Articles on Modernism

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Carl Rahl’s Orestes Pursued by the Furies (1852). Wikimedia

Guide to the classics: Christina Stead’s The Beauties and Furies

The tale of a married woman who joins her lover in Paris, The Beauties and Furies is a modernist classic. Like Joyce's Ulysses, the action is concentrated in one city, but dreams are nightmarish in this city of night, not light.
The African Union laboratory in Nansana, a suburb of Kampala, Uganda. Ikko Kobayashi and Fumi Kashimura/Terrain-Architects

Ugandan architects struggle with the dilemma of what’s appropriate

There is a growing trend of designing modernised replicas of traditional buildings for entertainment and tourism. That’s no way to salvage positive lessons from building traditions.
In order to support his young family, William Faulkner took a job shoveling coal at a power plant on Ole Miss’s campus. Mussklprozz/Wikimedia Commons

Under the spell of a generator’s thrum, a Faulkner masterpiece was born

Slated to be demolished this year, a crumbling brick building on Ole Miss' campus once operated as a power plant where novelist William Faulkner shoveled coal – and feverishly wrote.
In the early 20th century, cubism seemed difficult and wild, and it was a favourite target of conservatives. Juan Gris, Fantômas, 1915, National Gallery of Art. Wikimedia Commons

Explainer: cubism

There’s a problem with the history of western art: we face it from the wrong side of decades of discursive dismantling. The conventional “story” of early 20th-century modernism, in which an advanced guard…
Frieze London 2014. Photograph by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze.

Our obsession with abstraction, then and now at London’s Frieze

One of the biggest international art fairs is back. And London’s Frieze isn’t just about selling contemporary art, it’s an annual exhibition that defines and showcases the international art scene of today…
Centenary Pool, Spring Hill, architect: James Birrell. James Birrell private collection

Queensland’s hot modernist architecture shows bold city vision

When most people think of Brisbane architecture, they usually picture a Queenslander: high-set, timber-and-corrugated iron houses that are ideally suited to subtropical conditions. Modernism fits into…
McBride’s narrative of trauma negotiates the burdens of Irish literary, religious and cultural history. Mysi

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing – so form an opinion

For you. You’ll soon. You’ll give her name. In the stitches of her skin she’ll wear your say. The foundational challenge of Eimear McBride’s novel is plainly visible in its opening lines, above: the incomplete…
Modernism is typified by a commitment to exploratory experimentation. Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe by Edouard Manet (1862-63), Wikimedia Commons

Explainer: what is modernism?

I first came across modernism through the lens of postmodernism in the early 1980s. At that time postmodernism – explained here – was washing through the academy, promising to transform everything by placing…

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