Biocentrism and Modernism  book cover
1st Edition

Biocentrism and Modernism

ISBN 9781138268098
Published March 29, 2017 by Routledge
288 Pages

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Book Description

Examining the complex intersections between art and scientific approaches to the natural world, Biocentrism and Modernism reveals another side to the development of Modernism. While many historians have framed this movement as being mechanistic and "against" nature, the essays in this collection illuminate the role that nature-centric ideologies played in late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth-century Modernism. The essays in Biocentrism and Modernism contend that it is no accident that Modernism arose at the same time as the field of modern biology. From nineteenth-century discoveries, to the emergence of the current environmentalist movement during the 1960s, artists, architects, and urban planners have responded to currents in the scientific world. Sections of the volume treat both philosophic worldviews and their applications in theory, historiography, and urban design. This collection also features specific case studies of individual artists, including Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Jackson Pollock.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: biocentrism as a constituent element of modernism, Oliver A.I. Botar and Isabel Wünsche; Defining biocentrism, Oliver A.I. Botar; Rereading bioromanticism, Monika Wucher; The naming of biomorphism, Jennifer Mundy; On the biology of the inorganic: crystallography and discourses of latent life in the art and architectural historiography of the early 20th century, Spyros Papapetros; Traces of organicism in gardening and urban planning theories in early 20th-century Germany, David Haney and Elke Sohn; Organic visions and biological models in Russian avant-garde art, Isabel Wünsche; Biocentrism and anarchy: Herbert Read's modernism, Allan Antliff; Organicism among the Cubists: the case of Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Mark Antliff; Klee's neo-romanticism: the wages of scientific curiosity, Sara Lynn Henry; Kandinsky and science: the introduction of biological images in the Paris period, Vivian Endicott Barnett; Pollock's dream of a biocentric art: the challenge of his and Peter Blake's ideal museum, Elizabeth L. Langhorne; Select bibliography; Index.

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Oliver A.I. Botar received his Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Toronto and is Professor of Art History in the School of Art at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, Canada.

Isabel Wünsche studied Art History and Archaeology in Berlin, Moscow, Heidelberg, and Los Angeles, and completed her Ph.D. dissertation at Heidelberg University. She is Professor of Art and Art History at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany.


'This volume provides a stimulating and much-needed consideration of a range of concepts drawn from the biological sciences and their impact upon cultural theory and production, in ways that significantly enrich our understanding of some of the key intellectual contexts for early twentieth-century art and culture.' Julia Kelly, Author of Art, Ethnography and the Life of Objects