Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Make It New: The Rise of Modernism
Marketing the New

When you publish a "great" book, Valery Larbaud told James Joyce, you need to make a mighty noise.

In the new twentieth century, there was a veritable explosion of publishing opportunities in so-called "little magazines" and a vigorous cottage publishing industry. On occasion, modernist artists had to create their own distribution opportunities, such as the 1910 and 1912 Post-Impressionist exhibitions in London, precursors to the famous New York Armory Show of 1913.

Futurism depended entirely on manufactured "events," and Dadaism followed suit with "anti-events." The aim was to gain celebrity (or notoriety for the artists or the new ideas that they promulgated. Although not planned to be unpopular, the openings of Ubu Roi, Parade, Façade, Pelléas et Mélisande and The Rite of Spring attained legendary notoriety thanks to audience displeasure.

One could see these works as the "counter-cultural" equivalents of such municipal landmarks as the Eiffel Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Paris Métro. To look at them now is to ask who paid for Modernism -- who produced it, how was it distributed, how did it find its various audiences, and who consumed it.

Section 5 documents:

The Armory Show
New York Dada
Claude Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande
Jean Cocteau's Parade
Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi
Guillaume Apollinaire's Les Mamelles de Tirésias
Edith Sitwell's Façade
Gertrude Stein's Four Saints in Three Acts
James Joyce's Ulysses



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