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p. 1Introductionlocked

  • David Cottington


The Introduction looks at the background to the term ‘avant-garde’ and how it became connected with modernism. Originally a French military term, how did it to come to mean what it means today? The range of things that can be described as ‘avant-garde’ is striking, from haircuts to artists and life coaching to lamps. The term is a buzzword for ‘up-to-dateness’, newness, and contemporaneity. There is a contradiction here: if ‘avant-garde’ signals newness, then it has already become a cliché and it has already been ‘co-opted’ for an expectation of the qualities of un-expectedness that should come from being new. What are the origins of the term ‘avant-garde’?

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