Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy, and Germany, 1918–1936
Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy, and Germany, 1918–1936 at the Guggenheim. "...Following the chaos of World War I, a move emerged towards figuration, clean lines, and modeled form, and away from the two-dimensional abstracted spaces, fragmented compositions, and splintered bodies of the avant-gardes—particularly Cubism, Futurism, and Expressionism—that dominated the opening years of the 20th century. After the horrors visited upon humanity in the Western hemisphere by new machine-age warfare, a desire reasserted itself to represent the body whole and intact. For the next decade-and-a-half classicism, 'return to order,' synthesis, organization, and enduring values, rather than the pre-War emphasis on innovation-at-all-costs, would dominate the discourse of contemporary art. Chaos and Classicism traces this interwar classical aesthetic as it worked its way from a poetic, mythic idea in the Parisian avant-garde; to a political, historical idea of a revived Roman Empire, under Mussolini; to a neo-Platonic High Modernism at the Bauhaus, and then, chillingly, a pseudo-biological classicism, or Aryanism, in nascent Nazi culture."