Form as Revolt: Carl Einstein and the Ground of Modern Art - Signale: Modern German Letters, Cultures, and Thought (Hardback)
  • Form as Revolt: Carl Einstein and the Ground of Modern Art - Signale: Modern German Letters, Cultures, and Thought (Hardback)

Form as Revolt: Carl Einstein and the Ground of Modern Art - Signale: Modern German Letters, Cultures, and Thought (Hardback)

Hardback 320 Pages / Published: 22/01/2016
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The German writer and art critic Carl Einstein (1885-1940) has long been acknowledged as an important figure in the history of modern art, and yet he is often sidelined as an enigma. In Form as Revolt Sebastian Zeidler recovers Einstein's multifaceted career, offering the first comprehensive intellectual biography of Einstein in English.Einstein first emerged as a writer of experimental prose through his involvement with the anarchist journal Die Aktion. After a few limited forays into art criticism, he burst onto the art scene in 1915 with his book Negro Sculpture, at once a formalist intervention into the contemporary theory and practice of European sculpture and a manifesto for the sophistication of African art. Einstein would go on to publish seminal texts on the cubist paintings of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. His contributions to the surrealist magazine Documents (which Einstein cofounded with Georges Bataille), including writings on Picasso and Paul Klee, remain unsurpassed in their depth and complexity.In a series of close visual analyses-illustrated with major works by Braque, Picasso, and Klee-Zeidler retrieves the theoretical resources that Einstein brought to bear on their art. Form as Revolt shows us that to rediscover Einstein's art criticism is to see the work of great modernist artists anew through the eyes of one of the most gifted left-wing formalists of the twentieth century.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9781501702082
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 1049 g
Dimensions: 254 x 178 x 23 mm


"One of the most brilliant, idiosyncratic, and elusive thinkers of the last century, Carl Einstein has remained on the margins of academic discourse until now. Fortunately, however, his work appears at last to be poised for its belated reception, and there is no doubt that Sebastian Zeidler's ambitious book will play an important role in this rediscovery. Rigorously erudite yet remarkably readable, Form as Revolt encompasses a biography and oeuvre that thwart easy synopsis while simultaneously generating profound insights into the cultural history and intellectual landscape of the early twentieth century more generally."

-- Devin Fore, Princeton University

"Sebastian Zeidler has a unique capacity to bring philosophical thought to bear on modern art. The result is not only the most comprehensive study on Carl Einstein in English but also a thoroughly fresh account of cubism."

-- David Joselit, Distinguished Professor, Graduate Center, CUNY

"With Form as Revolt, Sebastian Zeidler offers a learned, eloquent, and extremely rigorous account of Einstein's intellectual career and the ways that it illuminates crucial modernist artifacts and texts. Zeidler paints Carl Einstein as a fascinating, dynamic, often hermetic figure whose seminal writings are central not only to art history but to intellectual history and German literary studies as well."

-- Christopher D. Johnson, The Warburg Institute, University of London

"Sebastian Zeidler presents not only a detailed, rigorous analysis of Einstein's fragmentary, gnomic writings, but a provocative extrapolation of their potentials.... Among other things, Form as Revolt is an impressive exercise in intellectual history, ranging with ease from Novalis and Hegel to Rosa Luxemburg, Lucien Levy-Bruhl, and beyond.... Form as Revolt is a far-reaching, learned, and ambitious volume.... In this book, over and above the vital contribution he makes to the reception of his hero, Carl Einstein, Sebastian Zeidler takes his own place among the leading critical historians of modernist art."

* CAA Reviews *

"Zeidlers Buch fuhrt in Eisteins literarisches und kunsttheoretisches Werk ein, sprengt aber zugleich das Format der Monografie an so gut wie jedem Punkt seines Textes. Form as Revolt handelt entschieden weniger uber den historischen Autor als mit ihm. Im skrupuloesen, am Poststrukturalismus, an Derrida und Deleuze geschulten Versuch, die spezifische Verschrankung von Formen und Inhalten in Einsteins Denken und Schreiben herauszuarbeiten, um Einstein gewissermassen neu zu schaffen, entdeckt und entwickelt Zeilder die Elemente einer Kunstgeschichte der Moderne vor dem Hintergrund der offenkundigen Krise wesentlicher Achsen der Disziplin, von der Semiologie bis zur social art history."

* Kunstform *

"Form as Revolt is the inverse of esoteric; it ceaselessly winnows away the abstruse to place difficult art and thought within reach, but not in dumbed-down ways. To say this volume offers a remarkably insightful contribution to scholarship on the history and criticism of early twentieth-century art would certainly be true, but even such an accolade would hardly speak to the significance-and the courage-of Zeidler's study."

* Critical Inquiry *

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