Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New book: "The Parisian Avant-Garde in the Age of Cinema, 1900-1923" by Jennifer Wild

I am excited to read this just released book from the University of California Press, The Parisian Avant-Garde in the Age of Cinema, 1900-1923, by Jennifer Wild. I hope to get a copy soon, as it seems the intersection of two big interests, early cinema and early modernism. Though a few of the Surrealists were devotees of Louise Brooks (namely Phillipe Soupault and Man Ray), and one Bauhaus affiliated artist incorporated her image into a montage, I don't think this book will discuss the actress, as the period it surveys is a little before Brooks' rise to fame. Nevertheless....

Here is the publisher description: "The first decades of the twentieth century were pivotal for the historical and formal relationships between early cinema and Cubism, mechanomorphism, abstraction, and Dada. To examine these relationships, Jennifer Wild’s interdisciplinary study grapples with the cinema’s expanded identity as a modernist form defined by the concept of horizontality. Found in early methods of projection, film exhibition, and in the film industry’s penetration into cultural life by way of film stardom, advertising, and distribution, cinematic horizontality provides a new axis of inquiry for studying early twentieth-century modernism. Shifting attention from the film to the horizon of possibility around, behind, and beyond the screen, Wild shows how canonical works of modern art may be understood as responding to the changing characteristics of daily life after the cinema. Drawing from a vast popular cultural, cinematic, and art-historical archive, Wild challenges how we have told the story of modern artists’ earliest encounter with cinema and urges us to reconsider how early projection, film stardom, and film distribution transformed their understanding of modern life, representation, and the act of beholding. By highlighting the cultural, ideological, and artistic forms of interpellation and resistance that shape the phenomenology of a wartime era, The Parisian Avant-Garde in the Age of Cinema, 1900–1923 provides an interdisciplinary history of radical form. This book also offers a new historiography that redefines how we understand early cinema and avant-garde art before artists turned to making films themselves."

"Jennifer Wild’s book is a major achievement, a monument in fact. The book ranges across the entirety of the early twentieth-century French avant-garde, from Picasso and Cubism to Dada and early Surrealism. Developments in cinema, painting, poetry, and music are all tracked. Wild's knowledge of the French avant-garde goes deeper and is more all-encompassing than that of anyone I have read in her generation. But in her 'horizontal' approach to the myriad ways in which the French avant-garde responded to the parameters of what is here called the 'age of cinema,' Wild achieves more than deep erudition: she has invented a new way of crossing the fields of cinema studies and art history."—George Baker, author of The Artwork Caught by the Tail: Francis Picabia and Dada in Paris

The Parisian Avant-Garde in the Age of Cinema, 1900–1923, disrupts a stabilized sense of ‘cinema’ that has shaped the history of modern art and asks how that history would need to be rethought in order for a more accurate and complicated version of cinema to come into view. Jennifer Wild draws on a strong grasp of both modern art and film historical scholarship, as well as an impressive amount of archival research, to make important contributions to cinema and media studies, art history, theater and performance studies, and literary studies.”—Karen Beckman, author of Crash: Cinema and the Politics of Speed and Stasis

“An extremely rich and wide-ranging study of the intersection between avant-garde painting and literature and the emergent popular art form of cinema in the early decades of the twentieth century. Magisterial in both the breadth and depth of its analysis and meticulous in its research, this book will have a considerable impact on the fields of art history, film history, and French cultural history.”—Elizabeth Ezra, author of Georges Méliès: The Birth of the Auteur

"From the effects of projection on early Picasso to the ubiquitous “Chaplin effect,” cinema was woven into the fabric and design of French avant-gardism. Jennifer Wild trains the light of cinema on myriad poets and artists whose work glows anew, while they in turn used films as visual “diagrams” or as a lethal “ballistics.” Bolstered by an astounding bibliography and a wealth of anecdotes, Wild moves effortlessly through Paris, like the movies themselves. You come away astonished at the boldness of this culture, at the boldness of this artform, and especially at the boldness of this scholar who has ingested this period like few before her."—Dudley Andrew, Yale University

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