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Is the avant garde passť?

Has avant garde art gone mainstream? If so, has it lost its edge? What does it mean for art to be political at a time when politics itself is so uninspiring?


Ralph Ginzburg launched the magazine Avant Garde in January 1968, with a view to combining art and politics. As the year unfolded, radical politics and avant garde art seemed to go hand-in-hand. In 2008 London’s South Bank Centre hosted an exhibition of the street posters of Paris from May 68. This innovative, political work took its inspiration from the avant garde traditions of the 19th century Parisian Salon des Refusés, and later experimental art that pushed the boundaries of ‘bourgeois’ form.

40 years on, many artists are seen as cutting-edge and politically radical, but the context has changed. Modernism has been usurped by postmodernism, and the idea of subverting form is so commonplace that many art-lovers long for assured technique. Meanwhile, culture mandarins practically demand the arts demonstrate their social relevance, and ‘bourgeois’ institutions eschew ‘art for art’s sake’, preferring the politically-oriented work of Mark Wallinger or Banksy.

Has avant garde art gone mainstream? If so, has it lost its edge? What does it mean for art to be political at a time when politics itself is so uninspiring? Some critics condemn what they see as the vacuousness of ever more outlandish attempts to create art sensation for the sake of it. Are they simply retreating to nostalgia for past excellence, or should we demand art that is genuinely fresh and innovative, whether it’s political or not? What should avant garde art look like in 2008?


Speaker(s):

Mr JJ Charlesworth | talks | www
Michael Estorick | talks
Professor Joe Kerr | talks
Simon Poulter | talks
Stuart Semple | talks
Karl Sharro | talks
Joseph Young | talks

 

Date and Time:

14 October 2008 at 7:00 pm

Duration:

2 hours

 

Venue:

Vibe Live
91-95 Brick Lane
London
E1 6QL
020 7269 9220
http://www.battleofideas.org.uk
Show map

Organised by:

Institute of Ideas
See other talks organised by Institute of Ideas...

 

Tickets:

£7.50 (£5)

Available from:

www.battleofideas.org.uk

Additional Information:

Phone: 020 7269 9220

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