Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Beyond modernism : Berlin Dada and form as contradiction
Author: Nachtigall, J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8499 6772
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
This thesis revisits dominant historical accounts of modernism by engaging with the contradictions it identifies as defining Berlin Dada's approach to form. As a group of artists, writers and cultural practitioners that worked collectively between 1918 and 1920 in Berlin, Dada has been historicized as the epitome of the political avant-garde in the West: canonical interpretations veer between commending its 'radicality' and dismissing its inconsistencies as 'anti-art'. My argument is that Dada was neither 'radical', nor were its contradictions (e.g. remaining art while demanding its abolition) the logical outcome of its 'anti-art' stance. Instead I propose they resulted from attempts to re-function art as a social practice in a capitalist society and the specific nature of this challenge: to socialise art in Weimar Germany's consumer culture meant, for Dada, re-configuring its forms vis-à-vis commerce rather than, as in Russia, labour. Taking the Berlin group as a case study, I take issue with the retrospective attempts to smooth out the contradictions that arose from this and that become most tangible in artists' relation to artistic forms and technical media. I argue in turn that modernism was far less monolithic than prevailing approaches to form and their premises of medium-specificity (or its decline) allow grasping. Drawing on what I call a socially expanded formalism and its dynamic notions of form as developed in the vicinity of Russian formalism, productivism and heterodox Marxist art historians such as Lu Märten, I focus on form as going behind and beyond art (history) in order to develop a perspective on art from its limits rather than from the security of a dominant centre. Doing so, I propose, not only significantly broadens our understanding of modernism but also of art today.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available