‘The modernist work’ examines the nature of modernism by looking at a novel (James Joyce's Ulysses), a painting (Fernand Léger's La Ville [The City]), and a musical work (Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera) to ask what they can tell us about the nature of art in their period. How do innovatory techniques and modernist ideas interact? How far do modernist works deviate from 19th-century realist norms? It is difficult to place strict boundaries on what constitutes ‘modernist’ art, literature, or music. It was all sorts of things, and this plurality and confusion was evident at the time, as can be seen in the contradictory definitions and interpretations applied to these works.