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Cubism, Futurism, Anarchism: The 'Aestheticism' of the "Action d'art" Group, 1906-1920

Mark Antliff
Oxford Art Journal
Vol. 21, No. 2 (1998), pp. 101-120
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1360616
Page Count: 20
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Cubism, Futurism, Anarchism: The 'Aestheticism' of the
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Abstract

In contrast to recent studies that would separate notions of avant-garde aestheticism from forms of political engagement this article analyses the synthesis of anarchism and modernist aestheticism developed by the Paris-based Action d'art group over the period from 1906 to 1920. The article demonstrates how a theory of anarchist aestheticism was utilized to critique the art market; the involvement of prominent Cubists, Futurists, and Neo-Symbolists in various Action d'art projects, such as the 1913 defence of Jacob Epstein's "Tomb of Oscar Wilde"; and how these anarchists organized an alternative exhibition space in which artists sympathetic to their cause could be exhibited. Figures such as Apollinaire, Paul Fort, Waldemar George, Albert Gleizes, and Gino Severini were all involved in the Action d'art project, a striking example of the resilience of anarchism in avant-garde circles after 1906. Additionally the article elucidates the role of Mexican Muralist Dr Atl (Gerardo Murillo) in the movement and his development of an anarchist theory of 'epic' art, based in part on Cubist precepts. As such the Action d'art project stands as testimony to the continued involvement of the Parisian avant-garde in radical politics and the role of aestheticism in facilitating that relationship.

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