Paper Revolutions

Paper Revolutions An Invisible Avant-Garde

Hardback (17 Mar 2022)

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Publisher's Synopsis

In Paper Revolutions, Sarah James offers a radical rethinking of experimental art in the early years of the former East Germany (the GDR). Countering conventional accounts that claim artistic practices in the GDR were isolated and conservative, James introduces a new narrative of neo-avantgarde practice in the Eastern Bloc that subverts many of the assumptions underpinning Western art's postwar histories. She grounds her argument in the practice of four artists who, uniquely positioned outside academies, museums, and the art market, created art in the blind spots of state censorship. They championed ephemeral practices often marginalised by critics: postcards and letters, maquettes and models, portfolios and artists' books. Through their "lived modernism," they produced bodies of work animated by the radical legacies of the interwar avant-garde. James examines the work and daily practices of the constructivist graphic artist, painter, and sculptor Hermann Glöckner; the experimental graphic artist, concrete and sound poet Carlfriedrich Claus; the mail artist, concrete poet, and conceptual artist Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt; and the mail artist, "visual poet," and installation artist Karla Sachse. She shows that all of these artists, despite their lack of political status, took a stance that was not apolitical but socialist, even utopian. They believed in the radical potential of art to create collectivised experiences and fought against the idea of art as a commodity or a rarefied object. James argues that these artists, entirely neglected by Western art history, produced some of the most significant experimental art that emerged from the GDR.

Book information

ISBN: 9780262046565
Publisher: The MIT Press
Imprint: The MIT Press
Pub date:
DEWEY: 700.9431
DEWEY edition: 23
Number of pages: 387
Weight: 1088g
Height: 189mm
Width: 236mm
Spine width: 36mm