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Which clippings match 'Artistic Invention' keyword pg.1 of 1
19 OCTOBER 2016

Avant-garde: exploration and radical creativity that clashes with convention OR simply a carnival of aestheticism?

"Turning to the term 'avant-garde' itself, it seems to have become a commonplace in our ways of thinking about art. Since the nineteenth century, its use has become widespread, designating any artistic movement that can be described as innovative. The term's fate is grounded in the relevance of its military metaphorics, which liken artistic invention to the actions of a small band of forces that sets off in advance of an army in order to clear its path. We thus strike upon several basic characteristics of the avant-garde: first, the notion that the avant-garde restores the collective dimension of explorative creativity. But the term also evokes the conditions of conflict that arise between this creativity and the prevailing society; at the same time, we must keep in mind that 'avant-garde' designates artistic activity as the means for opening up new territory.

The term's current problems arise from its social and economic valorization, which has become so important today that all artists want to be considered avant-garde—even though they generally consider the essential character of avant-gardism to involve little more than a spectacular revolution in form. The notion of avant-gardism subsequently takes on a different meaning than it had originally: it has come to signify a mindset of formal innovation, rather than a dedication to exploration and radical creativity that clashes with convention. Thus the positions of an entire range of so-called avant-gardes can be accommodated within an economic consensus that values formal innovation for reasons of competitiveness and profitability. At the same time, competitive rivalry leads to the disappearance of the collective dimension of innovative creativity which had been, no doubt, a fundamental characteristic of the avant-garde. We must therefore accept the idea that the very evolution of the avant-garde, which compels it to follow the trends of the market place, also brings about its death—a death to which the contemporary art market and institutional consensus alike seem fully determined have us bear witness by crowning its most ridiculous propositions with museum exhibitions. These preliminary remarks highlight the instability of terms such as 'avant-garde,' as far as artistic experience goes. For it is by no means clear that the term means the same thing for avant-garde of the first half of the twentieth century as it does for the avant-garde that followed."

(Philippe Sers and Jonathan P. Eburne, 2010, p.850)

The Radical Avant-Garde and the Contemporary Avant-Garde; Author(s): Philippe Sers and Jonathan P. Eburne; Source: New Literary History, Vol. 41, No. 4, What Is an Avant-Garde? (AUTUMN 2010), pp. 847-854. Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

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TAGS

art as innovation • artistic activity • artistic experience • artistic intelligibility • artistic inventionartistic movementavant-gardeavant-garde art • avant-gardism • carnival of aestheticism • clashes with convention • collective dimension • competitive rivalry • competitiveness • conceptual territory • conflictcontemporary art • contemporary art market • economic valorization • exploration and radical creativity • explorative creativity • formal innovation • innovative • innovative creativity • institutional consensus • interdiction • Jonathan Eburne • military metaphor • new territory • opening up new territory • Philippe Sers • profitability • radical avant-garde • rupture • social valorization • spectacular revolution in form • strategic interdiction • tactical interdiction • territory grab • valorization

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
03 NOVEMBER 2009

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

"Our fine arts were developed, their types and uses were established, in times very different from the present, by men whose power of action upon things was insignificant in comparison with ours. But the amazing growth of our techniques, the adaptability and precision they have attained, the ideas and habits they are creating, make it a certainty that profound changes are impending in the ancient craft of The Beautiful. In all the arts there is a physical component which can no longer be considered or treated as it used to be, which cannot remain unaffected by our modern knowledge and power. For the last twenty years neither matter nor space nor time has been what it was from time immemorial. We must expect great innovations to transform the entire technique of the arts, thereby affecting artistic invention itself and perhaps even bringing about an amazing change in our very notion of art."

(Walter Benjamin, 1935, quoted from Paul Valery, Aesthetics, The Conquest of Ubiquity)

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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