Spatial Imagination and the Avant-Garde

in The Heroic City

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226870236
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226870175 | DOI:
Spatial Imagination and the Avant-Garde

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter looks at the urban explorers and theorists who were instrumental in fashioning the image of Paris in the 1950s, focusing on urban sociologists, urban planners, and the 1950s avant-garde. It examines their engagement with the city and the ways in which their mutual point of focus created a mood of poetic humanism, along with the commonality of vision in this intellectual cluster. These individuals shared a profoundly left-wing grounding inherited from Marxist tradition, the Popular Front, and Liberation as well as from deeply held humanist convictions. Their idealized vision of society was that of a brotherhood of people, a powerful and enthusiastic working class ready to rebuild France. Intellectual elites aligned themselves with the peuple, the proletariat, the poor and oppressed. They imagined Paris as a puzzle of enclaves, or îlots, that were pedestrian and particularist in scale.

Keywords: Paris; urban sociologists; urban planners; avant-garde; poetic humanism; Popular Front; Liberation; France; intellectual elites; working class

Chapter.  16354 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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