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Total Expansion of the Letter

by Trevor Stark

  • Hardcover
    $111.00
PUBLISHED: 26th May 2020
ISBN: 9780262043717
ANNOTATION:
How cubism and Dada radically reimagined the social nature of language, following the utopian poetic vision of Stephane Mallarme.
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OTHER FORMATS:
  • Hardcover
    $111.00
PUBLISHED: 26th May 2020
ISBN: 9780262043717
ANNOTATION:
How cubism and Dada radically reimagined the social nature of language, following the utopian poetic vision of Stephane Mallarme.

Annotation

How cubism and Dada radically reimagined the social nature of language, following the utopian poetic vision of Stephane Mallarme.

Publisher Description

How cubism and Dada radically reimagined the social nature of language, following the utopian poetic vision of Stephane Mallarme.

At the outset of the twentieth century, language became a visual medium and a philosophical problem for European avant-garde artists. In Total Expansion of the Letter, art historian Trevor Stark offers a provocative history of this "linguistic turn," centered on the radical doubt about the social function of language that defined the avant-garde movements. Major cubists and Dadaists-including Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and Tristan Tzara-appropriated bureaucratic paperwork, newspapers, popular songs, and advertisements, only to render them dysfunctional and incommunicative. In doing so, Stark argues, these figures contended with the utopian vision of the late nineteenth-century poet Stephane Mallarme, who promised a "total expansion of the letter."

In his poems, Mallarme claimed, "the act of writing was scrutinized down to its origins." This scrutiny, however, delivered his work into an indeterminate zone between mediums, social practices, and temporalities-a paradox that reverberates through Stark's wide-ranging case studies in the history of the avant-garde. Stark examines Picasso's nearly abstract works of 1910, which promised to unite painting and writing at the brink of illegibility; the cubists' "hope of an anonymous art," expressed in newspaper collages and industrial colors; the collaborative, cacophonous invention of "simultaneous poems" by the Dadaists in Zurich during World War I; and Duchamp's artistic exploration of chance in gambling and finance. Each of these cases reflected the avant-garde's transformative encounter with the premise of Mallarme's poetics: that language-the very medium of human communication and community-is perpetually in flux and haunted by emptiness.

Author Biography

Trevor Stark is Assistant Professor of Art History in the Department of Art at the University of Calgary.

Product Details

Author
Trevor Stark
Publisher
MIT Press Ltd
Series
October Books
Year
2020
ISBN-10
0262043718
ISBN-13
9780262043717
Format
Hardcover
Subtitle
Avant-Garde Art and Language After Mallarme
Country of Publication
United States
Illustrations
60 b&w illus., 10 plates; 70 Illustrations, unspecified
Pages
440
Publication Date
2020-05-26
Short Title
Total Expansion of the Letter
Language
English
Audience
General/Trade