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Modernism and Masculinity: Mann, Wedekind, Kandinsky Through World War I

Modernism and Masculinity: Mann, Wedekind, Kandinsky Through World War I

By Gerald N. Izenberg

"The skill, sympathy, and percipience with which Izenberg analyzes the lives and contexts of his subjects are simply outstanding." —Chandak Sengoopta, American Historical Review

"This consistently perceptive and thoughtful book both deepens and recasts our understanding of the pre-World War I crisis of masculinity, while simultaneously showing how powerfully that crisis affected the lives and work of three exemplary modernists. Izenberg makes a significant contribution to both cultural history and the history of gender relations." —Jerrold Seigel, author of Bohemian Paris and The Private Worlds of Marcel Duchamp

Modernism and Masculinity argues that a crisis of masculinity among European writers and artists played a key role in the modernist revolution. Gerald Izenberg revises the notion that the feminine provided a premodern refuge for artists critical of individualism and materialism. Industrialization and the growing power of the market inspired novelist Thomas Mann, playwright Frank Wedekind, and painter Wassily Kandinsky to feel the problematic character of their own masculinity. As a result, these artists each came to identify creativity, transcendence, and freedom with the feminine.

But their critique of masculinity created enormous challenges: How could they appropriate a feminine aesthetic while retaining their own masculine identities? How did appropriating the feminine affect their personal relationships or their political views? Modernism and Masculinity seeks to answer these questions. In this absorbing combination of biography and formal critique, Izenberg reconsiders the works of Mann, Wedekind, Kandinsky and demonstrates how the crises of masculinity they endure are found not just within the images and forms of their art, but in the distinct and very personal impulses that inspired it.

280 pages
8 color plates, 5 halftones
University of Chicago Press, 2000
6.2 x 0.7 x 9 inches
ISBN 9780226388694
Art History, Literature, Modernism 

$34.00 $34.00