Cover

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Title page, Copyright, Dedication, Epigraph

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xi-xiv

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Carl Einstein: A Life

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pp. 1-7

The subject of this book is Carl Einstein, a writer, art critic, political activist, and art historian of the early twentieth century. Einstein’s life was one of the most eventful of the period, and his writings were among the most complex. Since neither his life nor his writings are familiar to most English-speaking readers, I will offer a précis of Einstein’s life here, and the introduction that follows will outline this book’s approach to his writings....

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Carl Einstein: An Introduction

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pp. 8-26

It will be evident even from the compact CV I have just rehearsed that as the topic of a book Carl Einstein is both an embarrassment of riches and a daunting challenge. Few intellectuals in the early twentieth century had a life this compelling; few were as intensely committed to literature, art criticism, art history, political militancy, and philosophy as Einstein was at various points in his career. How to make sense of it all?...

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1. The Lost Wanderer

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pp. 27-58

Throughout Einstein’s prose from the 1910s and the enigmatic notes he compiled while writing it, one fi nds him returning over and over again to an issue that moved him deeply: the issue of what he variously called an origin, ground, or essence. Einstein’s thoughts on the matter do not amount to a systematic argument; they are brief, elliptical, and sometimes rigorously coded. But they do state one of his most deeply felt convictions clearly enough. That conviction was that the origin...

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2. Sculpture Ungrounded

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pp. 59-90

The transition from prose to art criticism was not an easy one for Einstein. It was a gradual process that came with its share of false shortcuts and dead ends. For a while, between 1910 and 1914, it seemed as though visual art might become one of two things for him: either another colony for the style of nonessence, or else a safe haven from it. In his texts of the fi rst type, art didn’t survive contact with the writing, which crunched it in just the manner we saw it crunch politics and sociology...

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3. Cubism’s Passion

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pp. 91-156

This chapter has a double focus. It is devoted to Einstein’s writings on cubism as well as to the cubism he was writing on. The term meant something quite specific to him, for his interests were highly selective. For one thing, Einstein had no patience for the Salon cubists, and while he respected the work of Juan Gris and Fernand Léger, his essays on them are short and lesser texts. For another, Einstein had no compelling things to say on the...

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4. The Double Style

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pp. 157-206

There is a reason why Einstein never became a Weimar Culture household name. The Twenties didn’t roar for him; except for The Art of the 20th Century, they were the decade of his flattest writing. But after his move to Paris, the dry spell suddenly ended . The years between 1929 and 1934 saw a tremendous increase in the quality, quantity, and variety of his work. The single most important factor in bringing it about was Documents (1929/30), the Wildenstein-financed journal...

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5. Private Mythologies

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pp. 207-252

In the later 1920s there was only one contemporary artist besides Picasso whose work prompted Einstein to write a signifi cant amount of art criticism about it, and which was powerful enough to support his argument. That artist was not Georges Braque, whose work of that moment Einstein’s monograph failed to redeem in spite of its length. Nor was it André Masson or Joan Miró, about whom, contrary to his declared sympathies, Einstein actually wrote very little.1 It was rather Paul Klee, an artist whose work he had been following for a long time.2...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 253-254

I am grateful to Benjamin Buchloh for his support of a dissertation that, in the event, did not become this book but rather led up to it. Over the course of writing it, I received fellowships from the Getty Research Institute and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. I would like to thank both institutions and the individuals who awarded them to me: Thomas Crow and T. J. Clark. I am also grateful to Clark for the unique opportunity to teach a Picasso seminar at Berkeley with him....

Notes

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pp. 255-296

Copyright and Photographic Credits

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pp. 297-298

Index

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pp. 299-306