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Le Tumulte Noir: Modernist Art and Popular Entertainment in Jazz-Age Paris, 1900-1930
In early twentieth-century France, the term art négre was as likely to call to mind the music and dance of black America as it was to evoke the sculpture of black Africa. Indeed, music and dance, which racial theorists and exotic novelists portrayed as the "primitive" arts par excellence, were thought to exemplify the "genius" of blacks in all creative...
In early twentieth-century France, the term art négre was as likely to call to mind the music and dance of black America as it was to evoke the sculpture of black Africa. Indeed, music and dance, which racial theorists and exotic novelists portrayed as the "primitive" arts par excellence, were thought to exemplify the "genius" of blacks in all creative fields. In Le Tumulte noir, Jody Blake focuses on the impacts of African sculpture and African-American music and dance on Parisian popular entertainment and modernist art, literature, and performance. Blake discusses the reception of ragtime-era and jazz-age entertainment, as well as other African visual and performing art forms, to provide new ways of understanding the development of modernist primitivism, from Matisse and Picasso to Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, and Purism. But the influence of art négre went well beyond the avant-garde art world. Starting with the cakewalk of the 1900s and culminating with the Charleston of the 1920s, the book studies the African-American idioms that were involved in larger cultural, social, and political developments. As an illustration, Blake argues that performers such as Josephine Baker and Sidney Bechet of Revue négre fame were thought to affect the political balance between Africa and Europe during the colonial period. Le Tumulte noir is divided into six chronological chapters, each a well-researched, well-conceived, and well-written synthesis of the histories of art, literature, music, and dance. Because of its cross-disciplinary character, this book is not reserved for specialists, but is open to a larger audience.
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