“avant-gardes in crisis: art and politics in the long 1970s”

Sandro Ricaldone

AVANT-GARDES IN CRISIS. Art and Politics in the Long 1970s
edited by Jean-Thomas Tremblay and Andrew Strombeck
State University of New York Press, 2022

Avant-Gardes in Crisis claims that the avant-gardes of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries are in crisis, in that artmaking both responds to political, economic, and social crises and reveals a crisis of confidence regarding resistance’s very possibility. Specifically, this collection casts contemporary avant-gardes as a reaction to a crisis in the reproduction of life that accelerated in the 1970s—a crisis that encompasses living-wage rarity, deadly epidemics, and other aspects of an uneven management of vitality indexed by race, citizenship, gender, sexual orientation, class, and disability. The contributors collectively argue that a minoritarian concept of the avant-garde, one attuned to uneven patterns of resource depletion and infrastructural failure (broadly conceived), clarifies the interplay between art and politics as it has played out, for instance, in discussions of art’s autonomy or institutionality. Writ large, this book seeks to restore the historical and political context for the debates on the avant-garde that have raged since the 1970s.

Jean-Thomas Tremblay is Assistant Professor of English at New Mexico State University.
Andrew Strombeck is Professor of English at Wright State University.