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The first decades of the 20 century were a period of extraordinary originality and vitality in the history of art. Artistic activity was mainly centred in Paris. The term modernism is therefore used to refer to this powerful international movement reaching through Western cultures. Modernism expressed the desire to break with established forms and subjects. In the novel it explored the characters psyches through the stream of consciousness technique and interior monologue. In poetry experimented with free verse, and often employed obscure symbols and fragmented images. In painting, Fauvism, which developed in France, with its stress on the supremacy of colour to the detriment of form, was a manifestation of the new interest in the primitive and the magical: Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Wassily Kandinsky. Picasso and George Braque painted by separating o bjects and figures into basic geometric shapes such as cubes, they broke them into semi-geometric fragments and reassembled them in order to give various points of view.

All artistic forms of modernism share a number of common features:
-The intentional distortion of shapes
-The breaking down of limitations in space and time and the radical disruption of the linear flow of narrative or conventional verse
the awareness that our perception of reality is necessarily uncertain, temporary and subject to change: the emphasis was on subjectivity on how perception takes place rather than on what is perceived
-the use of allusive language and the development of the multiple association of words
-the intensity of the isolated moment or image to provide a true insight into the nature of things
-the self-conscious overturning of the conventions of bourgeois realism by such devices as the substitution of the mythical for a realistic method and -the manipulation of conscious parallels between the contemporary and antiquity
-the importance of unconscious as well as conscious life
-the need to reflect the complexity of modern urban life in artistic form
-a rejection of elaborate formal aesthetics in favour of minimalist designs and a rejection, in large part, of a formal aesthetic theories, in favour of spontaneity and discovery in creation.

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