Satirizing Frameless Art

Lisa Siraganian

in Modernism’s Other Work

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199796557
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932542 | DOI:
Satirizing Frameless Art

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Wyndham Lewis argues that the beholder’s irrelevance to the work’s meaning implies a number of philosophical, aesthetic, and political positions in modernity. This chapter explores how Lewis defends both the beholder’s irrelevance and aesthetic representation to defend political representation. In The Childermass (1928), he portrays two characters that step through a picture frame into a painting full of air, in the process nearly killing Thomas Paine and thereby threatening the very possibility of representation (whether liberal political or aesthetic). The “time-philosophy” Lewis brilliantly satirizes in Time and Western Man (1927) damages pictorial, symbolic, and political representation alike. Expanding on this idea, as well as on related accounts in his novel The Revenge for Love (1937) and his drawings in The Enemy (1927-29), we see Lewis not as the creator of postmodernism but, through his attempts to renew the possibility for representation under the dominance of time-philosophy, the first critic of it. By bringing Lewis’s art theories into a conversation about liberalism in modernity, we discover that he is not theoretically opposed to a liberal politics but is determined to challenge its current manifestations.

Keywords: Lewis, Wyndham; The Childermass (1928); Time and Western Man (1927); The Revenge for Love (1937); The Enemy (1927-29); framing; representation; postmodernism; liberalism; satire

Chapter.  13096 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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