Gaudier-Brzeska, Reconsidered

What is the sculptor Gaudier-Brzeska's place in the narrative of modernism?

Project Abstract

Gaudier-Brzeska’s life and work have been interpreted in a number of episodes of retrospection and reaffirmation, including: Ezra Pound’s 1916 text Gaudier-Brzeska: a Memoir; Tate curator H.S. Ede’s 1931 biography of Gaudier-Brzeska, Savage Messiah; Horace Brodzky's 1933 biography; British auteur film director Ken Russell’s 1972 cinematic homage to Gaudier-Brzeska’s Bohemian and romantic rebelliousness, also titled Savage Messiah; American poet, essayist, and short story-writer Guy Davenport’s 1984 experimental story about Gaudier-Brzeska, “The Bowmen of Shu”; and finally, the 2005-2013 millennial ‘zine produced by London artist Laura Oldfield Ford, Savage Messiah, a punk tribute to her modernist precursor that reinterprets the avant-garde spirit of rebellion for a new generation. Each episode offers an opportunity to consider the legacies of modernism and of WWI in the English-speaking world.  We visited art collections in Paris, Orleans, London, Cambridge, and New York as part of our research into the sculptor's place in cultural history, and read works of art history, literary criticism, art theory, and philosophy. Our writing explored Gaudier's national identity and the role of France in modernist writing and art, Kantian and Hegelian approaches to his art, the relationship between the modern art museum and the art movement Vorticism, and Gaudier's anarchism then and now.

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