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The European Avant-Gardes, 1905-1935

A Portable Guide

Sascha Bru

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Introduces the full range and depth of the early 20th-century European avant-gardes

This engaging introduction outlines the cultural and political contexts in which the avant-gardes operated, taking readers on a journey throughout the whole of Europe. It discusses the most salient features of the avant-gardes’ work in all the arts, succinctly surveys the major avant-garde movements (cubism, futurism, expressionism, Dadaism, constructivism and many other –isms) and demonstrates the ways in which they transformed the face of all modern art forms. Clearly written, this book shows readers and students of modernism how and why the avant-gardes were a major force in modern art and culture.

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Introduction: Packing the Suitcase

Part I: Strategies And Tactics

Chapter 1: A New Art, One and Undivided

Chapter 2: A Total Art, Pure and Real

Chapter 3: Anti-Art, Non-Art, Art!

Part ii: Spaces and Places

Chapter 4: Cafés, Cities and Centre

Chapter 5: New Men in Old Europe 

Chapter 6: A Global Avant-Garde

Part iii: Times and Temporalities

Chapter 7: The Past Appropriated

Chapter 8: The Plural Present

Chapter 9: The Futures of Theory

Conclusion: En Route




About the Author

Sascha Bru is associate professor of general and comparative literature at the University of Leuven (Belgium). He has produced over a dozen books on European avant-gardes and modernisms, including Democracy, Law and the Modernist Avant-Gardes: Writing in the State of Exception (EUP, 2009) and the co-edited volume The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Europe, 1880-1940 (OUP, 2016).


This "portable guide" — succinct but never superficial, precise but never pedantic, may well be the one indispensable book on the European Avant-Garde movements. Bru’s concluding speculations on the future of the avant-garde and its various theorists is especially welcome. A brilliant study!

- Marjorie Perloff, Stanford University

A new, very promising and appropriate approach to the subject.

- Natalie Adamson, Reader in Art History, University of St Andrews

This book has every prospect of becoming the founding and defining pedagogic platform for avant-garde studies.

- Jed Rasula, University of Georgia

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