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Wallace Stevens and Modern Art: From the Armory Show to Abstract Expressionism cover
  • ISBN: 9780300053609
  • ISBN10: 0300053606

Wallace Stevens and Modern Art: From the Armory Show to Abstract Expressionism

by MacLeod, Glen

  • List Price: $42.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publish date: 05/01/1993
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It is well known that the poetry of Wallace Stevens reflected his interest in the visual arts, but until now no one has recognized the poet's close involvement with the art of his own era. In this book, Glen MacLeod shows how Stevens was engaged with contemporary art theory, artists, art dealers, and artworks, and argues that this interaction played a central role in his poetry, his poetic theory, and the unusual character of his poetic development. MacLeod demonstrates that Stevens' first book, Harmonium, reflects his involvement with New York Dada during the 1910s; that such major poems as "The Man with the Blue Guitar" and "Notes toward a Supreme Fiction" record his interest in the rival doctrines of surrealism and abstraction during the 1930s and early 1940s; and that the highly abstract late poetry of The Auroras of Autumn parallels in surprising ways the contemporary Abstract Expressionist movement. Aspects of Stevens' poetry that have long troubled his critics - for example, his insistence that poetry must be abstract, his lack of interest in formal experimentation, and his personal "imagination-reality complex" - are clarified when they are seen in the context of his relation to avant-garde art. Stevens' awareness of contemporary issues in the art world helped to determine his subjects, his critical vocabulary, and the ways of thinking that he explored in both his poetry and his essays. In this light, his point of view seems less peculiar, more a part of the living critical discourse at the heart of American art and literature.
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