A More Durable Self
From Chaos & Classicism: Art In France, Italy, and Germany, 1918–1936
Kenneth E. Silver
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Rising from the ruins of World War I, European art and culture returned to the classical past, seeking tranquility in order and enduring values. Kenneth E. Silver's groundbreaking essay "A More Durable Self" was originally published for the exhibition Chaos & Classicism: Art in France, Germany, and Italy, 1918–1936. Featuring work by Pablo Picasso, Giorgio de Chirico, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, this essay traces the classical impulse from a poetic, mythic idea in the Parisian avant-garde; to the dream of a revived Roman Empire, under Benito Mussolini; to classic high modernism at the Bauhaus and, finally, the chilling aesthetic of nascent Nazi culture.