Significance of Avant-garde | Art Terms | LittleArtTalks

Avant-garde means “advance guard” or Vanguard.
In the military, they’re the ones out front – they can see what’s ahead, seek out the
enemy, analyze the terrain, and so on. But what does it mean in art? Hey guys, It’s Karin, Welcome back to Little
Art Talks. Today let’s talk about what is the avant-garde and why is it important to
the arts. In the arts, Avant-garde can be used both
as a noun and an adjective. It can be used to refer to the artists who
introduce these new, experimental ideas For example, “works by artists of the Russian
avant-garde” But also be used as a way to describe the
work: “a controversial avant-garde composer” The term first appeared in reference to art
during the first half of the nineteenth century in France. The influential thinker Henri de Saint-Simon,
one of the forerunners of socialism, had this idea that artists, alongside scientists and
industrialists, were leaders of a new society. He wrote in 1825:
We artists will serve you as an avant-garde, the power of the arts is most immediate: when
we want to spread new ideas we inscribe them on marble or canvas. What a magnificent destiny
for the arts is that of exercising a positive power over society, a true priestly function
and of marching in the van [i.e. vanguard] of all the intellectual faculties! The term avant-garde pretty much goes hand-in-hand
with with modern art. Now, I’ve said before, that modern art is kind of a difficult thing
to pinpoint when exactly it starts, but for the sake of this video, let’s say it’s
around the 1850s with the realism of Gustave Courbet. The notion of the avant-garde is based on
the idea that art should be judged based on the quality and originality of the artist’s
vision and ideas. This can be innovations on form, such as in
cubism, which rejected traditional techniques of perspective, modeling, and foreshortening,
and instead emphasized the two-dimensionality of the canvas and used multiple or contrasting
vantage points. Other avant-garde artists had strong social
programmes, such as futurism, De Stijl or surrealism. Their radical nature in challenging existing
ideas, processes and forms makes these artists no stranger to controversy. So if you ever
thought that modern, post-modern, and contemporary art is a whole lotta nonsense, it’s partially
because these avant-garde artists are intentionally confronting more traditional schools of thought. While the term was originally used to describe
innovative approaches to art making in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,
it’s still used today to describe art that pushes the boundaries of ideas and creativity I hope this video helped you better understand
the meaning of the avant-garde. If you enjoyed it, please like and subscribe for more videos
on art history. Thanks so much for watching, and I’ll see you guys next time.


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