Artibus et Historiae no. 10 (V)

1984, ISSN 0391-9064

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What we call avant-garde can be looked at from two different angles. As institutions, the avantgardes are characterized by their bellicose combativeness, their elitarian intransigence, their disdain of the contemporary state of things, their recovery of remote traditions, their obsession with posters, dates, all converging on the same utopian goal - to abolish the abyss separating art from life. Looked on as a way of thinking, they lean toward a scientific-like and revolutionary-like standpoint, foreseeing the eventual self-extermination of art - positive for some (Strzemiński), or negative for others (Witkiewicz). What pulls these two opposing utopias together is the persuasion that historical development is predetermined, linear and irreversible. Nowadays their role is restricted to a defensive one against the wave of pseudo-avant-garde late-comers.

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