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", an 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 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.
Allan Antliff is Canada Research Chair in art history at the University of Victoria, Canada.
Modernists against the Academy, 1908-12; The Armory Show debate; cosmism or amorphism; Man Ray's path to dada; Hippolyte Havel and the artists of "Revolt"; a new internationalism; Nietzschean matrix; anarchist unanimism; the denouement of anarchist modernism.