Death of the avant-garde
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Many critics have pronounced the avant-garde dead. Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Eric Hobsbawn, Roland Barthes, Andreas Huyssen, Frank Kermode and Robert Hughes are but some scholars and critics who have relegated the avant-garde to the past.
Conservative American art critic Hilton Kramer wrote about the death of the avant-gardes in his The Age of the Avant-Garde (1973). He situates the avant-garde from the 1850s (Courbet) until the 1950s (abstract expressionism) and defines it as art that meets with resistance from society at large.
- "It's a central thesis of my work that in the 20th century (which I call the Age of Hollywood) pagan popular culture overtook and vanquished the high arts. Thanks to advances in technology, pop became a universal language, as catholic in its reach as the medieval church. Once pop art embraced commercial iconography, the avant-garde was dead."
Several contemporary critics have argued that the avant-garde is not dead. They cite punk rock as a new resurgence of avant-garde sensibilities and offer that there will always be transgressive artists ahead of their time, destined to be discovered and re-evaluated after their death.