by Debra Spark, United States
Writer-in-Residence, January 2020
Last January found me with a group of international artists in the small second-floor space of the Parisian bookstore Shakespeare and Company, thinking about this very issue in the context (initially at least) not of the 2020s but the 1920s. We had all come to France for an artist residency/cultural exchange devoted to exploring the flowering of the arts in the 1920s and perhaps to recreating some of that same energy, 100 years later, as we were educated about the period. On this particular day, we were being reminded that the disaster of World War I radically changed art, because artists felt that the old way of narrating and depicting the world would no longer work. “Make it new,” as Ezra Pound famously said. The horror of the war, the fragmentation of everyday life, the mechanization of society, the sense of the world as irrational and absurd led to surrealism, cubism, and expressionism in visual art, and some of the same in literature (the automatic writing of Breton, the interest in dreams and surrealism), as well as a modernism that dispensed with the abstractions and flowery rhetoric of the Victorian era.
Read the full article published by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs
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Cover Image: Artists-in Residence, October 2018