Modern Art in the Age of Einstein
328 pp., 7 x 9 in, 56 color illus., 54 b&w illus.
- Published: October 9, 2018
- Publisher: The MIT Press
The first book to document how artists of the early twentieth century responded to new scientific conceptions of reality.
In the early twentieth century, influenced by advances in science that included Einstein's theory of relativity and newly powerful microscopic and telescopic lenses, artists were inspired to expand their art—to capture a new metareality that went beyond human perception into unseen dimensions. In 1936, the Hungarian poet Charles Sirató authored the Dimensionist Manifesto, signaling a new movement that called on artists to transcend “all the old borders and barriers of the arts.” The manifesto was the first attempt to systematize the mass of changes that we now call modern art, and was endorsed by an impressive array of artists, including Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, Robert Delaunay, Sonia Delaunay, César Domela, Marcel Duchamp, Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miró, László Moholy-Nagy, Ben Nicholson, Enrico Prampolini, and Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Dimensionism is the first book in English to explore how these and other “Dimensionists” responded to the scientific breakthroughs of their era.
The book, which accompanies a traveling exhibition, reproduces works by the manifesto's initial endorsers and by such artists as Georges Braque, Joseph Cornell, Helen Lundeberg, Man Ray, Herbert Matter, Isamu Noguchi, Pablo Picasso, Kay Sage, Patrick Sullivan, and Dorothea Tanning. It also offers essays by prominent art historians that examine Sirató's now almost-forgotten text and the artists who searched for a means of expression that obliterated old conceptions and parameters. Appearing for the first time in English is Sirató's own “History of the Dimensionist Manifesto,” written in 1966. The book brings aa long-forgotten voice and text back into circulation.
Alexander Archipenko, Jean Arp, Herbert Bayer, Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Joseph Cornell, John Covert, Robert Delaunay, Sonia Delaunay, César Domela, Marcel Duchamp, Harold Edgerton, Max Ernst, Naum Gabo, Barbara Hepworth, Wassily Kandinsky, Gerome Kamrowski, Frederick Kann, Helen Lundeberg, Man Ray, André Masson, Roberto Matta, Herbert Matter, Joan Miró, László Moholy-Nagy, Henry Moore, Nina Negri, Ben Nicholson, Isamu Noguchi, Gordon Onslow Ford, Wolfgang Paalen, Antoine Pevsner, Pablo Picasso, Enrico Prampolini, Anton Prinner, Kay Sage, Charles Sirató, Will Henry Stevens, Patrick Sullivan, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Yves Tanguy, Dorothea Tanning
Copublished with the Mead Art Museum, Amherst College
Vanja V. Malloy's illuminating assembly of works related to the Dimensionist Manifesto (1936) brings long-neglected texts by the Hungarian poet and art theorist Charles Tamko Sirató to art historical attention. Sirató's writings inspired many of the historical European avant-garde of poetry, painting, and sculpture, artists who were equally committed to the fusion of the arts with physics, biology, mathematics, and engineering. With an elegant and thoughtful introduction and fine essay by Malloy, and equally impressive scholarly essays by Linda Dalrymple Henderson, Oliver A. I. Botar, and Gavin Parkinson, this exciting volume makes a unique contribution to understanding how the modernist avant-garde united visual and textual discourses ranging from cubism and quantum mechanics to the fourth dimension. In this outstanding study, Malloy has brought readers an exciting, accessible account of long-forgotten aspects of the avant-garde that anticipated the unity of art and science today.
Kristine Stiles, France Family Professor of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies, Duke University
Dimensionism explores how a profusion of groundbreaking scientific discoveries impacted the course of 20th-century art and art history. This superb publication brings to light the little-known 1936 Dimensionist Manifesto, which declared that artists should strive to respond to the scientific revolutions going on around them. It is a remarkable window onto an historical moment of encounter among artists, providing new insights into the work and ideas of a number of well-known modernists by illuminating their highly self-conscious responses to the rapidly changing conceptions of the material world and their agency within it.
Michael R. Taylor, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Dimensionism is a superb contribution to the field of modernism, aligning concurrent developments in science and aesthetics. It is a well-known fact that, a century ago, the theories of Albert Einstein and others in the fields of quantum physics, biology, and astronomy altered perceptions of the world and the cosmos beyond. Less well known is the impact of these developments on the little-known 1936 Dimensionist Manifesto issued by Hungarian poet Charles Sirató, and the influence this document had on Pan-European and American artists during the first half of the twentieth century.
Ilene Susan Fort, Curator Emerita, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Dimensionism, the companion catalogue to an exhibition of the same name produced by Amherst College's Mead Art Museum, provides a comprehensive assessment of an important but overlooked effort to reconcile into a 'single common law' the ideals of modernist art and a reality of relativity and uncertainty as described in quantum physics.