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Anarchist Modernism

Art, Politics, and the First American Avant-Garde

The relationship of the anarchist movement to American art during the World War I era is most often described as a "tenuous affinity" between two distinct spheres: political and artistic. In Anarchist Modernism—the first in-depth exploration of the role of anarchism in the formation of early American modernism—Allan Antliff reveals that modernists participated in a wide-ranging movement that encompassed lifestyles, literature, and art, as well as politics. Drawing on a wealth of hitherto unknown information, including interviews and reproductions of lost works, he examines anarchism’s influence on a telling cross-section of artists such as Robert Henri, Elie Nadelman, Man Ray, and Rockwell Kent. He also traces the interactions between cultural figures and thinkers including Emma Goldman, Alfred Stieglitz, Ezra Pound, and Ananda Coomaraswamy.

By situating American art’s evolution in the progressive politics of the time, Antliff offers a richly illustrated chronicle of the anarchist movement and also revives the creative agency of those who shaped and implemented modernism for radical ends.

292 pages | 4 color plates, 84 halftones | 7 x 10 | © 2001

Art: American Art


“The sheer scale of the materials that Antliff has uncovered is impressive, and powerfully reinforces his compelling recovery of ‘the creative agency of those who invented, shaped, and implemented modernism for radical ends.’ . . . Anarchist Modernism is a major scholarly achievement.”

John Moore | Anarchist Studies

Anarchist Modernism transforms understanding of early twentieth-century American art . . . [Antliff] creates a fascinating intellectual history of the anarchist movement that deserves to be read outside of the discipline of art history.”

Jody Blake | Modernism & Modernity

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1 Modernists against the Academy, 1908-12
2 The Armory Show Debate
3 Cosmism or Amorphism
4 Man Ray’s Path to Dada
5 Hippolyte Havel and the Artists of Revolt
6 A New Internationalism
7 Nietzschean Matrix
8 Anarchist Unanimism
9 The Denouement of Anarchist Modernism
Select Bibliography

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