Anarchist Vortex: the Art and Life of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska
Antliff's talk will chart the formative influence of anarchism on the art and life of the Vorticist sculptor, Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915) from his beginnings as an artist in 1910 to his tragic demise in 1915. Antliff will open his talk by analyzing the impact of French anarchist antimilitarism on Gaudier’s artistic production between 1910 and 1913, and his self-fashioning as a bohemian rebel during these years. Antliff will then turn to his Vorticist phase in 1914 to consider his alliance with the poet and fellow Vorticist Ezra Pound and their joint campaign to propagate a theory of direct carving as a corollary to the anarchist politics of direct action. In so doing Antliff will show how the ‘egoist’ ideology of the German philosopher Max Stirner shaped their unique conception of Vorticist aesthetics. Finally Antliff will examine how the anarchist movements’ patriotic turn in the months leading up to World War One informed Gaudier-Brzeska’s decision to enlist in the French army, which ultimately resulted in his death on the battlefield at the young age of 23.
Mark Antliff is Professor of Art History and Visual Studies at Duke University. His publications include Inventing Bergson: Cultural Politics and the Parisian Avant-Garde (1993); the co-edited anthology Fascist Visions: Art and Ideology in France and Italy (1997); Cubism and Culture (2001) and A Cubism Reader: Documents and Criticism, 1906-1914 (2008) both co-authored with Patricia Leighten; and Avant-Garde Fascism: The Mobilization of Myth, Art and Culture in France, 1909-1939 (2007). He is co-curator with Vivien Greene of the exhibition The Vorticists: Rebel Artists in London and New York, 1914-1918.