Author(s): Paul Wood
Art of the Avant-Gardes is the second of four books that make up the Open University's Art of the Twentieth Century series. It discusses the development of modern art in the first third of the century. The book opens with an essay that introduces the main themes of art in the period and summarises the political context in which it developed: the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the subsequent consolidation of the European dictatorships. The book consists of four parts. The first looks at the centrally important idea of 'expression' in art, and related questions of Orientalism and the 'primitive'. The second part concentrates on Cubism, and the third goes on to investigate the development of abstract art. The final part discusses the radical avant-garde movements committed to overcoming the barrier between 'art' and 'life': Dada, Soviet Constructivism and Surrealism. The book is wonderfully illustrated throughout, and more specific case studies range from Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon to the transition from sculpture to object in English abstraction.