Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The vanguard, a small troop of highly skilled soldiers, explores the terrain ahead of a large advancing army and plots the course for the army to follow. This concept is applied to the work done by small bands of intellectuals and artists as they open pathways through new cultural or political terrain, for the mass of society to follow. Because of the implication of specialization of the avant-garde in military terms, some people feel the expression implies elitism when used to describe cultural movements.
The term also refers to the promotion of social progress and reform, the aims of its various movements presented in public declarations called manifestos. Over time, avant-garde became associated with movements concerned with "art for art's sake", focusing primarily on expanding the frontiers of aesthetic experience, rather than with wider social reform.
The origin of the artistic avant-garde can be fixed at May 17, 1863, the opening of the Salon des RefusÚs in Paris, organised by painters whose work was rejected for the annual Paris Salon of officially sanctioned academic art. Salons des RefusÚs was held in 1874, 1875, and 1886.
Surrealism claims to have transcended the avant-garde.
Examples of avant-garde
- experimental film
- experimental music
- experimental theatre
- mail art
- social realism
- pop art
- abstract expressionism
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