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The Body in Pieces: The Fragment as a Metaphor of Modernity (The Walter Neurath Memorial Lectures, Number 26)
By the end of the 18th century a sense of anxiety and crisis began to preoccupy European writers and artists in theor relationship to the past, from antiquity on, which constituted the European intellectual tradition. The grandness of that past could no longer fit into the frame of the present. Artists felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of past heroic...
By the end of the 18th century a sense of anxiety and crisis began to preoccupy European writers and artists in theor relationship to the past, from antiquity on, which constituted the European intellectual tradition. The grandness of that past could no longer fit into the frame of the present. Artists felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of past heroic accomplishment, its domineering influence, even of their own past accomplishment. Beginning with artists such as Fuseli, this was soon reflected in artistic representation. The partial image, the "crop", fragmentation, the ruin and mutilation - all expressed nostalgia and grief for the loss of a vanished and unreclaimed totality, a utopian wholeness. Often, as a form of compensation, such feelings were expressed in deliberate destructiveness and this became the new way of seeing: the notion of the modern. The "crop" constituted a distinctively modern view of the world, the essence of modernity itself. This work, which is taken from the Walter Neurath Memorial Lecture, traces these developments as they have been expressed in representations of the human figure fragmented, mutilated and fetishized, by looking at work produced by artists from Neo-classicism to Romanticism and modern art, from Fuseli to the Impressionists, the Post-Impressionists, and beyond.
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