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Peter Burger

By medium: avant-garde - Modernism

Theory of the Avant-Garde (1974) - Peter Burger

Theory of the Avant-Garde (1974) - Peter Burger [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

This book argues a clear difference between two often confused terms: Modernism and the Avant-Garde. According to Peter Burger, Modernism dealt with formal evolution of style (in visual arts as well as in literature), while the Avant-Garde project involved radical change of the way of life. Consequently,the greatest Modernist movements of the 20th century, according to Burger, must be Cubism and Abstractionism, as they were mainly about visual distortion, and the relevant masters were Picasso and Kandinsky. On the other hand, the Avant-Garde produced its own most ambitious projects with the Russian Constructivism and Surrealism, and its geniuses must be Tatlin, Rodchenko, or Marcel Duchamp. All this is argued quite intellegently; the only reason for my 4 stars instead of 5 being that Burger brings on too much polemics with Marxist or semi-Marxist theorists (Lukacs, Adorno, etc.) and his own view is sometimes hard to disentangle from what he criticizes. --Alexei Kourbanovsky, amazon.com

In his Theory of the Avant-Garde (1974; English translation 1984), Burger claimed that while the Dada, Surrealist, and Constructivist avant-gardes of the early twentieth century were engaged in motivated critiques of the institution of art, the activities of the postwar avant-gardes were merely so many forms of repetition serving to institutionalize the legacy of avant-gardism itself. --http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_n3_v35/ai_18963474 [Oct 2005]

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