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Harris, Jonathan

The Utopian Globalists: Artists of Worldwide Revolution, 1919-2009

This innovative and revealing history examines artists whose work embodies notions of revolution and human social transformation. The clearly structured historical narrative takes the reader on a cultural odyssey that begins with Vladimir Tatlin’s constructivist ‘Monument to the Third International’ (1919), a statement of utopian globalist intent, via Picasso’s 1940s commitment to Soviet Communism and John and Yoko’s Montreal ‘Bed-in’, to what the author calls the ‘late globalism’ of the Unilever Series at London’s Tate Modern. The book maps the ways artists and their work engaged with, and offered commentary on, modern spectacle in both capitalist and socialist modernism, throughout the eras of the Russian revolution, the Cold War and the increasingly globalized world of the last 20 years. In doing so, Harris explores the idea that the utopian-globalist lineage in art remains torn between its yearning for freedom and a deepening identification with spectacle as a media commodity to be traded and consumed.

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