The thesis examines the activities of Cahiers d’Art as a magazine, gallery and publishing house active in Paris from 1926 to 1960 with special attention, and without particular regards to biography, to the intellectual development of its founder Christian Zervos from his early years in Alexandria at the beginning of the century to his professional establishment in the French capital. Its originality resides in the presentation of a significant corpus of unpublished archival information and the examination of the role that the network centred around Cahiers d’Art played in the institutionalisation of independent art in the first half of the century, the propagation of abstraction through the popularisation of European primitivism which was presented as a direct link to the modern era, and the passage from the Mechanist to the Atomic Age, its effects in the artistic domain and the ideological connotations it encased. The overall analysis focuses on particular transitional phenomena that marked the course of the 20th century. Particularly, the passage from analysis to synthesis which found diverse expressions in the contemporary artistic discourse since the beginning of the century giving birth to an increased interest in pragmatist approaches to art and architecture, social engagement, and a course towards formal simplification. The thesis observes the way in which the medieval and the primitive past contributed to the consecration of the international School of Paris and the conflicts of interest of their exponents. It furthermore pays close attention to Zervos’ position-taking with regards to these conflicts, his disdain for antiquity, its aftermath in western art, and the way that these positions affected his presentation of Picasso’s work in the voluminous catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work. Finally, it seeks to re-appreciate from the perspective of Cahiers d’Art, a significantly influential network of worldwide reputation, issues associated with the consecration and popularisation of international independent art in France and abroad, as well as the conflicting aspirations for decentralisation in a context dominated by Eurocentric attitudes and the formal and ideological projections of post Wold War Two liberal critique.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - Aug 2016|