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Neolithic Childhood. Art in a False Present, ca. 1930

Edited by Anselm Franke and Tom Holert
Haus der Kulturen der Welt / Diaphanes, 2018
460 pages, English
296 illustrations, of which 128 in color, bound
ISBN 978-3-0358-0106-4
Price: 50 €

To be released June 29, 2018
Pre-orders at

Resonating at the heart of Neolithic Childhood. Art in a False Present, c. 1930 is the question whether art has present, past, and future functions. The modernist assertion of the autonomy of art was intended to render superfluous art’s social and religious functions. But what if the functionlessness of art comes under suspicion of being instrumentalized by bourgeois capitalism? This was an accusation that informed the anti-modernist critique of the avant-garde, and particularly of Surrealism. The objective throughout the crisis-ridden present of the 1920s to the 1940s was to reaffirm a once ubiquitous, but long-lost functionality—not only of art.

The publication accompanying the exhibition examines the strategies deployed in this reaffirmation. These include the surrealist Primitivism of an “Ethnology of the White Man” together with the excavation of the deep time of humanity—into the “Neolithic Childhood” mapped out by the notoriously anti-modernist Carl Einstein (1885-1940) as a hallucinatory retro-utopia. The volume brings together essays by the curators and academics involved in the project, primary texts by Carl Einstein and a comprehensive documentation of the exhibition including lists of works, texts on as well as images of numerous exhibits and finally installation views. At the center of the volume, a glossary discusses Carl Einstein’s own theoretical vocabulary as well as further associated terms, such as Autonomy, Formalism, Function, Gesture, Hallucination, Art, Metamorphosis, Primitivisms, Totality.

With contributions by: Irene Albers, Philipp Albers, Joyce S. Cheng, Rosa Eidelpes, Carl Einstein, Anselm Franke, Charles W. Haxthausen, Tom Holert, Sven Lütticken, Ulrike Müller, Jenny Nachtigall, David Quigley, Cornelius Reiber, Erhard Schüttpelz, Kerstin Stakemeier, Maria Stavrinaki, Elena Vogman, Zairong Xiang, Sebastian Zeidler

With reproductions of artworks by:
Jean (Hans) Arp, Willi Baumeister, Georges Braque, Brassaï, Claude Cahun, Lux T. Feininger, Max Ernst, Florence Henri, Barbara Hepworth, Hannah Höch, Heinrich Hoerle, Paul Klee, Germaine Krull, Helen Levitt, André Masson, Alexandra Povòrina, Gaston-Louis Roux, Kalifala Sidibé, Louis Soutter, Yves Tanguy, Toyen, Jindřich Štyrský, Raoul Ubac, Paule Vézelay und anderen.

Table of contents

9
Foreword
Bernd Scherer

11
Introduction
Anselm Franke, Tom Holert

17
Editorial note

22
Handbook of Art
Carl Einstein

Essays

40
The Speckled Leopard of the Mixed Self: Chaos Theory, c. 1930
Tom Holert

52
Vitalism/“Living” Form
Jenny Nachtigall

64
After Cosmogony: Carl Einstein on Jean Arp
Sebastian Zeidler

74
Neolithic Childhood
Carl Einstein

84
Why Did the 1930s Identify with Prehistory?
Maria Stavrinaki

97
Russian and Non-Russian Proletkult
Kerstin Stakemeier

104
Flipping the Bird: Toyen
Ulrike Müller

107
Global Art 1929: Kalifala Sidibé
Irene Albers

129
Handbuch der Kunst
Charles W. Haxthausen

133
Autonomy I
Sven Lütticken

142
Knowledge
Tom Holert

147
Mimesis, Redoubled
Rosa Eidelpes

149
Myth[ology]
Sven Lütticken

157
Totality
Jenny Nachtigall

164
Art
Tom Holert

170
Blackbirds
Irene Albers

178
Avant-Garde
Chiara Marchini

180
Autonomy II
Kerstin Stakemeier

185
Primitivisms
Joyce S. Cheng

192
The Training of Ecstasy
Irene Albers

199
Gesture
Elena Vogman

208
Metamorphosis
Joyce S. Cheng

216
Nomadic/Sedentary
David Quigley

218
Hallucination
Tom Holert

224
Entdinglichung
David Quigley

225
Pornophilia
Kerstin Stakemeier

223
Transdualism
Zairong Xiang

240
Boomerang Effect
Erhard Schüttpelz

244
The Anti-Colonialism of the Surrealists
Irene Albers

251
Ethnologie du blanc
Irene Albers

18 – 255
Plates
(dispersed throughout the text)

257
KW (Artworks)

Archival Materials

291 Section A
The Impossible Expansion of History

293
The Crisis (of Everything)

297
Picture Atlas Projects of the 1920s (Propyläen Kunstgeschichte, Orbis Pictus, Kulturen der Erde, Das Bild, and Handbuch der Kunstwissenschaft)

305
Art Historical Images of History and World Art Stories

311
From Ethnological Art History to the New Ethnographic Museums

314
Models of Temporality

319
Functions of the “Primitive”

322
The Art of the “Primitives”

326
The Precise Conditionality of Art

329
Carl Einstein, “Handbuch der Kunst”

331
“The Ethnological Study of Art”: African Sculpture

333
Archaeology as a Media Event

335
Prehistory in the Abyss of Time

338
The Prehistory of Art: Rock Drawings and Cave Painting

343
The Paleolithic/Neolithic Age: Mankind’s Childhood?

349
Fundamental Crisis: Ontological Revolution and Formalization

353
Section B
The S/O Function

355
The Present and Contemporary Art

363
Children’s Drawings and
Questions of Origins

365
The S/O Function

376
Pornophilia

377
Occultism

380
Automatism, Dream, Hallucination, Hypnosis

384
Image-Space of Biology

389
Artistic Research: Ethnology, Archaeology, Physics

392
Gesture—“a flash in slow motion through centuries of evolution”: Sergei Eisenstein’s Method

396
The Expedition as a Medium of the Avant-Garde (Dakar–Djibouti and Subsequent Missions)

400
Ethnology of the White Man?

403
Theories of Fascism in France

406
Fascist Anti-Primitivism. “Degenerate ‘Art,’” 1937

408
Braque/Einstein: World Condensation

409
The Two Lives of Myth

411
Ur-Communism, Expenditure, Proletarianization

415
Section C
Resistance and Lines of Flight

417
The “Exposition coloniale internationale” and the Anti-Colonialist Impulse

419
Afro-Modernism and “Self-Defense”

423
Kalifala Sidibé:
Colonial or Global Artist?

424
The Port: Contact Zone and Space of Mobilizations

428
Conversion into the Fight: The Spanish Civil War

433
Installation Views

449
Appendix

450
Biographies

453
Acknowledgments

454
Image Credits

458
Colophon