Avant-Garde/Neo-Avant-Garde

Avant-Garde/Neo-Avant-Garde

Avant-Garde/Neo-Avant-Garde

Avant-Garde/Neo-Avant-Garde

Synopsis

This collection of critical essays explores new approaches to the study of avant-garde literature and art, film and architecture. It offers a theoretical framework that avoids narrowly defined notions of the avant-garde. It takes into account the diversity of artistic aims and directions of the various avant-garde movements and encourages a wide and open exploration of the multifaceted and often contradictory nature of the great variety of avant-gardist innovations. Individual essays concentrate on cubist collage and dadaist photomontage, on abstract painting by members of the Dutch group De Stijl, on verbal chemistry and dadaist poetry and on body art from futurism to surrealism.

Excerpt

This book and the series in which it appears would not exist had Peter Bürger not published his Theory of the Avant-Garde thirty years ago. It is thanks to his effort to sketch out a distinct profile of the avant-garde that a wide-ranging discourse on the achievements and shortfalls of the avant-garde movements of the 1910s and 1920s emerged. And still today Bürger's book is the inevitable starting point for every alternative prospect of the avant-garde's nature and the place that the avant-garde holds within twentieth century cultural history.

Not surprisingly, though, thirty years on a number of "blind spots" and incorrect distinctions have been marked by various critics. Also one of the consequences of Bürger's theory, the fact that it confines the scope of avant-gardist activities to a "fixed historical period" and presents the avant-garde as an exciting, yet by-gone revolt, has been received with critical reservation. However, while these objections hardly diminish the merits of Bürger's book as an initiating and encouraging contribution to the theory of twentieth century cultural history, greater problems arise from the critique of the basic approach on which the theory rests. From Benjamin Buchloh's review of 1984 up to our own attempt on the occasion of a research seminar at Yale University in 2000, Bürger's basic assumption that one singular intention, the intention of reintegrating art into the praxis of life, could be ascribed to the avant-garde as a whole came under attack. While the construction of an all-embracing frame had created the condition for the development of an inclusive theory of the avant-garde, its critique as an unreliable attribution applicable only to selected sections of the avant-garde called the very foundation of Bürger's theory into question. The neglect which Bürger's theory showed towards . . .

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