Aesthetic Revolutions and Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde Movements

Aesthetic Revolutions and Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde Movements

Book Pages: 344 Illustrations: 70 illustrations Published: May 2015

Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory, Cultural Studies

This collection examines key aesthetic avant-garde art movements of the twentieth century and their relationships with revolutionary politics. The contributors distinguish aesthetic avant-gardes —whose artists aim to transform society and the ways of sensing the world through political means—from the artistic avant-gardes, which focus on transforming representation. Following the work of philosophers such as Friedrich Schiller and Jacques Rancière, the contributors argue that the aesthetic is inherently political and that aesthetic avant-garde art is essential for political revolution. In addition to analyzing Russian constructivsm, surrealism, and Situationist International, the contributors examine Italian futurism's model of integrating art with politics and life, the murals of revolutionary Mexico and Nicaragua, 1960s American art, and the Slovenian art collective NSK's construction of a fictional political state in the 1990s. Aesthetic Revolutions and Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde Movements traces the common foundations and goals shared by these disparate arts communities and shows how their art worked towards effecting political and social change.

Contributors. John E. Bowlt, Sascha Bru, David Craven, Aleš Erjavec, Tyrus Miller, Raymond Spiteri, Miško Šuvakovic


"By examining a range of aesthetic avant-garde developments, Erjavec and his contributing authors both inform and raise important questions pertaining to the role of aesthetic avant-garde projects." — Curtis L. Carter, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism

"At the crossroads of the aestheticization of politics and the politicization of art, a collision occurred that released the energy fueling the various avant-gardes of the 20th century. However unfulfilled their quest to revolutionize both art and life may now seem, the shock waves it set off still reverberate in our own time. Focusing on both familiar and unfamiliar avant-garde movements around the world, the provocative texts assembled by Aleš Erjavec in this scintillating collection demonstrate that they may still trigger new explosions in the years to come." — Martin Jay, coeditor of Empires of Vision: A Reader

"This is a quite remarkable collection that profiles the art/politics relationship as it was concretely negotiated at key moments throughout the twentieth century. No other study enables us to look so closely to see just what the art/politics relation amounted to—or, more exactly, what was the real relationship between artistic practice and revolutionary social transformation." — Terry Smith, author of Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Aleš Erjavec is Research Professor in the Institute of Philosophy of the Scientific Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. He is the author of Postmodernism, Postsocialism and Beyond, and the editor of Postmodernism and the Postsocialist Condition: Politicized Art under Late Socialism.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations vii

 Acknowledgments xv

Introduction. Aleš Erjavec 1

1. Politics as the Art of the Impossible: The Heteronomy of Italian Futurist Art-Action / Sascha Bru 19

2. 5 X 5 = 25? The Science of Constructivism / John E. Bowlt 42

3. Convulsive Beauty: Surrealism as Aesthetic Revolution / Raymond Spiteri 80

4. Aesthetic Avant-Gardes and Revolutionary Movements from Modern Latin America / David Craven 113

5. All along the Watchtower: Aesthetic Revolution in the United States during the 1960s / Tyrus Miller 145

6. From Unitary Urbanism to the Society of the Spectacle: The Situationist Aesthetic Revolution / Raymond Spiteri 178

7. NSK: Cricial Phenomenology of the State / Miško Šuvakovic 215

Conclusion. Avant-Gardes, Revolutions, and Aesthetics / Aleš Erjavec 255

Bibliography 287

Contributors 311

Index 313
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5872-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5861-9
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