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Radical Conceptual Art revisited: A social and political perspective from the East and the South

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Miklós Erdély

The most significant personality of the avant-garde that underwent a revival in Hungary in the second half of the 1960’s. Sculptor, film ...

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Title: What is avantgardism?




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Miklós Erdély

What is avantgardism?

Can we consider it an avant-garde act that Miklós Erdély, György Jovánovics and János Major exhibited a coat?

The word avant-garde means advance group”.

Avant-garde artists cannot be content with the beaten track of established aesthetic rules, they rather aspire to reveal new aesthetic fields and create new aesthetic categories.

The art of the great avant-garde masters (e. g. Picasso, Mondrian, Le Corbusier) is appreciated all over the world: avantgardism has defeated prejudice and is gaining esteem among more and more people. In spite of this, avantgardism seems to be problematic nowdays. The amin source of the problem is the essence of avantgardism itself, its main requirement: the continuous aspiration to the new. An avant-garde artist restricts himself and the rest of avantgardists by the creation of each new work because no one can make a similar thing any more. Although it started as the art of freedom, destroying taboos, avantgardism sets more and more limits on itself with each new work of art.

I consider the coat that we exhibited together an attempt to set avantgardism free.

This work of art contains no novelty: it is not new to exhibit a piece of clothing, because trousers were exhibited by Claes Oldenburg in 1962. It is not new that three artists sign a single work of art. The Kukrinyikszi-group is well known. An object d’art accompanied by a text that interprets it is not new, either, as it is the main characteristic of conceptual art. (Joseph Kosuth)

But it is not a problem, either, as it is also not new that there is nothing new in it.

Translated by Adél Eisenstein and John

Published in: AL/5, Summer 1983. 6.