Definition of avant-garde in English:



usually the avant-garde
  • 1New and experimental ideas and methods in art, music, or literature.

    ‘he has been called a promoter of the avant-garde’
    • ‘They are champions of the avant-garde, which explains how they come to be marooned for a fortnight in a chateau in the middle of a Belgian forest rehearsing a piece called Partitum Mutande.’
    • ‘Experimentation, the avant-garde, suddenly becomes something barbarous and ineffective.’
    • ‘It is set at the intersections of the literary avant-garde, visual and concrete poetry, text-based electronic installation art, net art and software art.’
    • ‘The post-modernist movement challenged the Modernist notion of the avant-garde.’
    • ‘This ethics of language, so central to Barthes's promotion of the avant-garde, may help to account for a puzzling feature of his criticism.’
    • ‘This is the American theatre and opera director - weaned on the avant-garde, marinated in the aesthetics of southeast Asia - who became famous working with Disney on The Lion King.’
    • ‘They were a remarkable couple, forward-thinking patrons of the arts who throughout their lives supported the avant-garde in art and architecture.’
    • ‘There's so much great music in the world, from jazz, to Mozart, to rock, to French Impressionism, to folk music, the avant-garde, etc.’
    • ‘The city has a reputation for being the one place where rock music and the avant-garde have merged with results that are spectacular rather than excruciating.’
    • ‘Or one can question whether the cool, objectivizing aesthetic of the avant-garde ever really was.’
    • ‘For all its pretensions towards reinvention, Glasgow remained deeply suspicious of the avant-garde.’
    • ‘Dance music, of course, was never a single tradition, and that was its strength - the ability to draw on anything from African classical music to European avant-garde.’
    • ‘This genre intersects the literary avant-garde, visual and concrete poetry, text-based installations, net art, software art, and netspeak.’
    • ‘Even during the brief periods of thaw there was little space for innovation, critique, or the avant-garde.’
    • ‘A passionate advocate for the avant-garde in both literature and film, B.S. Johnson gained notoriety for his forthright views on the future of the novel and for his idiosyncratic ways of putting them into practice.’
    • ‘With modernism and the avant-garde, postmodernists reject realism, mimesis, and linear forms of narrative.’
    • ‘I got into medieval music and the avant-garde, all the fringe stuff that people didn't like, the punk rock of classical music.’
    • ‘Ives may have sympathised with progressive ideas and there are occasional glimpses of the avant-garde in the Art Palace selection.’
    • ‘The re-emergence of the avant-garde, modernism's trope par excellence, marks the return of the repressed in contemporary art.’
    • ‘He is maybe a bit like the great Serge Gainsbourg, who was also mixing pop music and the avant-garde.’
    1. 1.1 A group of artists, musicians, or writers working with new and experimental ideas and methods.
      ‘works by artists of the Russian avant-garde’
      • ‘These were based on texts by Prevert, Schwitters and Artaud, all artists of the modernist avant-garde.’
      • ‘Konig spent much of the 1970s in North America, where he established close ties with the leading artists of the avant-garde.’
      • ‘It seemed an example of the avant-garde having learned the language of children, to use Forché's formulation, in order to briefly lure them away from the society of the spectacle.’
      • ‘Early non-medical LSD use was limited to an intellectual avant-garde of writers, artists and musicians.’
      • ‘The Soviet avant-garde experimented with photography, photomontage, film, architecture and design for everyday living.’
      • ‘Some products of the avant-garde keep their edge longer than others-Joyce, Picasso and Schonberg still have the capacity to shock after nearly a century.’
      • ‘Khardzhiev's seemingly unassailable authority stemmed, of course, from his personal knowledge of many of the key figures of the avant-garde.’
      • ‘To innovate, the avant-garde needed to push film out of the black box, the darkened theatre, into the white cube of the gallery space.’
      • ‘And from the outset, this idea will contradict manifestos of the avant-garde - attaching itself to a more unobtrusive psychological tradition.’
      • ‘Just because the avant-garde were exploring new forms of musical experience doesn't mean that the experiences themselves are only meaningful in terms of the specific techniques for bringing them about.’
      • ‘She also investigates the avant-garde's motives in embracing black culture and proffers reasons and meanings for its interest.’
      • ‘Chen, 30, set aside his strict classical training, based on techniques developed as far back as the Tang dynasty, and moved into the realm of the avant-garde.’
      • ‘Composers, editors, directors and writers, anyone who was respected in the avant-garde of the Hurrion arts seemed in attendance.’
      • ‘It could be 1961, or 1949, with the avant-garde wearing berets and reciting poetry.’
      • ‘In the early Sixties she was still in the avant-garde, having abandoned St. Tropez to follow a guru to California, where she changed her name to Jane.’
      • ‘The most prestigious traditional Bohemian glass decoration, Tiefschnit, or deep, intaglio carving, was also adopted by the artists of the avant-garde.’
      • ‘Museum attention to his photography-Stieglitz as artist rather than leader of the avant-garde - has been extensive and judicious.’
      • ‘But then, my project has always been to bring the smells of the barbeque to the world of the avant-garde.’
      • ‘For over forty years, Weir has toured the world performing the entire pantheon of organ works, from the most expressive Mozart piece to the most challenging works of the avant-garde.’
      • ‘The earlier film culture manifested a proximity to the avant-garde, the rebel.’
      • ‘Modotti, a famous beauty of Italian birth, was the colleague and muse of photographer Edward Weston, who took her to Mexico to mix with the avant-garde.’


  • Favouring or introducing new and experimental ideas and methods.

    ‘a controversial avant-garde composer’
    • ‘And yet, this manages not to come across as math, and only barely sounds like an avant-garde experiment.’
    • ‘The film is about an avant-garde composer in the last century, and as you might expect, it's filled with his music.’
    • ‘April will see another French classic, Jacques Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann, in a more avant-garde production with eccentric sets and costumes supplied by Portland Opera.’
    • ‘There is a lot of Chinese contemporary art and avant-garde art but I think China is much more daring.’
    • ‘The rather scattered approach turns what could have been a compelling, avant-garde look into the ideas of a great thinker into a rather uneven experience.’
    • ‘Unlike most avant-garde composers from the fifties, Boulez has always found the physical act of making music a pleasurable exercise for both the ears and the spirit.’
    • ‘Christopher's ballets demonstrate a strong musicality and romanticism, which the choreographer says sets him apart from his more avant-garde contemporaries.’
    • ‘The theater has a reputation for producing experimental, avant-garde plays, many of them controversial.’
    • ‘This is coupled with an absence of widely available introductions and open doors for those who are unfamiliar with contemporary or avant-garde poetry.’
    • ‘After the second world war, the gap between audiences and avant-garde composers opened into an unbridgeable abyss.’
    • ‘I will inaugurate this study with a broad introduction to avant-garde film practice.’
    • ‘During the 1960s he experimented with various avant-garde ideas and techniques formerly forbidden in the USSR.’
    • ‘These musicians play to an avant-garde, hardcore underground sound.’
    • ‘At that time at Olympic, I was doing avant-garde jazz, experimenting, trying all of these different things.’
    • ‘The exhibition was extraordinary for its size and status as a landmark in the context of introducing European avant-garde art to the United States.’
    • ‘In the war the surrealists had been exiled to Manhattan and brought with them an idea of avant-garde cinema.’
    • ‘Finally, there is the dialogue of vision, an exchange between ‘authentic’ values and avant-garde ideas.’
    • ‘He is a London-based independent curator of experimental, avant-garde, and artists' film and video.’
    • ‘The late avant-garde composer John Cage is in the news again.’
    • ‘Artists here have been diligently working to improve their skills, as their counterparts in Beijing continue to put forward new concepts and avant-garde ideas.’
    innovative, advanced, innovatory, original, experimental, inventive, ahead of the times, new, forward-looking, futuristic, modern, ultra-modern, state-of-the-art, trendsetting, pioneering, progressive, groundbreaking, trailblazing, revolutionary
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Late Middle English (denoting the vanguard of an army): from French, literally ‘vanguard’. Current senses date from the early 20th century.