Art as Cosmopoetics : Ferdinand Hodler, Mallarmé, and ‘La Revue de Gèneve’ – Cosmopolitanism, Nation and Creation

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Abstract

In 1882, the French writer and cosmopolite, Paul Bourget, suggestively defined ‘cosmopolitanism’ as a new psychological mood, a state of multiple being, ‘flottante et composite’ [fluid and composite] as of travel, encounter or community. To experience the ‘cosmopolitan’ in art, literature and culture, is for Bourget, to adopt a ‘double’ view in which foreign-ness of country, culture and voice, becomes as much about enlarging boundaries of self and creation, as of communities and nations. This article takes Bourget’s cosmopolitan condition – as defined by its idea of psychological and cultural fluidity and indeterminacy – as a starting-point for exploring a neglected Franco-Swiss cosmopolitan set of connections and cultural projections. My focus is Ferdinand Hodler’s cosmopolitanism in art and as promoted in the avant-garde review as a site for extending interrelations of art, writing and new transcultural imaginaries. Two particular aspects are of especial interest here. First, is Hodler’s close, yet neglected involvement between 1886-7 with the poet Louis Duchosal and his Geneva-based, Revue de Gèneve as a vehicle for emerging transnational artistic exchanges. Such encounters were to communicate Stéphane Mallarmé’s aesthetics to new Swiss artistic contexts and stimulate their further transformations. Of second concern, is the pivotal importance of Duchosal’s group’s networks and cultural interconnections in shaping related transformations in Hodler’s artistic practices within a Swiss-inflected mystical naturalist aesthetics and politics, yet with resonances beyond its Genevois contexts. Built around a paradoxical fusion of ‘universalist’ and new nation-building mythologies, my purpose is to suggest this Franco-Swiss artistic traffic and Hodler’s place as pivotal. Itt offers a significant instance – a cas-limite that exposes both the possibilities and contradictions of a cosmopolitan vision at the European ‘tournant de siècle’ developed as a ‘cosmopoetics’ and as implicated in a broader dynamics of geo-cultural and political renewal and identity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternationalism and Cultural Exchange in the Arts at the Fin de Siecle
EditorsGrace Brockington
Place of PublicationOxford, Vienna, Frankfurt am Main
PublisherPeter Lang
ISBN (Print)978-3-03911-128-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Scholarly article selected by peer review from AHRC-funded project, 'Internationalism and Cultural Exchange', 2012-2015

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  • Research Output

    ‘Portable Museums: Imaging/Staging the ‘Northern Gothic Art Tour': '― Ephemera and Alterity’

    Simpson, J., Jun 2019, (Accepted/In press) Ephemeral Exhibition Spaces, 1760-1914. Bauer, D. & Murgia, C. (eds.). Amsterdam; US: Amsterdam University Press, Vol. (in press) . p. (in press) 14 p. (Spatial Imaginaries in Historical Perspectives: New Series, 2017-).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  • Cite this

    Simpson, J. (2016). Art as Cosmopoetics : Ferdinand Hodler, Mallarmé, and ‘La Revue de Gèneve’ – Cosmopolitanism, Nation and Creation. In G. Brockington (Ed.), Internationalism and Cultural Exchange in the Arts at the Fin de Siecle Oxford, Vienna, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.