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What is Avant Garde?

Updated on March 10, 2012

Bananas and the Avant Garde

Art in Motion

French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote that “books are like bananas; their flavour can be properly appreciated only if they are consumed on the spot”. What Sartre meant was that literature [and all art for that matter] must be in a constant state of change if it is not to stagnate. A writer who works according to the conventions of the past, instead of inventing new ones, is really producing old rotting bananas. This is the central argument of exponents of avant-garde attitudes or in more modern parlance, “out there” attitudes; the word avant-garde may itself be a rotting banana since it is a product of a past generation. If this attitude is correct then it's a logical conclusion that art and literature can only be appropriate to the period they emerged from. As French actor, theoretician and playwright Antonin Artaud declared, “the masterpieces of the past are good for the past, they are no good for us.”

It’s unlikely that the exponents of the avant-garde had no regard at all for the past and desired to set fire to museums and galleries. Artaud himself was inspired by the past and in particular, EIizabethan drama and Balinese dancing. Rather, the point Sartre and Artaud wanted to make in the strongest way possible, was that the present should not be cowed by the past and the past should not be overly revered at the expense of the achievements of the present. One pitfall with this view is that it may lead to the assumption that by default, the art of the past will always be inferior to the present and the future. Another is that enthusiasts of the present may unwittingly or unconsciously repeat the creative acts of the past and if the premise is correct, such works must necessarily lose their value simply because the concept has been approached before.


In 1919 the artist Duchamp painted a moustache on a copy of the Mona Lisa as an irreverent statement on traditionally revered art. Almost one hundred years later the same statement is repeated by several “rebel” artists wishing to disconcert the art establishment by imposing the modern on the admired old. Works such as Jake and Dino’s Chapman’s Great Deeds Against the Dead, exemplify this; a reproduction of one of Goya’s images of cruelty as a life size tableau featuring a dismembered mannequin impaled on a tree. The brothers went even further and after purchasing a pristine set of 80 Goya etchings printed from the artist's plates Disasters of War, systematically went through the entire collection and changed all the visible victims' heads to clowns' heads and puppies’ heads. Although he didn’t destroy any original works to do it, similarly Banksy’s Show me the Monet, depicts the litter of the urban modern on Monet’s landscape and more recently, in 2003 British artist Cornelia Parker wrapped Rodin's iconic sculpture, The Kiss in string and called it The Distance: A Kiss With Added String. Parker's intention was to make an ironic statement about the ‘preciousness’ of the Art Establishment and the public eulogizing of famous works.

The exhibit had barely begun when an unappreciative spectator took to the string with a pair of sharp scissors, apparently intending a statement of their own. The Tate gallery, oblivious to the irony involved, strongly condemned the 'scissor statement' saying it did not approve of “interference with work”. The rebellious spectator agreed. In all this though, is there anything which could be described as avant-garde? Aren’t these works all just re-workings of Duchamp’s by now historical moustache theme? Perhaps only the spectator with the scissors was truly “out there’, making a statement against a statement that wasn’t really a statement but rather a rapidly browning banana.

A Bourgois Phenomenon

It’s entirely possible the avant-garde could only flourish in a bourgeois capitalist state. The members of the avant-garde tend to come from an educated middle class, who feel apart or alienated from both class and society. The devolution or stultifying of the Russian avant-garde after the revolution shows that it needs a climate of free expression to thrive. An avant-garde which pushes the known boundaries of acceptable art, sometimes with revolutionary, cultural, or political implications could not be well tolerated by an oppressive State. However, somewhat ironically, where free-expression becomes so open as to create fewer avenues for rebellion, the avant-garde can be seen less as a purposeful movement and more a series of erratic individual self-expressions without real significance. In his essay, The Concept of the Avant-garde , written back in 1969, critic and French scholar John Weightman noted:

What I would call the avant-garde itch to jettison the past because it is the past and to hurry on the future may be so vague as to be quite formless. This, one might think, is carrying imprudence to the point of irrationality. It can be seen as a kind of intellectual catastrophism, an urge to throw the baby out with the birth water. But for a long time now, avant-garde attitudes have been marked by an extremism which is deliberately irrational. This is indicated, amongst other things by the contemporary American expression “way-out”, which seems to mean both belonging to the extreme of avant-garde and remote from the norms of reason.

Encounter Magazine, pp8-9


Back in the middle half of the nineteenth century, the Realist artist Gustave Courbet considered himself among the first of the avant-garde artists, but saw a significance and purpose to his innovative art. Rejecting the idealized landscapes and portraiture of his day, Courbet wanted to paint the real world and the real people which inhabited it. In doing so he believed he was pursuing some sort of truth. Similarly the Impressionists, in their radical use of light and rough brush strokes, imagined that breaking through the traditions of the past would somehow illuminate new truths. The proponents of these movements desired not only to challenge traditional art but also society as a whole and by doing so reveal new truths which would transform their worlds for the better or at least create a better understanding of them. In visual art a realm of challenge to the status quo opened up and Realism and Impressionism was followed by a multitude of movements through Post Impressionism, Futurism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Neo-Plasticism, Expressionism, Animalism, Pop art, Op art. Pop Tart Art, Neo-Pop, Post-Minimalism, Relational.….just to name a few.

Somewhere along this timeline of modernism and beyond the avant-garde developed a side shoot of extremism where the old idea of truths and of understanding ourselves and redefining society into something better than the status quo provided, gave way to a kind of acknowledgement of meaninglessness or insignificance as an art form. Some Avant-garde artists and intellectuals became enamoured with the idea that ‘facts’ and ’truth’s’ were illusions of the past, and should be despised. This new trend eventually culminated in the birth of Postmodernism and the firm [and contradictory] theory that all theories must be rejected as well as a complete denial of the possibility of knowledge. This demarcation between the avant-garde of Courbet and the Impressionists and the cult of meaninglessness can perhaps best be seen in Duchamp’s landmark Bicycle Wheel in 1913. By taking an ordinary object and declaring it “art” Duchamp was proclaiming that the bicycle wheel was as significant as anything else, thereby reducing all declared artistic ‘truths’ to equal significance and thus in a sense…insignificance.

Many contemporary artists have reprised Duchamp’s old banana. Tracey Emin’s unmade bed, My Bed and even Damien Hirst's Child Divided (a cow in formaldehyde) are variations on the Bicycle Wheel . Such works are said to derive significance from the meaning the artist places upon the work, as Duchamp had similarly stated many decades earlier, but these later works cant really be considered avant-garde, as they often mistakenly are, since the theme has been explored before. Once it has been pushed open, a boundary cannot be broken through again, although what the breakthrough produces may be elaborated upon.

Writing as he was in 1969, Weightman railed against the extremist branch of the avant-garde, believing there was little significance to be had in imitating the seemingly meaningless nature of the universe, either in art or thought. While he acknowledged that there could be no clear basis for moral and aesthetic assumptions, Weightman could not believe they are arbitrary and if they are not arbitrary, then they must be regarded as mysteries…mysteries we can still try to understand. Now, almost forty years later, the “no such thing as knowledge” incarnation of the avant-garde may already be a rotting banana of the past.

Unlike the exact sciences, knowledge in art is relative and what is regarded as significant tends to be decided on whether or not enough people say it is at any given point of time. Today’s masterpiece may eventually be tossed aside as tomorrows hackneyed scribbles. The moral and aesthetic judgements of art are never firmly decided but rather form a constantly shifting mass of opinion. Fashion plays its part in generating fresh or stale banana and to a very large extent the exponential growth of post war-capitalism has lent itself to the commandeering of the avant-garde for commercial purposes. It’s hard to be radical in a world where radicalism is brightly packaged and sold in department stores. The avant-garde has become a kind of side dish for capitalism and what was once out there and shocking to public taste can now be found languishing in dentists waiting room, proving that today's avant-garde is tomorrow's chocolate box.

It is a feature of capitalism to discover a new trend and popularize and commercialize it to the point where it’s in danger of losing its original significance. The sexual revolution, feminism, and the gay movement have all, to some extent, become grist for the capitalist mill. The avant-garde too, has become a commercial enterprise. This can be observed in clothing, music, art, film and literature. To be avant-garde is too be cool and to be cool is to be marketable. Thus the avant-garde is sucked up into the machinations of consumerism and cleanly sold to the aspiring fashion conscious mainstream whose greatest dread is to be ‘out-of-date’. It’s a short journey from original idea to the production lines and art ceases to be avant-garde when it appears on a t-shirt worn by a thirteen year old boy on his way to soccer practice…by then it has become merely mainstream. If the avant-garde is still alive and well then it appears to have been inflicted with a shorter lifespan. In an era of rapid changes the future seems ever to hover threateningly over the creative triumphs of the present.

Tracey's Unmade Bed
Tracey's Unmade Bed

Not Dead Yet

Before I began this minor exploration into the avant-garde I'd formed a loose conclusion that if it was if not quite dead, it was a seriously wounded phenomena. That conclusion has now freed itself entirely from any grip I may have had on it. Though there is no single, clear definition of what the avant-garde should entail, what is clear is that it derives its impetus from the human capacity to imagine possibilities that haven’t been explored before.

Avant-garde, literally translating as advance guard , is an old military term dating back to Medieval France but it seems only to have been used in it's present metaphoric sense, applying to literature and the arts in the last hundred years or so. This is not to say that what it represents is so new. The concept of the avant-garde seems to have been born of a rejection of the old medieval view of a finished universe and grew instead from a modern scientific perspective which recognized the universe as a phenomena evolving in time; thus the avant-garde artist’s preoccupation with moving from the past and into the future. The old certainties of religion and fixed universal truths gave way to a new breadth of possibilities. The avant-garde then,  had its seeds in the late seventeenth, rather than the late nineteenth century, so before it became enmeshed with literature and fine art, it had already been affecting social and political thinking for two centuries. Of course the pushing of boundaries in thought had been occurring since ancient Greece and probably before so in that sense the avant-garde is as old as human nature, but before the scientific revolution and the enlightenment man had tended to deal in absolutes and certainties about the universe and the nature of existence.

It is precisely because the universe is constantly evolving in time and not a fixed and static state, that the avant-garde cannot die. That could only happen if we'd pushed through every boundary, explored every idea, imagined everything imaginable and understood every discovery. Not until we know everything can we cease to imagine what might be . If the mysteries of the universe seems infinite, then so too is our capacity for imagination and the avant-garde.


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    • profile image

      James McNulty 5 years ago

      "The Grande Finale of the Art of FIREWORKS"!! (An unrecognized Art Form of Celebration)

      These Collage works,(see below) represent truly inspired ,radical self expression, in creating "Firework Shows" in the realm of Fine Art!!.

      This presentation is simply too profound to be addressed as anything but the most "Sensational" exhibit,Historical expose', in recent Art History (160+ years).!!

      It all began with a "Zen enlightened experience", inspired by the "Ritual of Celebration", itself, when I was 4 years old , at that point in time,I began collecting & appropriating the entire graphic history of the packaging ,embodying these pyrotechnic materials.


      "The Graphic Art history of Celebration "

      Chinese Firecracker Art, - "FIREWORK ART DISPLAY" (ca.1850-present)

      This presentation has evolved into a unique & exclusive,world wide documentary on "The Art of Celebration"

      It's finely detailed graphic imagery + fauvist colors have been part & parcel to the rituals of celebrations,birthdays,National holidays weddings,New Years, Littering the grounds,around the globe,in every language & culture, for the last 160+ years.

      This extraordinarily unique medium, which encompasses the entire (graphic Art History of fireworks, 1850s-present),is unprecedented, as well as the interpretive breakthroughs in organizing

      1) advertising art :(i.e.) a collage technique of assigning elemental values to the various colored wrapping papers,(water=blue, land=green, & sky=varied colors), &

      juxtaposing them with labels of similar themes.

      2) Pop Art =" With a Bang"!

      Please regard : for imagery & more details short film (3-min. 50 sec} under "Professional Details" ,

      (IF.I), The printed imagery on "logo" firecrackers were exploding into "smithereens",(1930's), before the "POP ART"/"New Realist" movement was invented, in the late 50's!!

      I have a sensational performance, (Fireworks), presentation as well...

      Thank You, JAM

      P. S. "Destined to Skyrocket"!

    • profile image

      lalit roka, nepal 5 years ago

      thanks Bovary, this article benefited me......... i wish for ur upcoming articles..............

    • profile image

      James McNulty 6 years ago

      This is truely Avant Garde: The Art of Firecrackers/Fireworks(ca.1850-present)

      This (Fine Art) presentation has evolved into a unique & exclusive documentary on "The Art of Celebration"

      This graphic imagery has been part & parcel to the rituals of celebrations,birthdays,National holidays weddings,New Years, ,around the globe,for the last 160+ years.

      This medium, which encompasses the entire (graphic Art History),is unprecedented, as well as the interpretive breakthrough in organizing advertising art :(ie) a collage technique of assigning elemental values to the various wrapping papers,(water,land & sky), & juxtaposing them with labels of similar themes.

      Please regard : for imagery & more details short film (3min 50 sec} under "Professional Details"

      I'm looking for representation for this sensational works!

      Thank you, JM

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      That's a good point waxi..there are an awful lot of would-be writers.

    • profile image

      waxi 6 years ago

      Hi Jane So many thanks for the lovely reply to my post its very encouraging , flattering Please please write about Surrealism and Freud also fascinates me deeply

      I guess getting material published nowadays is hard cos millions and millions of writers have access to publishers which was not the case as in the past this makes it lot harder for publisher to decide who's work to be published Well thats one reason that comes to my mind


    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Hi waxi, some very interesting thoughts there about philosophers.Yes, they do seem to be a different breed...*special*. I don't think Shopenhaur had a sister, so he had to make do with poodles.

      I like the Wilde quote and I agree with him - too many artists seem to want to put themselves in the frame. I feel the same about writers. It's really hard these days to get anything published unless you are already a 'name', which doesn't seem right somehow.

      I'd love to write about surrealism one of these days; dreams and Mr. Freud and all that. Magrit is my favourite.

      Thanks for coming back for a visit.

    • profile image

      waxi 6 years ago

      Dear Jane

      At the outset I like to say I am very upset with HubPages for not notifying me my mails Its such a mess Its by mere chance I discovered that you have replied to my post else Iwould have never found out wonder what I should do?

      I say it again Your article is WONDERFUl it will be very helpful for beginners and I never read anything like it on Avande Garde because its simple and direct instead of a protracted sleep inducing confounding article

      To answer your Q re Sarte insecurity , whether its confined to his art -Yes I am sure and I articulated my understand [ I am not sure if its totally correct ] but I like to say some thing about Most men and Philosophers :they are insecure in any case [including me at times ]

      Re Philosophers , they seem to be a species of their own kind They cant get out of bed earlier , they rarely marry, They are more close to their sisters than other women[Some even slept with their sis yuck ] and some even loved to act submissive to women .

      Herem ,my fav Oscar wilde explains it best in his epigram

      "To conceal the artist and to reveal art is arts prime aim "

      Avante Garde , post modernism and especially Surrelism has always attracted me sine I was young man

      Yoko Ono is one of the great Avante Garde artists alive and many works of her late Husband Lennon were Driven by Surrealism

      I ll be very excited if you write on Surrealism

      keep it up you are simply the best


    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Smart Jane!

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      waxi, thanks for that great comment and I'm really flattered that you enjoyed it. While I'm by no means an expert on Sartre, I do think he had some interesting things to say.

      Lol,do you really think his views on art stem from insecurity? Perhaps you are onto something. It is true,ironically, that both Sartre and Artuad are never ignored and abandoned as rotting bananas themselves..

      I do love that Oscar Wilde quote...he is another one who has somehow managed to remain eternally avant garde.

      Thanks again for your interesting thoughts

    • profile image

      waxi 7 years ago

      Dear Bovary

      Congratulations on such a wonderful article on Avante Garde I have found reading your article very rewarding and its one of the best I have read on Avante Garde

      As an avid reader of Literature , philosophy and deep admirer of art I like to offer my comments.

      I never liked Sean Paul Sarte for reasons I never understood. He grosses me out .

      Apropos to what he wrote [quote ] " “books are like bananas; their flavour can be properly appreciated only if they are consumed on the spot” I have a hunch that he said out of his inner insecurity He was doubting his talentgs and feared that if his works are left languishing on book shelves too long they ll end up in the intestines of moths and pests. This inner spleen of bitterness manifested into his understanding art should remain in motion to prevent stagnation gave birth to a whole new thought called Avante Garde .

      Revisionism is a science in its self . Isnt it prone to revision itself ? Any one who will study the roots of Avande Garde will go back to Sarte and Artuad. These both artists had an uncanny way of sustaining themselves alive in memory of human mind but suggesting art lovers to leave the past behind and move on with new outputs Each time an art student will study Avant Garde , the student will have to come back to Sarte and Artuad et el Their art may or may not capture the art lovers attention but surely their name will live on

      May be the better way to articulate my point of view is to put in context of Oscar Wildes epigram who has it " The one thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about "


    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      RH, you're too nice to me. "Zero sloppy words', I doubt it but thanks. This was actually part of an old essay, that's why it's kind of formal. I grab whatever I can for these hubpages, it's all text...:)

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thank you for the link I was thinking I would have to look up the meaning myself until I saw this at the end. You are too smart - I love your hubs and admire how you put them all together with zero sloppy words. Also - I learn a lot and I can challenge myself to get better. Excellent!

      P.s. I bet I will like Courbet!

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      I'd better give you the right spelling should be plebeian.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      plebian? it's good to learn a new word everyday!

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Epi...what a great list. Blue Velvet and Clockwork Orange I like in particular. Haven't seen the original Haunting or Wings of Desire. Gee Carnival of Souls sounds pretty interesting...I looked it up on google.

      I'm still sweating over my list...what to include, what to leave out. Is that too film school? Is this too plebian? lol. I'll put it in later.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ...well then ... that is how I feel in the presence of the great dame Jane of Bovary - daggy - but also - debonair - and always - delighted!

      Okay this list changes every week but EPI'S current top ten favorite movies of all time!

      1. Blue Velvet

      2. A Clockwork Orange

      3. The Wild Bunch

      4. Distant Voices, Past Lives

      5. Wings of Desire

      6. The discreet charm of the Bourgeois (Luis Bunuel)

      7. A dirty shame (By John Waters)

      8. I love you Alice B. Toklas (starring Peter Sellers)

      9. The Haunting (the original in 1963 - black and white)

      10. Carnival of Souls (a cult classic)

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore daggy is uniquely Australian. Means dorky.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      daggy??? new word for me - that's what you get for hanging out with Arthur - lol lol lol

      yes I will look forward to your list -anything with Dame Jane in it?

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Thanks adorable Canadian. It's very nice of you to return here and make a comment. I'd be happy to give you my top-ten list...though don't be surprised if my choices are pretty daggy.

      How I'd love to be at that dinner party.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      I am back Dame Jane because this is one of my favorite hubs by you - I love the eye catching title and gives me an idea to write a variation on it ... anyway - not too many people combine or articulate this kind of wit and intelligence and information - well of course YOU AND YOU AND YOU AND YOU AND YOU and YOU obviously love the art and nuances of film - would you mind very much leaving me (and writing a hub) of your top ten favorite films - and I will write my selection for you!

      In the meantime I am having a nice cuppa tea here for you my dame along with my guests Noel Coward, Humphrey Bogart, Oscar Wilde, Fred Astaire and Katherine Hepburn - with a spot set aside for you!!!

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Thanks very much!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      If a hub can be art then this is it - and it dosen't get any better than this!

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Thankyou Putz...for reading and for the very flattering comment.

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 7 years ago

      A great hub, perfectly written. You have a wonderful talent.

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 8 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      Yes I have seen them and you are right. Disturbing but brilliant.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 8 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Hi Rod,

      Nice to see you. Yes it always seems a little parasitic to me, to create art by manipulating another's work, though I guess it's ok for a joke.

      Have you seen those Albert Tucker images of WW2? They're pretty disturbing. "Victory Girls" comes to mind.

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 8 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      Not bad at all. I agree with most of what you wrote. Certainly there needs to be change in art and a sense of progress thus avant garde. Personally I have never liked the idea of taking a masterpiece from the past and doing something to it like putting a mo on the Mona Lisa. I really doing understand how putting a male urinal on display can be considered art when the person responsible did not make the urinal but simply took it and positioned it. I can understand the shock value but that is about it. Van Gogh and Picasso are more my speed.

      I once saw an interesting collection of paintings painted by Australian surrealist artists during WW2 when the threat of invasion by the Japanese seemed a strong possibility. There were some horrific images. Very good art.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 8 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Well...I agree with you De Greek that there does seem to be a quality to art that transcends time and place, but as I said, what this quality is, is a mystery. I would add, in Artauds defence, that even a madman can produce art. Look at Van Gogh.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 8 years ago from UK

      With respect, when someone says that “the masterpieces of the past are good for the past, they are no good for us”, one can safely assume that the speaker is an artist or even worse, an art critic, meaning a wannabe artist. In such cases the element of self serving interest cannot be ignored. Pushing of the boundaries of art is all well and good if one has the talent to back it up, like Picasso. If, however, one is a schizophrenic drug user like Artaud, it becomes questionable. Art is art. Irrespective of time. Hence the term “timeless art”…

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 8 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Thanks Billy...haha..yes. I tried to find a more interesting banana photo but meh..the copyright thing.

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 8 years ago

      A great hub and I did enjoy studying the avant garde period back in university and you brought back great visuals - I love the great John Lennon quote... French for Bull Shit. As for bananas I would have to say velvet underground using at one of their covers is the masterpiece there :)

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 8 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Well if it isn't the neurotic existentialist...! Hi Arthur......when in doubt, throw in a banana, that's what I always say. I shall check out the Bloom book, it sounds interesting.

      And thanks heaps for the superlatives...they add lustre to my homepage.

    • Arthur Windermere profile image

      Arthur Windermere 8 years ago

      I think it's the banana motif that really holds this piece together. I included a banana reference in my latest hub in tribute. I guess it just a-peeled to me. hahaha ahh, sorry.

      I'm afraid I don't have anything very intelligent to add. My knowledge of avant-gardism comes from literature and cinema. I guess Tristram Shandy was really the first truly avant-garde novel. It's always seemed to be more concerned with form than content to me. It's pushing a very particular sort of boundaries and not the substantial ones.

      Re: Relationship of past artists to present artists. Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence is a great book on the subject. You don't have to read the whole book. Just check the wikipedia summary or something.

      Rated up, awesome, beautiful (for the banana).

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 8 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      David and Dixon, thanks for the terrific comments.

      Well John Lennon said "avant-garde is French for bulllshit"

      I do like Weightmans idea that the aesthetic basis for art is a mystery and not arbitrary...but there's no way to establish that.

    • Dixon Steele profile image

      Dixon Steele 8 years ago

      I've heard museums referred to places art goes to die. As you say context, context, context...

      Funny old thing about art, it exists at different moments for different people, in intention, execution, fruition, exhibition... posterity... rediscovery... The radical is what catches us off-gaurd, out-maneuveurs us. The past can sneak up on us, no less than the present.

      Great piece.

    • David Stone profile image

      David Stone 8 years ago from New York City

      Smart and well thought out. I write art reviews, and so, your thoughts aren't lost on me.

      One way of looking at it is that all art is originally part of its moment. When it lasts, it becomes part of the next moment and the next, etc. Context always changes, and we can neutralize art by freezing it in its own time.

      Somewhat unfairly, I have sometimes referred to museums as zoos for art.


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