Commerce and Culture

6. The Economics of Modernism

Commerce and Culture
Paul A. Cantor

Modernism was a reaction to mass culture and totalitarianism government support. Are artists better off being shielded from markets and commercial pressures? There are pluses and minuses to commercial systems.

Commercialization produced more novels. Capitalists gave readers what they wanted and made reading widespread. Modernism in some ways set out to define itself in opposition to the market, claiming that anything commercial lacks artistic effort. Cantor claims that modernism is the chief source of anti-commercialism.

Some patronage did not work so well. Mussolini was Ezra Pound’s patron. Pound was later declared insane so he would not have to be imprisoned. He was the central figure of North American modernism.

Lecture 6 of 10 from Paul Cantor’s Commerce and Culture.