4.30-6pm (GMT), Thursday 12 November 2020
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IN CONVERSATION with Kim Sichel (Boston) and Jeremy Aynsley:

Tim Satterthwaite
Modernist Magazines and the Social Ideal

The new photo-illustrated magazines of the 1920s traded in images of an idealised modernity, promising motorised leisure, scientific progress, and social and sexual emancipation. Whilst the components of this modernist ideal varied from title to title, its common principle was one of tolerance: the reconciliation, or mutual co-existence, of opposing forces, ideologies, and traditions. The defining question, captured in photo-stories on technology, architecture and the natural world, and in images of youthful, sunlit bodies, concerned the nature of modern society: how could individuals, and nations, learn to live together, and avoid a return to civil unrest and the catastrophe of war.

Modernist Magazines and the Social Ideal is a pioneering history of these periodicals, focusing on two of the leading European titles: the German monthly UHU, and the French news weekly VU, taken as representative of the broad class of popular titles launched in the 1920s; the book is the first major study of UHU, and the first scholarly work on VU in English. Tracing the evolution of these magazines over the 1924–33 period, the book presents a study of the rise and fall of modernism’s utopian ideals, as inflected in the pages of the bourgeois liberal press: alongside the case studies, Modernist Magazines offers an essential primer to interwar magazine culture in Europe, with accounts of rival titles woven into the book’s thematic chapters.

Modernist Magazines explores, in particular, the striking use of regularity and repetition in photographs of modernity, reading these repetitious images as symbolic of ideals of social order in the aftermath of the First World War. Introducing a novel methodology, pattern theory, the book argues for a critical return to the Gestalt tradition in visual studies. Interwar visual culture, in this critical reading, employed pattern as a cultural signifier: the spectacular and submerged pattern forms of magazine images reveal “a symbolic resonance, an impress of cultural intention.”

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Attendee Special Offer: 35% off the list price of hardback and e-book copies for book launch participants.


Tim Satterthwaite
After a first career as theatre practitioner and editor, Tim Satterthwaite took his doctorate in Art History at The Courtauld Institute of Art, graduating in 2016. He is now a lecturer in History of Art and Design at the University of Brighton, and also teaches on the Graphic Design programme at Middlesex University. Tim was the organiser and co-director of Future States (University of Brighton, March-April 2020), a pioneering nearly carbon-neutral conference (NCNC) on the history of magazines. Modernist Magazines and the Social Ideal, based on his doctoral study of interwar periodicals, is his first book.

Kim Sichel
Professor Kim Sichel (Boston University) teaches photographic history and European/American modernism, with a particular interest in photographic books, photojournalism, and documentary photography. Her most recent book is Making Strange: The Modernist Photobook in France (Yale University Press, 2020). Sichel’s book Germaine Krull: Photographer of Modernity (1999), was published in English by MIT Press and in German by Schirmer/Mosel Verlag. Her catalogue Black Boston: Documentary Photography and the African American Experience (1994) was an early examination of African American photographers in Boston.

Jeremy Aynsley
A Professor of Design History, Jeremy Aynsley researches in late-nineteenth and twentieth-century design in Europe and the United States, with a particular focus on design in modern Germany. Aynsley writes and lectures on twentieth-century design and culture. Publications include Graphic Design in Germany, 1890-1945 (2000) and Designing Modern Germany (2008). He has also contributed to several exhibitions. Most recently, he was guest curator of Julius Klinger: posters for a modern age at the Wolfsonian, Florida International University in autumn 2017.

Chair: Harriet Atkinson

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