- Format: Paperback
- ISBN: 978-1-5261-1303-0
- Pages: 200
- Publisher: Manchester University Press
- Price: £25.00
- Published Date: October 2017
- BIC Category: Art History, Photography & photographs, Opera, PHOTOGRAPHY / General, ART / Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions / General, New York, Opera, The arts / Photography & photographs, Exhibition catalogues & specific collections, MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Opera, Art & Design Styles: Art Deco, The arts / Exhibition catalogues & specific collections, The arts / Art & design styles: c 1900 to c 1960
Four Saints in Three Acts by Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson was a major avant-garde phenomenon of the 1930s, an experimental opera that nonetheless achieved remarkable popular success. Photography was a key element of that success, but its complex roles in the construction, representation and dissemination of the opera have hitherto received little critical attention. The photographic recording of the all-African American cast in particular affords a unique insight into the complexities of Four Saints in relation to the Harlem Renaissance and the New York avant-gardes of the time.
This book, published in collaboration with The Photographers' Gallery, London, presents a wide selection of photographs of the cast, performances, and other material - many images reproduced for the first time - alongside essays by an international range of scholars exploring different aspects of the opera, including dance, fashion, music, and avant-garde writing, as well as photography.
'4 Saints in 3 Acts-A Snapshot of the American Avant-Grade in the 1930s is a comprehensive and engrossing examination of the landmark opera. Along with its collection of masterful essays, the book includes a collection of rare photographs of African American actors that add another layer to our understanding of the cultural phenomenon that was 4 Saints in 3 Acts.'
Emily Bernard, Professor of English and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at University of Vermont
'In sum, Patricia Allmer and John Sears' book Four Saints in Three Acts: A Snapshot of the American Avant-Garde in the 1930s (Allmer and Sears 2017), accompanying the exhibition, impressively analyzes a vast and complex amount of this historical material, and the beautifully curated photographs offer a visual overview of the avant-garde opera.'
Lisa Moravec, Photography and Culture (March 2019)
Patricia Allmer is Senior Lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
John Sears is an independent scholar
Foreword by Anna Dannemann
Introduction - Patricia Allmer and John Sears
1 Moving pictures: photography and time in Four Saints in Three Acts - Patricia Allmer
2 Modernism in tableaux: race and desire in Four Saints in Three Acts - Lisa Barg
3 Styling Four Saints in Three Acts: scene, costume, fashion and the queer modern moment - Christopher Breward
4 Not so black and white: Frederick Ashton's 'outsider' ballet - Lucy Weir
5 'As if they were the saints they said they were': Gertrude Stein's Four Saints in Three Acts and serial resemblance - John Sears
6 The visitable past: Four Saints in Three Acts remembered - Steven Watson