Alfred Orage and the Leeds Arts Club, 1893-1923

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Orage Press, 2009 - Art - 296 pages
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Alfred Orage was one of those mysterious figures in our cultural history who was in his lifetime extremely influential, and after his death almost forgotten. He was the man who co-founded the Leeds Arts Club, possibly the only genuine manifestation of Expressionism in pre-second world war Britain, which promoted the philosophy of Nietzsche, the mystical socialism of the early Labour movement and suffragette feminism, as well as literary and artistic modernism. He turned the weekly newspaper the New Age from a failing organ of the Christian Socialism movement into the British equivalent of Germany's Der Sturm, and the most widely read cultural periodical of its age. And he was the first mentor of one of the most important writers on modern art of the twentieth century, Herbert Read, helping to shape his philosophy of art, and through him the direction of international modernism. In this book Tom Steele follows Orage's career alongside the history of the Leeds Arts Club, showing that modernism in Britain was not wholly a London-centred affair. Whilst Roger Fry and Bloomsbury were following and promoting French modernism in the first two decades of the twentieth century, Orage and other figures associated with the Leeds Arts Club, including Holbrooke Jackson, Arthur Penty, Michael Sadler, Frank Rutter and of course Herbert Read, were engaged in the far more radical modernist ideas coming out of Germany, with Sadler even collecting paintings by Wassily Kandinsky in Leeds as early as 1913.

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