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Groups, Coteries, Circles and Guilds

Modernist Aesthetics and the Utopian Lure of Community

Edited By Laura Scuriatti

In the first half of the twentieth century, artists, intellectuals, writers, thinkers and patrons in Europe and the United States created a large number of artistic communities, circles, groups and movements with the aim of providing alternatives to the increasingly conflictual political and intellectual climate; the works and artistic practices of many of these groups were marked by an ethos of collaboration, based on a collective understanding of artistic production, and on the nurturing and exercise of sociability and conviviality. Collaboration, sociability, friendship and collective artistic efforts represented the utopian aspects of the radical experiments carried out by avant-garde and modernist artists; they were also the counterparts of the period’s obsession with the notion of genius and the cult of the artist. This book offers studies of under-researched (and often consciously provincial) avant-garde and modernist groups and authors. Their progressive aims are here read as particular forms of utopia based on the ethics and aesthetics of community.

The essays in this volume analyse the significance (and failures) of literary coteries as spaces of aesthetic and political freedom. They explore the internationalist and interdisciplinary practices of the Porza Group, the abstrakten hannover and the anthroposophical group Aenigma; the utopian efforts of the artists’ communities at Dornach (Switzerland) and Farley Farm, in England; the political and aesthetic implications of collaborative practices of cultural mediation, criticism and translation within the Bloomsbury group, the «Young American Critics», and of single individuals in relation to networks and avant-garde coteries, such as Mina Loy, the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven and Djuna Barnes. The volume offers an evaluation of the roots and ethos of sociability in the Enlightenment, as the basis of modernist utopias of community; it also reflects on the problematic notion of individual authorship within artistic groups, as in the case of the early-modernist Finnish author Algot Untola, who created around forty fictitious author-names.

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9 die abstrakten hannover: Utopian Designs for a New World (Isabel Wünsche)


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9 die abstrakten hannover: Utopian Designs for a New World


The artists’ group die abstrakten hannover [the Hanover abstractionists] was founded at the house of Kurt Schwitters on 12 March 1927; its founding members were Carl Buchheister, Rudolf Jahns, Hans Nitzschke, Schwitters, and Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart. In contrast to the political engagement of the Berlin-based umbrella organization Die Abstrakten [The Abstractionists], which promoted collective work and partially returned to more figurative painting in the late 1920s, the Hanover-based group became one of the most outspoken promoters of abstract art in Weimar Germany. die abstrakten hannover closely collaborated with international constructivists such as El Lissitzky and László Moholy-Nagy, the Dutch De Stijl group and the Paris-based groups Cercle et Carré and Abstraction-Création. The essay discusses the role of die abstrakten hannover within the art scene of Weimar Germany and its unwavering promotion of abstract art throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s.

The artists’ group die abstrakten hannover [the Hanover abstractionists] (they insisted) on the lower-case logo) was founded at the home of the German Dadaist Kurt Schwitters (1887–1948) on 12 March 1927; its founding members included Carl Buchheister (1890–1964), Rudolf Jahns (1896–1983), Hans Nitzschke (1902–44), Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart (1899–1962), and Schwitters himself. The group soon became the strongest regional branch of the Berlin-based artists’ group Die Abstrakten: Internationale Vereinigung der Expressionisten, Futuristen, Kubisten und Konstruktivisten e.V. [The Abstractionists: The International...

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