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An Essay on Trends and Prospects of the 21st Century Western Aesthetics 2 - Reconsideration of the Avant-Garde Theory: Buchloh and Foster’s Criticism on Bürger and Bürger’s Response

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ABSTRACT

The aim of this essay is to deal with the putative twilight of the avant-garde movement and its prospects for the contemporary 21st century. This essay first analyzes the core of Burger’s avant-garde theory and appraises Buchloh and Foster’s criticism thereof. Then, the issues of the avant-garde and the post-avant-garde will be scrutinized from a pro-Burger perspective with a focus on Burger’s rebuttals. Burger regards the historic avant-garde as a failed project, and believes that the neo-avant-garde is a mere replica of the previously failed historic avant-garde. According to him, the neo-avant-garde has lacked the capacity to resist and to criticize ever since its beginning. However, Buchlohand Foster criticize Burger because they recognise the neo-avant-garde as taking a progressive stance. Regarding this, Burger criticizes Buchloh by stating that he is too pre-occupied with the analysis of superficial content, and therefore does not grasp the significance of the original avant-garde project in terms of a generalized theory. In addition, Burger does not deny Foster’s view that the avant-garde intention is truly being practiced by the second neo-avant-garde artists. However, he points out that there is always the risk of over- and under-appreciation when we appraise the works of individual artists. Therefore he insists that establishing the general theory is of foremost importance if we can acknowledge that an artist’s artwork has co-existing positive and negative features at the same time. Based on this, he argues that the avant-garde can exist only if the general population forms the belief that social change is needed to resolve conflicts within a society.

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* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.