Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

email signup
Search Collections


Make It New: The Rise of Modernism
The City

One of the recurring themes of modernism is contradictory: both to resist and to embrace monumentality. The most obvious symbol in the modern world is the city and its skyscrapers. Ezra Pound wrote of New York in 1912: "Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will."

New York wasn't the only terrible and yet sublime metropolis. T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land (1922) unmasks a London landscape of spiritual aridity and isolation that could just as easily have been Paris, Berlin or Chicago:

          Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.

Whether it was a city of celebration or one of condemnation, these cities with their peculiar mixture of languages, architecture, machines, and customs, were the very cornucopia of modernity: you just had to be there.

Section 4 features works pertaining to:

Paris and the Eiffel Tower
Sonia Delaunay
Jean Cocteau
Eugène Atget
New York City and the Brooklyn Bridge
Hart Crane
Alfred Stieglitz
London
The Bloomsbury Group
World War I
The Russian Revolution
The Spanish Civil War

 

 
 

Media Contact for members of the press

Jennifer Tisdale
Director of Public Affairs
Phone: 512-471-8949
Cell: 512-921-0845
Fax: 512-471-9646
jentisdale@utexas.edu

Harry Ransom Center
The University of Texas at Austin
P.O. Box 7219
Austin TX 78713-7219

Connect with the
Harry Ransom Center
Flickr YouTube RSS Tumblr Facebook Twitter