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After the Avant-Gardes 

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ISBN 978-0-8126-9892-3

$49.95
paper

viii + 244 pages

2016

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After the Avant-Gardes

Reflections on the Future of the Fine Arts

Edited by Elizabeth Millán

For about a century, the doctrine has prevailed that interesting new work in the arts must be revolutionary, upsetting, and best of all, unintelligible. At first it was assumed that what was pioneered by the advance guard of innovators today would become accessible to a much broader public tomorrow. But now we have drifted into a state of permanent alienation between true lovers of the arts and the baffling performances of so-called contemporary artists.

In After the Avant-Gardes, ten passionately involved observers, analysts, and critics of today’s art world expound their thoughts on the current sorry predicament of the arts and the most promising avenues of future development.

“Anyone interested in where the arts are going, and especially anyone puzzled or exasperated by some of the works we are now expected to accept as ‘art’, will find this book exceptionally thought-provoking.”

—Barry Smith, author of Austrian Philosophy, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Director of the National Center for Ontological Research in the University at Buffalo

 “Elizabeth Millán has assembled a wide-ranging collection of provocative essays about the aesthetic category of the avant-garde. The concept of the avant-garde suggests that everyone is either ahead of everyone else or else falling behind—a case of ‘jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today’. Instead of trying to outpace the present, Millán and her contributors linger with questions about where art is today and where it might go in the future.”

—Andrew Cutrofello, author of All for Nothing: Hamlet’s Negativity

 “This brilliant collection of essays is an amazing philosophical tour-de-force on the death, hopeful resurrection, and future of contemporary art. The writing in these pieces is beautiful, often bitter, and morally earnest. The authors are mostly despairing at the fallen status of art in our culture today, owing in part to an often nihilistic obsession with the avant-garde. There is something restorative in art, something that awakens unlimited possibilities in the human imagination and refines our sensibilities, which in turn inform a heightened manner of embodied living discredited by the avant-garde. Writing within a ‘constellation of hope’, the authors all provide illuminating insights and antidotes to the hopelessness that pervades contemporary art.”

—Jason D. Hill, author of Civil Disobedience and the Politics of Identity

Elizabeth Millán is Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago, author of Friedrich Schlegel and the Emergence of Romantic Philosophy (2007), and co-editor (with Bärbel Frischmann) of Das Neue Licht der Frühromantik: Innovation und Aktualität frühromantischer Philosophie (2008).

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