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Abstract

The avant-gardes of the nineteen twenties are discussed in the art historical literature as the art products of a rarely upbeat decade, which featured great utopian aspirations and progressive art between the wake of World War I and the Nazi takeover in Germany, as well as the consolidation of Stalinism in the Soviet Union. This essay depicts the decade as being far from a homogenous period, demonstrating that the early internationalism and sense of unlimited possibilities gave way, in or around 1923, to less idealistic, more pragmatic views and practices in even the avant-garde. If examined in this framework, the reception of avant-garde artists and works in the late 1920s that had been enthusiastically embraced in the first years of the decade, was understandably cooler. Professional eminence was overwriting great ideas. The lack of the earlier fervor had disappeared, not because the art was worse, but on account of the new Zeitgeist that brought about the new moral idea of utilitarianism, requiring that the artists be, first of all, of use to the community. Several artists and art writers suddenly turned against those ideas and art that they had only a short time earlier held in the highest esteem.

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