Spectacles Plastiques : reconstruction and the debates on the "Synthesis of the Arts" in France, 1944-1962
Reconstruction and the debates on the "Synthesis of the Arts" in France, 1944-1962
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
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My dissertation examines the collaborative efforts of different individuals and groups - such as Le Corbusier, the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, Groupe Espace, and the Internationale Situationniste - which advocated a "synthesis of the arts" in the time period that corresponds to the Liberation until the beginning of the Fifth Republic. I consider a wide range of archival sources and projects, from the collective decoration of permanent buildings to temporary installations in galleries by way of outdoors art exhibitions and theatrical performances, many of which were sponsored by Eugene Claudius-Petit and the newly founded French Ministry of Reconstruction and Urbanism. The "synthesis of the arts" discourse was more than a faint humanist echo of the Wagnerian model of the Gesamtkuntwerk, or "total work of art": it was one of the primary routes along which the cultural and political conflicts of French modernization and governmentality were discussed. My study locates the "synthesis of the arts" amidst the effort to renovate a universalizing discourse linked to modernist art, on the one hand, and a nascent welfare state notion of public space (and its correlative rhetoric of beauty, hygiene, functionality, and accessibility), on the other. As such, the postwar synthesis discourse not only reflected but directly participated in the development and expansion of the French "cultural state". Rather than showing this discourse as unitary, the dissertation explores its complex and sometimes contradictory dimensions by analyzing the political and social connotations of three different categories: a heroic model, associated with the figure of Le Corbusier; a bureaucratic model, developed by Groupe Espace (1951-1956); and an oppositional model, deployed by AsgerJorn, Pinot-Gallizio, and others who became associated with the Situationists (1954-1962). Case studies include Le Corbusier's Usine Claude et Duval in Saint-Dié and Unité d'Habitation in Marseille, Bernard Zehrfuss and Felix Del Marle's Regie Nationale Renault factory complex in Flins, Michel Ragon and Jacques Polieri's first Festival d'Art d'Avant-Garde, and Cobra and Situationists enviroments such as the Architects' House and the Cavern of Anti-Matter.
Thesis (Ph. D. in Architecture: History and Theory of Art)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2013.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis. "February 2013."Includes bibliographical references (p. 311-332).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology