"Raiding the Icebox" presents an alternative history of 20th-century art and culture, focusing especially on the rise and fall of modernism. Beginning with an analysis of the role of Diaghilev and the Russian Ballet, Wollen argues that modernism has always had a hidden, suppressed side which cannot easily be absorbed into the master-narrative of modernity. He suggests, through reconsiderations of Matisse's Moroccan paintings and the work of the great fashion designer, Paul Poiret, that the history of high art cannot be written separately from that of performance and design. Wollen reviews the hopes, fears and expectations of artists and critics such as the Bauhaus movement, as fascinated by Henry Ford's assembly line as they were by the Hollywood dream factory, concluding with Guy Debord's caustic dystopian vision of an all-consuming "Society of the Spectacle". Finally, Wollen chronicles the emergence of a subversive new sensibility in the underground films of Andy Warhol and explores some of the unexpected new cultural forms which non-Western artists are taking as modernism enters into crisis and the century drawn to a close: reversing the rules of the game and raiding the icebox of the West. "Raiding the Icebox" is a kaleidoscopic review of the avant-gardes and radical subcultures of the 20th-century which shows how some of the most powerful artistic statements of our era have redrawn the line between high and low art in a provocative way.
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