The first patrons of Modernism deserve much sympathy and respect

If Modernism is a jungle, how do you navigate a path through its thickets? Some explorers — Peter Gay and Christopher Butler among them — have been fool-hardy enough to attempt an overall map, identifying factors common to a half century of music, art and literature. But the borders remain disputed and light cast on one area only leaves another consigned to the shadows. Philip Hook, however, has been less ambitious, confining himself to one patch of special interest: the painting and sculpture of the decade preceding the first world war. Although this may sound like familiar territory, it’s widely regarded, in Hook’s words, as ‘quite possibly the most important