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Back to Gallery Avant-Garde

Avant-Garde originates from the French word, "advance guard" and signified the experimental or innovative, referring to being on the verge of change, the cutting edge. Themes that are found in avant-garde either challenge established conventions such as social norm, or introduce radical innovations and reflections through art-based media. The language of avant-garde is peculiar and may be too abstract, making it difficult to be interpreted by its viewers. Although criticism has centered heavily around the genre, contemporary collections in the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York have allowed it to survive, if not thrive.

World renown artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Vincent van Gogh are a few 20th century artists who produced unconventional art that shaped European and global art history. Although traditional European roots don't seem to influence many students, the radical directions of creating something that has not been before are inspiring. The working definition of avant-garde is quite wide-spread because it focuses on modernism while being distinct from postmodernism.

Examples include Stargazer (2005) by Carmen Bright is a 3-dimensional mixed media artwork featured in Avant-Garde. Some avant-garde work is perceived as being abstract and complex because of the unexpected media choices as well as what may seem like irrelevant or disconnected representations.

Dead on Arrival (1998) by Erin Ashenhurst is a particular piece concerned with specific thematic concepts: Egon Schiele, the Viennese Succession Movement, multiple birth pregnancies and expressionism are heavy elements of the work aside from its solid acrylic paint medium.

Written by Flory Huang

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