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date: 28 May 2024


The Companion to Theatre and Performance

A French military term, ‘advance guard’, became synonymous with progressivism in both art and politics in the later nineteenth century in Europe, and has since been applied to distinguish socially engaged art movements from other strands of modernism. ‘Avant-garde’ still denotes non-commercial and experimentally minded artists, though not necessarily overtly political ones. If the ‘historical’ avant-garde movements that arose in the inter-war era may be characterized as the ‘modernism of modernism’, that was mainly the result of their collision with volatile social contexts. The avant-garde manifesto, frequently incorporated in performance, often exalted the potential of industrialism at the expense of Western cultural traditions. Like the political tracts from which they borrowed their rhetoric, the avant-gardists' chief target was bourgeois society, particularly the conventions that privileged an art devoid of social consequences. In ... ...

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