Right Before Our Eyes

Technology shaped the show as the 20th century transformed old arts and created an array of new ones

Our pell-mell 20th century wasted no time in sounding its characteristic theme in the arts. That theme was--what else?--change. Radical, rapid, sweeping change. And more of it than had ever been seen before.

Within the century's first two decades, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky and James Joyce--the advance squadron of modernism--created works that broke dramatically with the past, tearing apart traditional artistic structures and reassembling them in startling new ways. The convulsion of World War I only reinforced the modernists' conviction that the West's moral and cultural heritage had collapsed. All that remained, in T.S. Eliot's vision, was a Waste Land crying...

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