This book addresses modernism's ties to tradition, commerce, nationalism, and spirituality through an analysis of the assimilation of visual modernism in England between 1910 and 1939. Specifically, The Avant-Garde in Interwar England explores the life of Frank Pick, managing director of the London Underground, whose patronage of modern artists, architects, and designers was guided by a desire to unite nineteenth-century arts and crafts with twentieth-century industry and mass culture. Saler demonstrates that modernism was widely associated in England with medievalism, and was also thought to have direct social, economic, and spiritual benefits for the nation.
and students of modern British history, and art historians.
Michael T. Saler, Assistant Professor of History, University of California, Davis
"What makes The Avant-Garde in Interwar England an exciting book is the variety of issues on which Pick's career sheds light, or which shed light on it." - Common Knowledge
"The value of this book lies in the author's thorough analysis of historical material, the exposure of a network of connections which existed between British art and industry in the period, and in the author's decision to investigate an historical territory that seems to have been unfashionable for several years. Michael T. Saler demonstrates that inter-war London can still yield new and engaging histories." - London Journal
"Michael T. Saler presents a comprehensively researched and copiously annotated discussion of Pick in the
context of his time and the production of art and industrial design ... Pick provides the means for Saler to offer a fresh appraisal of English modernism, recasting it as a discourse between the avant-garde of those concerned with 'fine' art, and the mediaeval modernists." - London Journal
"A most interesting and important book ... The point of view that asserts the social utility and value of art, as it derived from Ruskin and Morris and was shared and developed by Pick and others of his generation, remains important for us today, and we are greatly indebted to Michael Saler for having drawn attention to such an important and neglected aspect of our recent cultural history in this excellent and thought-provoking book." - Peter Faulkner, The Journal of
the William Morris Society
"This book will be of interest to social and intellectual historians of the arts in interwar Britain and in the institutional promotion of the arts. It is an important contribution." - The Historian
"An admirable study, wideranging, thoughtful in its treatment of crucial issues in modern art and culture, exemplary in its imaginative use of materials from the Pick archives." - American Historical Review
"Saler's book, ought to make a permanent impact. It reveals, among other things, how much of the Medieval Modernist programme has been internalised by design historians and journalists." - Crafts Magazine