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From Francis Bacon To Oz Magazine
David Hopkins

This article discusses how we might formulate an account of William Blake’s avant-garde reception. Having dealt with Peter Bürger’s theorisation of the notion of ‘avant-garde’, it concentrates on a series of portraits, made from Blake’s life mask, by Francis Bacon in 1955. This ‘high art’ response to the Romantic poet is then contrasted with a series of ‘subcultural’ responses made from within the British counterculture of the 1960s. Case studies are presented from the alternative magazine production of the period (notably an illustration from Oz magazine in which Blake’s imagery is conflated with that of Max Ernst). An article by David Widgery in Oz on Adrian Mitchell’s play Tyger (1971) is also discussed to show how the scholarly literature on Blake of the period (mainly David Erdman) was called on by the counterculture to comment on political issues (e.g. Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech). The final section of the article shows how the ‘avant-gardism’ of Oz’s utilisation of Blake might be counterposed to the more activist left-wing approach to the poet in small magazines such as King Mob with their links to French situationism. In terms of the classic avant-garde call for a reintegration of art and life-praxis, such gestures testify to a moment in the 1960s when Blake may be considered fully ‘avant-garde’.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Black Audio Film Collective and Latin America
Paul Elliott

During the 1980s, a number of British filmmaking collectives sought to combine avant-garde practices with the emerging field of postcolonial analysis. 1 Drawing influence from Latin America, Asia and Africa, the work of groups such as Ceddo, Sankofa and Retake in the 1970s represented a break from the more avant garde wing of British art cinema that was, by and large, dominated by structuralism, materialism and an onus on form. Their work was consciously political and deeply rooted within the communities the film-makers sprang from. The

in British art cinema
Experimental radio plays in the postwar period

Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde offers the first in-depth study of the radio play’s significance for the neo-avant-garde. In the postwar period, radio began to function as a site of artistic experimentation for the literary neo-avant-garde, especially in the form of the radio play. In the wake of the historical avant-garde, the neo-avant-garde had a strong interest in aural media, in the seemingly autonomous power of sound and voice. Therefore, it is not surprising that postwar avant-garde artists and literary writers in particular all across Europe, the US and the UK started to experiment with the radio play. Neo-avant-garde artists actively engaged with newly created studios and platforms in the postwar period. The contributions to this book examine how the radiophonic neo-avant-garde stages political questions and acknowledges its own ideological structure, while taking into account the public nature of radio. Alongside these cultural and political contexts, the book also reflects on intermedial and material issues to analyse how they have impacted artistic production in different parts of the world. Specific attention is paid to how artists explored the creative affordances of radio and the semiotics of auditory storytelling through electroacoustic manipulation, stereophonic positioning, montage and mixing, while also probing the ways in which they experimented in related genres and media such as music, sound poetry and theatre, questioning the boundaries between them. Because of its exclusive focus on the audiophonic realm, the book offers a valuable new perspective on the continuing debate surrounding the neo-avant-garde and its relationship with the historical avant-garde.

Christophe Wall-Romana

2 Avant-garde working-class melodramas In the previous chapter, we discovered the broad conceptual range of Epstein’s master word, photogénie. What it seeks to link are: the embodiment of the viewer and the actors; the cinema apparatus as positive and ethical mediation (compared to Walter Benjamin’s aura-damaging mediation); and a paradoxical aesthetics at once avant-garde and utterly modernist, and rearguard in insisting that sensorial experiencing in the cinema remains haunted by the ghost of Symbolism. This complexity explains how easy it has been for

in Jean Epstein
The journey of the ‘painterly real’, 1987–2004

The book addresses late-Soviet and post-Soviet art in Armenia in the context of turbulent social, political and cultural transformations in the late 1980s, throughout the 1990s and in early 2000s through the aesthetic figure of the ‘painterly real’ and its conceptual transformations. It explores the emergence of ‘contemporary art’ in Armenia from within and in opposition to the practices, aesthetics and institutions of Socialist Realism and National Modernism. The book presents the argument that avant-garde art best captures the historical and social contradictions of the period of the so-called ‘transition,’ especially if one considers ‘transition’ from the perspective of the former Soviet republics that have been consistently marginalized in Russian- and East European-dominated post-Socialist studies. Throughout the two decades that encompass the chronological scope of this work, contemporary art has encapsulated the difficult dilemmas of autonomy and social participation, innovation and tradition, progressive political ethos and national identification, the problematic of communication with the world outside of Armenia’s borders, dreams of subjective freedom and the imperative to find an identity in the new circumstances after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This historical study outlines the politics (liberal democracy), aesthetics (autonomous art secured by the gesture of the individual artist), and ethics (ideals of absolute freedom and radical individualism) of contemporary art in Armenia. Through the historical investigation, a theory of post-Soviet art historiography is developed, one that is based on a dialectic of rupture and continuity in relation to the Soviet past. As the first English-language study on contemporary art in Armenia, the book is of prime interest for artists, scholars, curators and critics interested in post-Soviet art and culture and in global art historiography.

The unsettled landscapes of Vancouver photo-conceptualism

Engendering an avant-garde: the unsettled landscapes of Vancouver photo-conceptualism is the first book to comprehensively examine the origins of Vancouver photo-conceptualism in its regional context between 1968 and 1990. Employing discourse analysis of texts written by and about artists, feminist critique, and settler colonial theory, the book discusses the historical transition from artists’ creation of ‘defeatured landscapes’ between 1968-1971 to their cinematographic photographs of the late 1970s, and the backlash against such work by other artists in the late 1980s. This book analyses Jeff Wall and Ian Wallace’s strategic framing of their photography as avant-garde, and considers their rejection of the history of regional landscape painting (such as Emily Carr’s work), the rejection of the counter-cultural experiments of their peers, and the integration of feminist challenges to figurative representation into their work. It is the first study to provide a structural accounting for why the group remains all-male. It accomplishes this by demonstrating that the importation of a European discourse of avant-garde activity, which assumed masculine social privilege and public activity, effectively excluded women artists from membership. In doing so, it intervenes in formalist art critics’ validation of the technical innovation of the Vancouver School as a universal phenomenon of global importance by revealing the social exclusions that empowered it in the past and continue to invest it with authority. This book will appeal to scholars and students interested in Canadian art history, photography, the history of the avant-garde, and the role visual culture plays in establishing and maintaining control over discursive and physical territories.

A historical perspective
Yan Geng

Realism, socialist realism and China’s avant-garde: a historical perspective Yan Geng In January 1993 a large exhibition entitled ‘China’s New Art, Post-1989’, consisting of 150 works from some of the most important contemporary artists in mainland China, opened as the showcase of the Hong Kong Arts Festival. One of the chief curators of the exhibition, Chang Tsong-zung (Johnson Chang), was based in Hong Kong and played a key role in establishing the international image of contemporary Chinese art.1 Chang created the exhibition with the aim of elucidating the

in Art, Global Maoism and the Chinese Cultural Revolution
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Pure cinema and Dada/Surrealist films
Maryann De Julio

Germaine Dulac's ‘Le Cinéma d’avant-garde’ (1932) is, as Richard Abel points out, ‘probably the earliest historical sketch of avant-garde French filmmaking’ (Abel 1984 : 279). In this essay, Dulac asserts that the cinema is both an art and an industry. To this end, Dulac distinguishes between ‘les films commerciaux’ (‘commercial films’), which are conceived to move the public through new cinematographic techniques, and to still make a profit, versus ‘les films mercantiles’ (‘mercenary films’), whose sole aim is to make money even if that

in Germaine Dulac
Television, formalism and the arts documentary in 1960s Britain
Jamie Sexton

3049 Experimental British Tele 16/5/07 08:02 Page 89 5 From art to avant-garde? Television, formalism and the arts documentary in 1960s Britain Jamie Sexton Arts programming has been a mainstay of British television since its early days, a tradition tied up with the public service ethic contractually enshrined in both public and commercial services. This chapter looks at two series that attempted to experiment with the presentation of art to British television viewers: New Tempo (ABC, 1967) and Who Is? (BBC2, 1968). These programmes played with, and

in Experimental British television
Maria Elena Versari

5 Futurist canons and the development of avant-garde historiography (Futurism– Expressionism–Dadaism) Maria Elena Versari Maria Elena Versari Futurist canons In 1921, Marc Bloch published an essay entitled ‘Reflections of an historian on the fake news under the war’, in which he justified his interest in that somewhat unusual subject: ‘Our ancestors did not quibble over these sorts of things, they rejected error, when they recognised it as such, and they were not concerned about its repercussions. That’s why the information they left us doesn’t allow us to

in Back to the Futurists