<ul><li>Rather than having some time to exist in relative obscurity on the margins of mainstream culture, today's avant gardes find themselves detected on the radar screens so quickly that they barely have time to formulate a coherent theory, the force of a Single Idea…. </li></ul><ul><li>If the avant gardes in the past depended on a place to hide for a while, in a sort of transitional obscurity, then today's vast, global surveillance systems render obsolete the idea of solitude. There is no avant garde today because it is--from its genesis--already part of our vision. </li></ul><ul><li>http://professordvd.typepad.com/my_weblog/2005/06/jonas_mekas.html </li></ul>
The term Avant Garde is used to refer to persons or actions that are novel or experimental, particularly with respect to the arts. Wikipedia definition
The avant garde (a French term meaning vanguard) was originally a military term used to describe the elite troops used to penetrate into enemy territory in order to open up defences for the main body of the army.
The term was first applied to arts practices in the second half of the nineteenth century with regard to a group of writers (such as Emile Zola) who were writing about social issues.
Modernity and the avant garde. The role of transgression was central to modernist cultural practices. The avant garde actively and selectively disrupted established paradigms of social cultural and political behaviours.
The people involved with Modernism believed they could make a better world. It wasn't just about producing nice objects, it was about producing them at a price that everybody could afford, not just the filthy rich… Terence Conran - Designer Modernism was founded on a frighteningly arrogant idea that an elite group of people could remake society into something supposedly better, regardless of what the general public actually wanted. Robert Adam – Architect
<ul><li>The avant-garde, on the other hand, is precisely that which recognizes the unpolitical impulses of modernism for what they are and rejects the illusion of æsthetic autonomy within a self-reinforcing 'high' culture. </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.cus.cam.ac.uk/~egk10/notes/postmodernism.htm </li></ul>
Beckett presented a paper to the members of the Modern Languages Society on the avant-garde movement "Le Concentrisme" led by the French poet Jean du Chas -- all of which was pure invention. Several in attendance confidently averred du Chas's importance, without observing the fact of his non-existence. http://www.themodernword.com/beckett/beckett_biography.html
In the 1930s lice, rickets, and diphtheria were common and most residents suffered from poor housing and atrocious, vitamin-deficient diets. In Britain as a whole, 2,000 people per year died of whooping cough and tuberculosis killed 30,000 annually. The local council, one of the most left-wing in Britain, set about tackling the problems with the ambitious 'Finsbury Plan'. The idea was to build a comprehensive health centre amid public baths, libraries and nurseries. In the end, only the health centre was built. http://www.open2.net/modernity/3_5.htm
This painting by Otto Dix was inspired by a passage in a WW1 novel by the French Soldier Henri Barbusse. “ In the same place, where we had thrown ourselves down in the night, we wait for daybreak. Half dozing, half sleeping, continually opening and closing our eyes, paralyzed, shattered and freezing, we stare in disbelief at the return of the light. Painfully and swaying like an invalid, I raise myself up and look around.”
“ What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? - Only the monstrous anger of the guns. Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle Can patter out their hasty orisons. No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells; Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, - The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; And bugles calling for them from sad shires.” Extract from “Anthem for Doomed Youth” Wilfred Owen
The aftermath of WW2 saw the transfer of cultural power from Paris to New York, reflecting the US’s new global role.
A s Adolf Hitler systematically eliminated artists whose ideals didn't agree with his own, many emigrated to the United States, where they had a profound effect on American artists. The center of the western art world shifted from Paris to New York. To show the raw emotions, art became more abstract. Abstract Expressionism , also known as the New York School, was chaotic and shocking in an attempt to maintain humanity in the face of insanity. Jackson Pollock was the leading force in abstract expressionism, but many others were also influential, including Willem de Kooning , Mark Rothko , Ad Reinhardt , Robert Motherwell , Lee Krasner , Franz Kline , Piet Mondrian , Arshile Gorky , Adolf Gottlieb , and Hans Hofmann . Andrew Wyeth , the most popular of American artists, didn't fit in any movement. His most popular work, Christina's World , was painted in 1948. http://kclibrary.nhmccd.edu/decade40.html
<ul><li>The so-called academic painters of the 19th century believed themselves to be doing their part to improve the world in presenting images that contain or reflect good conservative moral values, examples of virtuous behaviour, of inspiring Christian sentiment, and of the sort of righteous conduct and noble sacrifice that would serve as an appropriate model toward which we should all aspire to emulate. </li></ul>http://witcombe.sbc.edu/modernism/artsake.html 2. Art for Art's Sake The 20th century has focused its artistic attention on progressive modernism, to the extent that conservative modernism has been neglected and, indeed, derided as an art form.
<ul><li>It is during this period that the concept of the artistic avant garde as a movement for social change erodes. The avant garde is characterised as working within art for arts sake. Critics and cultural commentators such as Clement Greenberg made active attempts to disconnect art practice from issues of social progress. </li></ul>http://www.sharecom.ca/greenberg/ “ All profoundly original art looks ugly at first”
Andreas Huyssen characterises much of the cultural production of the second half of the 20th century in the industrialised world as empty, valueless repetition of early avant garde forms. Huyssen, A. (1988). After the Great Divide . London: MacMillan
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… to Greenberg avantgardism is an attitude, certainly not a style, and was important insofar as it was one of the driving forces behind modernism. But he senses its dissolution, as well, with its implications for high culture -- if everyone is out front, who lags behind? if there's no high, is everything middle?
Postmodernism is itself a notoriously difficult idea to pin down, but a simple definition would emphasize its skepticism toward any and all claims to truth. Kevin Dettmar Once a public intellectual has staked out his turf, and shaped and refined his lever-his style of reading, his theoretical apparatus, his thesis, his habitual way of seeing-he can, if not move the world, at least accrue some measure of intellectual capital. One can ride a good, generalizable thesis about the functioning of culture for a full (if not entirely rewarding) career. But the real challenge, posed by bands and performers like Radiohead, Cat Power, Ani DiFranco, the Deftones, Eminem, and Dr. Dre is always to remain willing to re-examine the ground beneath our feet, and the appropriateness of our critical tools. If rock really is about freedom, the paralysis of habitual styles of listening and thinking is the way we guarantee the death of rock.
Anthony Giddens talks of the ‘dynamic’ modern institution able to constantly remodel and transform itself. Giddens, A. (1991 ). Modernity and Self-identity: Self and Society in the late modern Age . Cambridge: Pollity Press.
Giddens’ position is important to acknowledge, as modern commodity culture is not monolithic like European cultures at the beginning of the 20 th century. Once commodity culture is penetrated it absorbs criticism, remodelling and modifying itself.
FORMALISM: Art is for its own sake. It's interesting to look at. INSTRUMENTALISM: Art has a function. It does something. EXPRESSIONISM: Art is about emotions. Feelings are what counts. IMITATIONALISM: Art should be realistic. It should look like something. INSTITUTIONALISM: Art is what art experts say it is.