Radical Art and the Formation of the Avant-Garde

David Cottington


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Yale University Press
8 March 2022
ISBN: 9780300166736
384 pages

From the publisher

An authoritative re-definition of the social, cultural and visual history of the emergence of the "avant-garde" in Paris and London

Over the past fifty years, the term "avant-garde" has come to shape discussions of European culture and modernity, ubiquitously taken for granted but rarely defined. This ground-breaking book develops an original and searching methodology that fundamentally reconfigures the social, cultural, and visual context of the emergence of the artistic avant-garde in Paris and London before 1915, bringing the material history of its formation into clearer and more detailed focus than ever before.

Drawing on a wealth of disciplinary evidence, from socio-economics to histories of sexuality, bohemia, consumerism, politics, and popular culture, David Cottington explores the different models of cultural collectivity in, and presumed hierarchies between, these two focal cities, while identifying points of ideological influence and difference between them. He reveals the avant-garde to be at once complicit with, resistant to, and a product of the modernizing forces of professionalization, challenging the conventional wisdom on this moment of cultural formation and offering the means to reset the terms of avant-garde studies.