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The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist MagazinesVolume II: North America 1894-1960$
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Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199545810

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199545810.001.0001

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‘Ephemeral Bibelots’ in the 1890s

‘Ephemeral Bibelots’ in the 1890s

(p.132) 5 ‘Ephemeral Bibelots’ in the 1890s
The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines

Brad Evans

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the short-lived vogue for bibelots in the 1890s that were international in scope, impressive in numbers, and programmatically dedicated to the fragmented and ephemeral relations of art to art. It argues that the bibelots were fully invested in the counter-move of making changing fashions the mechanism of aesthetic appreciation and provocation. Unlike the major literary journals of the period, they functioned not as conduits for the distribution of enduring art, but as provocations around which groups of readers might recognize and share the associative experience. Indeed, their aesthetic proclivities might well be thought of in terms of the ‘projective fantasy’ now associated with camp — the self-indulgently guilty belief that, when appreciating some campy thing, someone else appreciates it in the same guilty way. They involved not merely the what of form but the how of style, initiating a new way of ‘being artistic’ that was located not merely in art objects but in the relations between them, not on the page but in the intermediary gaps between iterations.

Keywords:   American magazine, bibelot, modernism, modernist art, modern life

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