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Modernism’s last throw

The modernist dream of inventing a new aesthetic language which can only be understood in a utopian future, died with socialism.

By Howard Brenton   May 1999

I remember the fights about modernism when I was at university in the early 1960s. As a TS Eliot reader, I could barely speak to the AE Housman “poetry must rhyme” faction. In the visual arts, the Jackson Pollock versus Constable battle became so bitter that we suspected the Constablists of smashing up a studio we had in a derelict house, where we pretentiously daubed and splattered.

Do these fires still burn among students? I doubt it. TS Eliot (perhaps along with Yeats) is established as the great poet in English of this century. This spring Jackson Pollock’s beautiful, over-reaching…

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