend, would call it a miracle that Stein’s collection, left behind in Paris when its owner moved to Bilignin in the Free Zone, survived.[2] There, Stein and her companion Alice B. Toklas were not in danger of arrest thanks to their American passports—not, at least, until the Nazis had occupied the Free Zone and sacked the American Embassy in Vichy—and they were probably saved from internment after that event thanks to their friend Bernard Faÿ, one of Stein’s French translators, who headed the Bibliothèque Nationale during the Occupation years.