What is “avant-garde”? By definition, it means “the front line” and when applied to an art movement, it characterizes a violent, revolutionary break from the established norms. But when avant-garde art starts to become a recognizable style, a method that can be reproduced, and something that starts to become popular, it inherently no longer can be called that. So when we refer to the avant-garde artists of the 70’s, who really were at the forefront of breaking down traditions to create new forms, a new sensibility in art, is it these people who we should call the true “avant-garde movement”, even though the very title is anachronistic? Or is it the artists of today, who have taken up the aesthetic of the past masters and re-appropriated it as their own, though in doing so have embodied precisely what their mentors were breaking away from, and become mainstream?

My conclusion? The avant-garde artists of the sixties should have chosen a better name.


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