USM Open Source History Text: The World at War: World History 1914-1945

Flourishing of Arts in Europe between 1919 and 1929

If nationalism, communism, and authoritarianism dominated the political sphere in Europe during the 1920s, it could well be argued that the literary and artistic sphere in Europe experienced its most democratic, its most individualistic and flourishing era. It is impossible to give a full account of Europe’s artistic and literary movements of this era. It was a time full of famous –isms: Dadaism, expressionism, surrealism, Cubism, (though this began shortly before WWI) and futurism. Architecture saw the rise of a radical new style in Bauhaus form and design, which influenced furniture design, household objects, and eventually whole planned communities and industrial complexes. In the 1920s, Sigmund Freud, as we saw in the previous page, continued to write works of psychoanalysis, Albert Einstein revolutionized science, and Martin Heidegger launched a philosophical revolution based on principles of subjective "being." In Paris, as we saw with Diego Rivera, the world’s most gifted artists and writers met in cafes, exchanged ideas, and displayed works in galleries and museums. The names of 1920s European culture, including the many Americans and others who flocked there, are well known by now: Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Italo Svevo, Thomas Mann, Gertrude Stein, Juan Miro, Salvador Dali, Kasimir Malevich, Marc Chagall, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Franz Kafka, and Virginia Woolf – just to name a few. In the following pages, I focus on three artistic figures of the period, the writer Virginia Woolf, the painter Salvador Dali, and the poet and writer Ernst Jünger in order to present some of the animating issues that shaped artistic production in these years.

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