AHIS W3770 Art, Media, and the Avant-Garde

N. Elcott

“Photography, and its brother, the cinema, join painting as it is perceived by any spirit conscious of the moral needs of the modern world” (Man Ray, 1926). At the center of the avant-garde imagination—and the interwar period in Europe more broadly—were photography and film. Long relegated to the margins of art history and rarely studied together, photography and film were often the guiding lights and vehicles for mass dissemination of avant-garde images and techniques. This lecture course delves into interwar art, photography, film, and writing as it surveys a range of avant-garde movements from Dada and Surrealism through International Constructivism as well as French, German, and Soviet cinemas; key artists and theorists, including Moholy-Nagy, Sander, Eisenstein, Vertov, Man Ray, Artaud, Kracauer, and Benjamin (and recent literature); and topics such as montage, abstraction, advertising, sites of reception, and the arrière-garde.