This collection of critical essays is designed to lay the
foundations for a new theory of the European avant-garde. It starts
from the assumption that not one all-embracing intention of all
avant-garde movements - i.e. the intention of "reintegrating art
into the practice of life" (Peter Burger) - but the challenge of
new cultural technologies, in particular photography and cinema,
constitutes the main driving force of the formation and further
development of the avant-garde. This approach permits to establish
a theoretical framework that takes into account the diversity of
artistic aims and directions of the various art movements and
encourages a wide and open exploration of the multifaceted and
often contradictory nature of the great variety of avant-gardist
innovations. Following the theoretical foundation of the new
approach, individual contributions concentrate on a diverse range
of avant-gardist concepts, trends and manifestations from cubist
painting and the literary work of Apollinaire and Gertrude Stein to
the screeching voices of futurism, dadaist photomontage and film,
surrealist photographs and sculptures and neo-avant-gardist
theories as developed by the French group OuLiPo. The volume closes
with new insights gained from placing the avant-garde in the
contexts of literary institutions and psychoanalytical and
sociological concepts. The main body of the volume is based on
presentations and discussions of a three-day research seminar held
at Yale University, New Haven, in February 2000. The research group
formed on this occasion will continue with its efforts to elaborate
a new theory of the avant-garde in the coming years.
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