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Five Paradoxes of Modernity

 
 
 
 
Five Paradoxes of Modernity
Author: Antoine Compagnon
ISBN 13: 9780231075770
ISBN 10: 231075774
Edition: First English Language Ed
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication Date: 1994-10-27
Format: Paperback
Pages: 158
List Price: $38.00
 
 

Early in the nineteenth century Hegel pronounced that the greatness of art was past and that art was at an end. Is it this end, Antoine Compagnon asks, that we are now witnessing, almost two centuries later? Or is the present postmodern moment a result of the failure of doctrines to "explain" art, that is, to give it an "end" and to construe its history as "progress"? Is the postmodern the cutting edge of the modern or a breaking away from it? In this elegant, highly readable book, Compagnon confronts the postmodern's co-optation of the modern by tracing paradoxical elements in the aesthetic of the new - particularly the aesthetic and moral contradictions built into the enthusiasm for the new - in the "five paradoxes of modernity": the superstition of the new, the religion of the future, the mania for theory, the appeal to mass culture, and the passion for repudiation. Beginning with the writings of Nietzsche and Baudelaire, Compagnon considers Manet's Dejeuner sur l'herbe and Olympia, Apollinaire's calligrams, Duchamp's readymades, Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, and Warhol's silkscreens, in addition to the writings of Kandinsky, Mondrian, Venturi, and Calinescu, The analysis and clarification continues with discussions of conformism and nonconformism, modernity versus the avant-garde, the distinction between the aesthetic and political avant-garde, theoretical terrorism, the movement of the center of art from Paris to New York after 1945, and the modern's incorporation of popular culture to "purify [art] of its conventions." These insightful discussions illuminate the works of major American and European architects, critics, novelists, painters, and poets who emblematize each of the five paradoxes of modernity. Compagnon, a French citizen and an American scholar, offers an expansive and invaluable perspective on the divergent meanings of the modern and the postmodern on both sides of the Atlantic.