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This article opens with a discussion of contemporary avant-garde art, which according to many critics distinguishes itself by a turn to history, that is by a (seemingly paradoxical) backward-looking stance. Relativizing the ‘newness’ of this turn to history and the past in early twenty-first-century avant-garde art, the article then unearths the early twentieth-century avant-garde’s often neglected fascination with cultures that historically predate that of Europe. Zooming in on the historical avant-garde’s widespread interest in ancient Egypt in particular, the article highlights the “anarcheological impulse” that may well characterize the treatment of the (long-gone) past in all avant-garde exploits, be they early twentieth or twenty-first-century.

In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies

Abstract

This article situates the French dancer and choreographer of color Nyota Inyoka’s Egyptian-inspired work within the context of modern Orientalist Egyptomania and relates her to the avant-garde. Drawing out Inyoka’s ambiguous positionality the article not only demonstrates how Inyoka’s work disrupted the phenomenon of Egyptomania, most notably in her performance Prière aux dieux solaires (Prayer to the Sun Gods) (1921), but also unearths the ways in which her work, as it performed ‘ancient Egypt,’ deserves to be held alongside related and more canonized avant-garde practices.

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In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies
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In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies

Abstract

This article examines Hedwig Fechheimer’s 1914 Die Plastik der Aegypter (Egyptian Sculpture) and Tristan Tzara and Étienne Sved’s 1954 collaborative book L’Égypte face à face (Egypt Face to Face) and how, bookending the classical European avant-garde period, both took recourse to ancient Egypt to explain their present moment. While Fechheimer approaches Egyptian artwork via a nascent Cubism, Tzara and Sved reflect on ancient Egypt through nostalgic, Dada-tinted lenses. The presents of Fechheimer, Tzara, and Sved were rife with anti-Semitism and conflict; while Fechheimer avoids politics entirely Tzara and Sved do have a poignantly political purpose. In both cases time is folded, challenging teleological conceptions of historicity.

In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies

Abstract

This article deals with the building of an avant-garde identity in a peripheral European country by returning to a mythical past placed in Egypt. It focuses on the main promoter of Futurism in Portugal, Almada Negreiros, and on how his African roots played a part in the splitting of the self, a phenomenon that at the time was discussed widely in Fernando Pessoa’s circle and which Pessoa himself so dramatically put into practice with the creation of heteronymous identities. It demonstrates how Almada’s heritage was at once an instrument to perform Otherness—that is, a means to construct an identity as civilisation’s Other—and a gateway to accessing the creative origin of all selves through the connecting cipher of ancient Egypt.

In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies
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Abstract

Cinematic elements inform the aesthetic innovation of interwar American artists Aaron Douglas and Charles Dawson, particularly in the interplay between ancient Egyptian resources and modern visual expression. Cinema had developed an Egypthood, a set of concepts tying its picture-writing (hieroglyphics) to notions of preserving and reorganizing time (mummies) and an eloquence in compressing volume into surfaces (bas relief). Reaching for the pharaohs belonged within an urgent cultural politics, a campaign for beauty and regeneration against white supremacy. Cinema spoke to artists engaged with organizing eras across a flat surface. Through their compact spaces, and sometimes translucent historical jumps, Dawson and Douglas draw the Nile past forward in what Schomburg would call the use of the “reclaimed background.” Their complex rosters of spatial compression produce the aesthetic shock of historical compression, within a wider effort to transform and break open the Nile’s anchorage in the temporarily and culturally remote.

In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies
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Abstract

In 1927, Michel Leiris embarked upon a five-month trip to Egypt and Greece. His text Aurora (1927–1928; pub. 1946), commenced during this journey, combines Surrealist approaches with fictional and documentary elements in an investigation of the ontological limits of the writing self. In Aurora, Surrealist automatism and elements of autobiography become epistemological demonstrations of being alive and facing the threat of impending death. Aurora experiments with thanatography, a written account of the death of the self. References to ancient Egyptian necropolis building and hieroglyphics inflect Surrealist automatism with a notion of the self as split between the living voice, death, and the multiplication of consciousness.

In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies
Author:

Abstract

Physical (print) copies of surviving Renaissance emblem books are distributed across rare book collections held by libraries in North America, Europe and elsewhere. The goal of Emblematica Online, and of the various library digitization projects on which it depends, is to bring a critical mass of these dispersed primary sources together in a virtual corpus so as to aid in the discovery of and use of emblems in ways to help illuminate Renaissance culture and thought. The ongoing challenge for Emblematica Online is to accomplish this in a manner that keeps pace with, facilitates, and expedites the new and evolving ways scholars seek and use digital information. This paper discusses the use of Linked Open Data (LOD) practices in Emblematica Online and describes some of the key functional, user-facing features of Emblematica Online, using the work done to integrate Newberry’s digitized Emblematica Politica into the portal as an illustrative case study. Among the lessons learned from this work is that libraries do not have a monopoly on pertinent information about persons (and potentially other entities) relevant to the study and analysis of of emblems and emblem books. Moreover libraries in isolation do not know about all the ways primary sources connect with each other and with other external information resources. Integrating LOD best practices into Emblematica Online presents opportunities for emblem scholars to engage beyond the research library, surfacing connectedness, context and knowledge that supplements traditional library resources and facilitates scholarship.

In: Emblems in the Free Imperial City

Abstract

Nürnberg’s Rathaus, like other early modern city halls, served as its administrative center. Yet it also embodied the civic identity of one of the wealthiest and most politically powerful towns in the Holy Roman Empire. It hosted imperial diets and other important gatherings in the Great Hall. My paper addresses the building’s architectural history from 1332 to 1622 and the exterior decorative campaigns of 1520–21/22 and 1616/17. The mural paintings and sculptures on the east, south, and west facades, collectively comprising the public face of the Rathaus, symbolically proclaimed Nürnberg’s civic aspirations and the wise rule of its council.

In: Emblems in the Free Imperial City

Abstract

Through his collaboration with Sebastian Brant (Ship of Fools, 1494) and Konrad Celtis (Philosophia, 1502), Albrecht Dürer came into contact with emblem-like word-image structures at an early stage. However, his illustrations for Willibald Pirckheimer’s translation of Horapollo’s Hieroglyphica for Emperor Maximilian I became even more important around 1514, because these constructs suddenly opened up the possibility of “speaking” with pictures. Dürer’s famous copperplate engraving Melencolia I of 1514 was based on this experience, as was Pirckheimer’s later painted program for the Nürnberg Town Hall. At its center was Maximilian’s great triumphal chariot, which for the first time worked with symbolic images and their explanations. Seen in the context of the large mural with the Calumny of Apelles and numerous panel paintings by the artist, the town hall was a veritable temple of Dürer’s fame throughout the sixteenth century. This fame was also consolidated literarily when Pirckheimer’s Opera politica appeared posthumously in 1610. It is precisely here that Michael Rötenbeck’s “Inscriptiones” from ca. 1620 evidently continues: with an imprint of Rem’s Emblemata at its center, Rötenbeck seems to have speculated on also seeing his own writings printed as opulently as those of the famous humanist Pirckheimer. This, however, was prevented by his early death.

In: Emblems in the Free Imperial City