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PRINT Summer 2009

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“Tango with Cows”

IT WAS NOT SO LONG AGO that museum exhibitions devoted to the historical avant-gardes—Futurism, Dada, Constructivism, Surrealism, and so forth—were all painting and no paper. The illustrated book and other forms of print media that had posited the page as an alternative space for artistic production, exhibition, and reception were rarely to be found. This despite the fact that printed matter, mechanically reproduced and circulated via the soiree and the post office alike, was the lifeblood of the early-twentieth-century avant-gardes. Borrowing from the Russian formalist Yuri Tynianov’s pithy formulation, one could say that the historical avant-gardes had moved print media out of the “backyards and low haunts” of artistic production and into the front parlor. But until relatively recently, the modern museum insisted on remaking the avant-garde artist exclusively in the image of the studio

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