Chapter 35 - Alienation, Anxiety, and the Quest for Meaning

Amidst the postwar gloom, the French philosopher Sartre shaped the humanistic philosophy known as existentialism. Emphasizing the role of individual choice in a world that lacked moral absolutes, such writers as T. S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, and Bernard Malamud created some of the most memorable existential antiheroes in twentieth-century literature. In the visual arts, abstract expressionists and action painters explored the balance between choice and chance in painting, while new, more personalized directions in sculpture and architecture challenged the austerity of the internation style. At mid-century, the composer John Cage experimented with random methods of integrating sound and silence, while his colleague, Merce Cunningham, sought to strip modern dance of thematic and musical associations. The mood of alienation and aniety was tempered by irrepressible efforts to find meaning in modern life and in the arts.
  1. The postwar condition
  2. Existentialism and its impact
  3. Abstract expressionism/action painting/color field ,
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