Neo avant-garde  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Neo avant-garde is an art historical term coined in the 1960s, in a period that corresponds with Late Modernism or early postmodern art. The term refers to a supposed second wave of avant-garde art such as Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Nouveau Réalisme, Neo-Dada and Fluxus. The first wave was Futurism, Dada and Surrealism.

The German literary critic Peter Bürger's Theory of the Avant-Garde (1974) looks at the establishment's embrace of socially critical works of art and suggests that in complicity with capitalism, "art as an institution neutralizes the political content of the individual work." While the title of Bürger's essay is an explicit reference to Poggioli's, he makes several useful additions to the latter's groundbreaking study, such as the distinction between "historical" (Futurism, Dada, Surrealism) and "neo" avant-garde (Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Nouveau Réalisme, Fluxus, etc.).

Peter Bürger's essay also greatly influenced the work of contemporary American art historians such as Benjamin H. D. Buchloh: while older critics like Bürger (or the Italian architectural historian Manfredo Tafuri) view the postwar neo avant-garde as the empty recycling of forms and strategies from the first two decades of the twentieth century, others like Clement Greenberg view it, more positively, as a new articulation of the specific conditions of cultural production in the postwar period. Buchloh, in the collection of essays "Neo-avantgarde and Culture Industry" critically argues for a dialectical approach to these positions.

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