Avant-Garde in Print


The period between the two world wars in Europe marked a moment of intensive artistic and intellectual exchange as new nations were formed, such as Czechoslovakia’s First Republic and Weimar Germany. In the upper-level course “European Avant-Garde in Print” students were introduced to how the Czech, German, Polish, Hungarian, and Serbo-Croatian avant-garde magazines contributed to international discussions about what a new Europe should be, through their innovative use of photography, international typographic conventions, and translation. Lectures and readings moved from an overview of the graphic and textual conventions of the Modernist and avant-garde magazines to a historical contextualization of how magazines like Disk and ReD in Prague, Pásmo in Brno, Merz in Hannover, and Ma in Vienna worked to reach audiences abroad and engage in a transnational conversation about art making and politics in post-World War One society, through both their textual and visual content. These lesser known magazines were discussed alongside their more famous, English-language counterparts, such as the London-based Egoist and The Little Review in New York (and later, Paris), as well as seminal publications of the Harlem Renaissance, including The Crisis, Opportunity, and Fire!!. Class visits to the Harry Ransom Center and the Blanton Museum allowed students to study material examples of print culture held on campus. At the same time, students were asked to engage digital collections (such as the Modernist Journals and Blue Mountain Projects) and mapping technologies to create projects that reflected the intricate ways in which the magazines of the early twentieth century were networked. The results of this work is offered here.


Meghan Forbes
Czech Lecturer, University of Texas at Austin

December 2016

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