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London UndergroundA Cultural Geography$
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David Ashford

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781846318597

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846318597.001.0000

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 29 May 2020

Blueprints for Babylon

Blueprints for Babylon

Modernist Mapping of the London Underground

Chapter:
(p.63) 3 Blueprints for Babylon
Source:
London Underground
Author(s):

David Ashford

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781846318597.003.0004

The Vorticists were a group of avant-garde poets, painters, sculptors and architects, believed to have forsaken their modernist project in the wake of WWI. This chapter shows that in fact Vorticists went on in the interwar years to realise their plan to introduce their work into a heavily mediated space, thereby effecting a radical change in the nature of life in the capital. Chapter Three reveals how the tube-network underwent a reordering in the interwar period intended to refine the pleasurable reverie of individual passengers, examining poster-art by E. McKnight Kauffer, sculpture by Jacob Epstein and station architecture by Charles Holden. Contrary to what the Vorticists had hoped for, the result was the formulation of what spatial theorist Henri Lefebvre has termed abstract space, the rationalising rather than the cultural revolution of the modern world. In response to this unexpected outcome, Wyndham Lewis, the ringleader of the Great English Vortex, called for a new approach, anticipating post-war philosophers Certeau and Lefebvre in calling for tactics rather than strategy, for the messiness of the individual rather than the order of a Caliph, for the desecration of the Vorticist's newly realised blueprints for Babylon. The chapter concludes with a consideration of an overlooked masterpiece of early British modernist cinema, Anthony Asquith's Underground (1928).

Keywords:   MODERNISM, VORTICISM, FUTURISM, URBANISM, WYNDHAM LEWIS, LE CORBUSIER, E. MCKNIGHT KAUFFER, JACOB EPSTEIN, CHARLES HOLDEN, ANTHONY ASQUITH

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