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Avant-garde

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Avant-garde
Avant-garde is how modern art critics refer the general trend of new artistic directions that arose in world art at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A very thin line separates it from the concept of “modernism”. Read more
is how modern art critics refer the general trend of new artistic directions that arose in world art at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A very thin line separates it from the concept of "modernism".
The term came from the French word avant-garde, which means "advanced guard". For the first time this term as applied to the art movements was used for a long time — it was introduced into the concept list by the French journalist, critic and first historian of impressionism Théodore Duret in 1885.
However, at that time the term did not gain much popularity, and, in fact, in the midst of the development of various artistic trends, which are now united by the concept of "avant-garde", this word was not used.

The avant-garde concept returned to the terminology of art connoisseurs in the 1950s thanks to a Frenchman, constructive artist Michel Seuphor, historian of abstractionism, who used the term to designate the disestablishing Russian art of the early 20th century.
Historians note that the definition of "avant-garde" was then more related to political ideas advocated by the utopians and anarchists. The radicalism of these political movements was clearly expressed in the artistic environment. In his article on the opening of the exhibition of the Union of Russian Artists in 1910, Alexander Benois highlighted several artists who worked in Moscow, headed by Mikhail Larionov, calling their art avant-garde. Benois believed that this group of artists was too provocative in denying the generally accepted classical painting dogmas, while he considered himself, as well as his associates from the Mir Iskusstva centrists. However, the term "avant-garde" was not yet firmly established: creative associations of artists did not use it in any way, therefore critics did not use it either.
Further on different interpretations appeared. The "avant-garde" in common practice began to be identified with modernism, and the "Russian avant-garde" became a separate trend. Be that as it may, in fact, the term "avant-garde" at the time of its "second birth" and active use was already a retrospective concept adopted after the latest trends in art, which appeared in the early 20th century, survived their peak popularity and mostly became a historical fact.
Edward Munch. The sun
The sun
1916, 455×780 cm

The avant-garde movements

The avant-garde movements include:

Expressionism
You can hardly tell the exact day or year of the birth of Expressionism, which is usual for all powerful art movements. You cannot draw a border on the map and indicate the territory where Expressionism took its start and got stronger. Overall, it’s all roughly known. Except for one rock-solid spatiotemporal benchmark: Northern Europe on the eve of the First World War. Expressionism is an avant-garde art movement, a new tragic worldview, and a whole set of significant motifs, symbols, and myths. Moreover, it is a revolutionary reaction both to the shabby, lifeless traditional academic art, and the light, idyllic southern impressionistic “appearance” of the world. Read more

Arisen as a response to the worries of the revolutions and horrors of World War I, expressionism
You can hardly tell the exact day or year of the birth of Expressionism, which is usual for all powerful art movements. You cannot draw a border on the map and indicate the territory where Expressionism took its start and got stronger. Overall, it’s all roughly known. Except for one rock-solid spatiotemporal benchmark: Northern Europe on the eve of the First World War. Expressionism is an avant-garde art movement, a new tragic worldview, and a whole set of significant motifs, symbols, and myths. Moreover, it is a revolutionary reaction both to the shabby, lifeless traditional academic art, and the light, idyllic southern impressionistic “appearance” of the world. Read more
refracted objective reality through the frustration and fears of people in time of trouble. The expressionist artists concentrated on the emotional subjective component of the work, which the painter sought to convey to his/her viewer.
Edward Munch. Scream
Scream
1910, 83.5×60 cm

Cubism

Another trend that denied the classical principles of painting was cubism. Artists of this direction used simple geometric shapes to depict three-dimensional objects, creating a two-dimensional object on canvas. The founder of cubism was Paul Cézanne, Georges Braque worked in this style, but it was Pablo Picasso who brought the greatest fame to this art movement; the collector Sergei Schukin brought his works to Russia. Kazimir Malevich and Vladimir Tatlin transformed cubism, combined it with futurism, and thus cubofuturism was born. Malevich wrote: "If you want to study art, then study
A study is an exercise painting that helps the painter better understand the object he or she paints. It is simple and clear, like sample letters in a school student’s copybook. Rough and ready, not detailed, with every stroke being to the point, a study is a proven method of touching the world and making a catalogue of it. However, in art history, the status of the study is vague and open to interpretation. Despite its auxiliary role, a study is sometimes viewed as something far more significant than the finished piece. Then, within an impressive frame, it is placed on a museum wall.
So, when does a study remain a mere drill, and when can we call it an artwork in its own right, full of life and having artistic value? Read more
cubism". But Natalya Goncharova claimed that there was nothing particularly new in cubism, holding up Scythian stone women and wooden painted toys as an example.

Futurism

This art movement arose in the 1910s. It relied on the future and on a constant movement. An integral components of futurism were not only the art objects, but also manifestations, programs, theories of views that were promoted by artists and poets. Art historians believe that futurism inherited the colour experiments of Fauvism and the artistic forms of Cubism. Speed, energy, a sense of movement, a portion of the absurd — all this can be found in the canvases of the futurists. Such avant-garde trends as constructivism and cubofuturism subsequently developed from futurism.

Surrealism

Surrealists were the fans of the subconscious creative energy, who drew their subjects from dreams and hypnotic states. The surrealists used absurdity and denial of logic as a way to soar above the generally accepted values of the bourgeois public. Combining dream and reality, surrealist artists showed the world chaotic images, separating the spirit from the material world. Salvador Dalí even said: "Surrealism is me".

Thus, the term "avant-garde" is a collective and historically determined definition of the latest art movements.

Avant-guard and modernism

The question of the semantic equality of the terms "avant-garde" and "modernism" is debatable, since modernism is defined as new forms of artistic thinking and relates to the same directions that are characteristic of the avant-garde — Expressionism
You can hardly tell the exact day or year of the birth of Expressionism, which is usual for all powerful art movements. You cannot draw a border on the map and indicate the territory where Expressionism took its start and got stronger. Overall, it’s all roughly known. Except for one rock-solid spatiotemporal benchmark: Northern Europe on the eve of the First World War. Expressionism is an avant-garde art movement, a new tragic worldview, and a whole set of significant motifs, symbols, and myths. Moreover, it is a revolutionary reaction both to the shabby, lifeless traditional academic art, and the light, idyllic southern impressionistic “appearance” of the world. Read more
, Fauvism
Fauvism is considered the first avant-garde art movement of the 20th century. It got its name in 1905, and it lived for only a couple of years, then each of the artists who called themselves the Fauves went deep into own creative search. The brightest representatives of the Fauvism are Henri MatisseAndré Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck. Read more
, Surrealism, Dada, and Cubism. At the same time, it can be considered that modernism is a more capacious concept, since it also denotes earlier art movements — impressionism
No doubt, you know about Impressionism a lot: you could mention the names of the famous artists and find with ease the exhibition at museums with gleaming water surface and the same image painted in different time of the day and of course you know the scandalous history of the First Impressionist Exhibition and could distinguish Monet and Manet. So, it is high time to switch to the next level: some additional details you would like to know about Impressionism. Read more
and post-impressionism
"Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" Gauguin asked when naming his famous painting. Well, the answers were given by the world renowned artists, who once have determined the style. Read more
, as well as later ones — the optical and kinetic direction in art. Both the avant-garde and modernism advocate the inner freedom of the artist who challenges the classical canons.
Famous avant-garde artists: Edward Munch, Karl Schmidt-Rotluf, Emil Nolde, Umberto Boccioni, David Burliuk, Kazimir Malevich, Natalya Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Olga Rozanova, Alexandra Exter, Olga Popova, Nadezhda Udaltsova, El Lissitzky, Paul Cézanne, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Óscar Domínguez.
Title illustration: El Lissitzky. Proun. 1923